Noha Al-Badry


"Let's move. Let's go somewhere. Let's go anywhere. Let's pack your car with cheese and crackers and wine and books and mix-tapes and vanish into rural towns where people will stare at us like we’re aliens or faery or trash or deities or stars. Let's throw a concert on the hood of your car. You'll play your guitar and I'll make a drum out of a pot and sing. It'll be magical! All the passersby will drop their change in your upturned, brown bowler hat. Some will drop big bills, huge bills, foreign currency. We'll wow them! Let's move to Russia and pretend we're prostitutes. Live off Caviar and Vodka. Or we can become drag queens and I'll buy you cutlets to stuff in your bright, bejeweled bras. It would be just grand! Let's go to Sweden! We'll have stunning photo-shoots in the snow. I'll be your model. We'll be discovered! We'll make it big! Or let's go to Istanbul and rediscover relics from the Ottoman empire. Oh we can go to Vienna and live in gardens! Let's fuck in Italy, make love in France and sleep in England. Let's form an underground community, have a cult following! Or perhaps we can start an indie film club and show masterpieces for Lars Von Tier, for Bergman, for Lynch, for Godard. We'll make a living selling cheap tickets and drinks and popcorn. We'll be these exotic, olive-skinned intellectuals and everyone will adore us! Everyone will want to be us! Let's go on a road-trip and write a book about it like Kerouac. Let's make a low-budget movie about our journey in a strange culture, like China – oh, let's go to China! – We'll be just like the young Japanese couple who go chasing rock 'n roll in America in Jarmusch's Mystery Train. We'll smoke weed in boulevards during the early hours of the morning and watch the sunrise together, you and I. Just us. Let's get new names. I want a floral one that explodes on the tip of the tongue like watermelon gum. Yours should be as potent as caffeine, tobacco and expensive cologne all mixed together. But not one of those kitsch, hackneyed, "tall, dark and handsome" type of names like Dmitri. Not one of those cliché, old-fashioned Hispanic names that reek of warm-blood and sex and sweat like Eduardo. Something Unique. Some name that descends on the pallet, taps it. A name that's a word that's a meaning that's androgynous and rare – like you. Oh, I don't know. We'll figure it out! Maybe we should get married! Yes, let's get married! We'll have a ceremony in the rain and customize raincoats into a wedding gown and a suit. We can rent a cheap, one-bedroom apartment and make a home out of thrifted objects, recycled ones. We'll take the flea-market by storm and make art out of junk, a gallery out of garbage – we'll have the perfect house! We'll be the perfect duet! Let's dye our hair, too. Mine pink and green, yours blue. We can dress in Victorian attire with a modern twist. Like gladiators and hippies in a blender. Beatnik meets Tudor. Let's start our own line of clothing and footwear. You know we can. We can be anything. Anything at all!"

She pauses to take a breath. Blinks inky lashes that flutter like a geisha's fan. She brushes her hair out of her face. Hair: a forest of various objects reflecting the night's odyssey which, somehow, led to his doorstep at 3 am. Hair: an uncertain shade of red, ambitiously stretching down her back, resembling a fishing net with glitter, paper, leaves, wood-chips, and a lonely cigarette butt caught in its web. How exactly she managed to collect all these items in her hair is an enigma.

She's gasping as if she just ran a marathon and a substantial veil of perspiration cascades – fluid – on her forehead. A drop of sweat lands on the left corner of her lips: a bright glob of smeared purple that suggests one-too-many kisses and one-too-many drinks. Another drop of sweat free-falls on her modest, grey, knee-length coat which hangs limply with the memory of the night's rain. She looks like a natural disaster, he notes, but she remains utterly oblivious.

The dilated orbs of her eyes are transfixed on him, are pinning him earnestly, are begging for something he can't translate. He could almost taste the fury, the magnitude, the absolute fervor of a deep desperation attacking him. Here, under the light of his front door bulb, in her expectant silence, she seems oddly benign for a moment. Something primal, almost bigger than him, wants to and is about to invite her in but it freezes, dissolves in his dehydrated mouth.

Noha Al-Badry is 20 years old and from Cairo, Egypt. She writes: "I like words, arranging, rearranging, playing with, flirting, fondling language. I am obsessed with medical terminology, food metaphors and psychological imbalances like a seesaw with identity-crisis and a malfunctioning medulla oblongata."

This is her first published story.
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