Scheherazade’s Secret

Dressing himself in clothes he only bought for days not spent by the murky shore (strictly holidays), the dockworker’s garments still bore fresh stitching as he left his home.

 

Sailing the shadows of the sea.

Past the bricks of salted granite.

Traveling through the arched tunnel until his eye caught the glimmer of the street.

 

In front of him was a land of chiseled sapphires and haughty rubies. Selling spaces lined with freckled faces, nearly all bearing skin used to the desert’s sand. Intricate rugs hung atop finely constructed booths. Scratching his stiff palms, the dockworker removed dried fish flakes from his fingernails.

 

Taking the first step upward, he was swarmed by the songs of the city. Vendors greeted their neighboring salesmen and women in Farsi. Sirens calling passerby’s to their cart, while bearded pan played foreign pipes. The sounds may have shocked him, but the sights left him breathless.

 

A rich yellow floor, lined with hand crafted clay homes.

The haze from the southern wind tickled his briny chin.

Visions of deep nebulas and secrets of the sphinx were within walking distance.

 

All that man had known could be found here. His life revolved around the fog over the low tide at dawn, and the blackening of fish over the evening fire.

 

Far away, near the entrance to the mosque, a sparrow-eyed wisp of the desert beckoned the foreign fisherman; the woman’s hand waved with the breeze. Her table was adorned with lilac sculptures, each bearing the scent of indigo berries. The man approached, clumsily trotting through the sand in his soaked boots.

 

The daughter of the dunes unveiled her face, revealing lips that tasted of oasis water. With a prolonged gaze, the man moved towards the table. Examining the vases with the same eyes that had witnessed countless horizons, he allowed the vibrant colors to blur his vision. Staring back at the woman with a half-completed conclusion, he pointed to the one that resembled the trees in her home country. The woman however caught his hand before he chose. Shoulder bones cracked as they locked eyes.

The grains of stardust caught within a mirage.

A silver obelisk lost to the pale skinned invaders.

Feathers of the black falcon buried in the sediments.

 

Through her, he witnessed the memories of her land. A strand of obsidian hair grazed her cheek as she watched the sun set over the drowsy sea. Her hand called his sight from her irises to the straw stand behind her.

 

Sitting alone on the flimsy corner was the jewel of the abyss. A crafted vase that had the wear of the ocean etched into its curve.

 

Had mermaids finally learned to give treasure, rather than take?

A slight rustle of the golden sand below.

The chattering of silver shards hung by a woven string.

Rays from the lonely sun refracting off of invisible prisms.

 

The man believed himself to be lost in a sandstorm as he tucked the leathery satchel upon his weathered belt. Ancient metal chimed as he undid the string, letting light shine into the bag. With the grace of a wish, she scooped the vase from its home and set it upon the table, inches away from his rattling coins. As he inspected the relic, the woman gently tossed the change in the basket underneath the skiff of her cart. Using his thick arms, the dockworker placed the treasure tightly next to his whiskered chest.

 

A quick chant of the soothsayer.

The banging of splintered wagon wheels upon cut stone.

 

Retreating back to the sanded garden, the pan peered over the sun-kissed cheeks and tapestries woven with blue ivy. His heart regained rhythm of the waves as he strolled through the crowded crosswalks.

 

Pots carried by the daughters of Cleopatra.

Steam dashing across tan brick fires.

 

With the thatching of his spinal sail, the man dipped backwards to gaze one final time upon the woman who’d sold him the vase. The beautiful scenes of the city were nothing compared to the twinkling stars he’d witnessed in her eyes; but the desert is a clever fox. A sash blew against the vacant stand, wind twirling through the silk curtains. Whatever illusion that the oracle cast on him had vanished.

 

Blinking twice to scatter the dust, the dockworker stared into the mist like an extended telescope wandering the vastness of the cosmos. Suddenly, he heard her voice.

 

Stray seashells melodically singing.

Clumped froth sporadically popping.

The whispers from the barnacles below his cottage.

 

Against his breast he bore the vase, and the lingering scent of the woman incense. He turned back to his path, and descended out of the market, back to the world he knew.


The gust ripped through the hatch of a cinderblock window. A match flickered, and the oiled wick was ignited, sending a flash across the fisherman’s cabin. Scratching his peeling scalp, the dockworker took hold of the lantern’s rusted iron handle. The flame licked the charred glass, while he moved from the makeshift bed to the window. Grunting along with the creaking of the sturdy panels below, the dockworker threw the hatch shut, trapping the wind outside However, the movement had expended more energy than wanted, leaving him alert, as opposed to half-asleep. Unable to hear the lull of the waves, he reclined his fatigued legs, attempting to find any degree of comfort along the pier. Along the jagged cliff sat the solitary lighthouse, blessing the land and sea with its sight. The man bit his thumb, enamel rubbing against rough skin as he braced for another restless night. Light from the fire crawled along the mildew walls while he patiently waited for the rising of the sun.

 

The vase, the fortune of the goddess, the drowned crown, the empty vessel.

 

What dreams would he use to fill the shell?

What petals would kiss the edge of the marbled bank?

 

A faint wind entered through the gap between the boards below, flapping through every loose surface, including the hairs of his beard. This foreign breeze twirled across his lips, granting him a taste of the water of the oasis.

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