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The Story of Attia and Lot

For forty years Lot lived at the edge of town near the railroad tracks and an old abandoned factory. He rarely ventured outside during the week. The bustling world terrified him. Dust swirling in the air. Sweaty bodies bumping up against each other in the crowded marketplace. Screaming children and stray dogs. The noise assaulted his raw nerves. He took refuge from the unbearable heaviness of it all in his cramped room. Leather-bound volumes covered the floor and reached the ceiling. During the week Lot buried his wrinkled head in the ancient texts that spoke to him of grave matters, matters that were beyond the understanding of the common people. “They know not what they do,” he often warne

Little Red Riding Hood

Ola was the pesky three-year-old daughter of a twenty-year-old elementary school teacher. Every night after she is put to bed, Ola annoyed her mother with peeving requests such as begging for a story. “Mom, tell me a story.” “Go to sleep. I’m tired and I don’t know any stories.” “But you told me a story yesterday.” The mother, already feeling irritated by her daughter’s call, said, “You already know that story. I already told it to you ten times.” “Tell it to me again, please. I want a story.” “I spent the entire day talking. I need to sleep. Stop this and go to bed.” Ola was ruthless. She kept on soliciting her mother for a story. “Tell me the Little Red Riding Hood that you told me yesterd

For Every Action

“I got this. How would she say no?” I thought to myself as I walked into Maria Reis’s office 30 minutes before class started, equipped with confidence, a black eye and a written outline of my speech. “Professor, I prepared the outline, but I won’t be able to make the speech today. I was jumped on campus last weekend. I’m still in physical pain. As a matter of fact, I’m on Vicodin, so can I do it next class?” The reality was I was no longer in pain. This was only my second semester in the U.S., and coming from Egypt, my default mode was if I could ever postpone an assignment, I should. Besides, the night before I had accepted an invitation to a party, and I hadn’t prepared much. This was the

First Love

The first time I learned that I was in love with Gamal was also the first time I learned everything I know about love. Gamal and I were in the second year of elementary school. I was five and he was a year older. Gamal was a black kid with beautiful blue eyes and cute generous pouty pink lips. We sat next to each other in class and played together in recess. We always shared our snacks and candy, and sometimes we walked each other back home after school. This affair lasted for a very short while before my teacher noticed. Ms. Halima was a popular, beautiful single teacher with short blond hair and revealing outfits. She was a dear friend and colleague of my mother’s. I am sure that when she

First and Last

It was a cold grey day. The people stood around the wooden box looking at each other, not knowing what to do. A few minutes ago the imam was giving a speech on how great it is to be in the janazah and how much reward you could get when attending the last prayer on someone—more rewards if you decide to go to the burial. The cheap wooden box was put on the sidewalk, the driver of the hearse next to it waiting for people to join him to the cemetery. It was getting late and soon it will be dark. I was there looking like everyone else, not understanding that each one of them will walk away, turning his back to this man in the box. I looked around again. “Who is going with him to the burial?” I as

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© 2020 by Alaa Al Aswany 

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