This time I am resolved on changing dramatically. At the end of the day, garden-variety incidents such as these shift people’s perspectives on life, right? Without a doubt, it is now or never. I tell myself, “This time it is happening for real.” And here I am, already tampering with my perfectly functional routine. Instead of going from my workplace directly home, I am heading to the beach.
For years now I have dreamt of slotting this evening promenade into my daily schedule. See, it just so happens that I am a huge fan of the sea but not in the same way as everybody else. Nowadays it is hard to find individuals who don’t go around preening themselves on how profoundly they love the sea—my profession of love is the real deal. I delight in sitting at the shore, going for a swim . . . I have my heart set on one day owning a big apartment on an upper floor with panoramic views of the sea. My passion for it has made me develop a taste for almost every type of fish there is. However, if you were to ask me what exactly it is that enthralls me the most about the sea, I’d have to say it’s its vast size, its boundless magnitude. I remember someone once brought to my attention that the word “sea” in Arabic, if spelled backward, becomes the word “broad.” I have to say I found the linguistic curiosity quite amusing.
While I firmly stand by my statement about the sea being endearing to say the least, it is not like I am some kind of fool who doesn’t want to acknowledge that everything has its pros and cons. What bothers me most about the sea is that whenever it invites me to go for a walk by the shore, it sprays my whole face with small saline drops that stick to my specs, which are not easily wiped clean afterward unless one washes them thoroughly, with soap and all.
But, wait a sec, is that really the most annoying thing about the sea? Now I see something else, as clearly as I’ll ever be able to, since with the sea’s steely determination to soil my specs I have given up on any further attempts to keep them anything other than translucent. A boy and a girl are sitting suspiciously close to one another on one of those massive concrete blocks that look out over the sea. They were placed in their current locations back in the day for no other reason than to keep the sea’s brittle temperament in check. Apparently, it has now become a popular spot for lovebirds to go and hook up. Unbelievable! Where am I supposed to get the willpower to change from when everyone else acts as if they don’t give a crap about others? When are people going to realize how pea-brained their obnoxious behavior makes them appear? Everything suggests that blockheads are impervious to the evidence that is constantly coming to light concerning the drastic changes the world around them is attempting to embrace.
However, I have already committed myself to changing. And in the spirit of furthering a more comprehensive and welcoming society, the first thing I am going to do is to carry myself in a more approachable manner when other people are trying to change themselves. As a result, I slacken my pace and shoot the young couple a scathing look of reproach, signaling them to acquit themselves with a smidgen of decorum. But they pay no heed to me hovering in the background. If I may speak openly, for all intents and purposes, they have their hands full with each other’s presence. As much as I’d like to deny it, it’s obvious the boy is fixated on vexing me, for after all my sincere efforts to enlighten them as to what decency encompasses, he gets even closer to the girl and slips his arm around her waist.
I stop right behind them and expel an audible rasp. Yet they remain wrapped up in their own world. Rather than feeling the urge to abide by society’s code of conduct, he bends down to hug her! Next, having no qualms whatsoever, he actually embraces her, which instantly makes me see red. This just proves that humanity has stooped to a brand new low. However, from my vantage point, it feels as though they are having trouble carrying out the obscene squeeze he had been so bent on performing. As opposed to cuddling each other, it seems as if he is trying to help her get to her feet. She in turn clings to his chest as if her life depends on it, as if by loosening her hold on him, she risks falling off a cliff. Suddenly, all the muscles of their respective bodies, which had been clenched in anxiety up till that moment, burst into quivers. There they are in their upright positions, unable to suppress their stupid smiles. He then bends down once more with his right arm still tightly clenched around her waist and the fingers of his left hand stretched out, groping around for something he seems to have forgotten down there somewhere.
Without warning, a giant wave crashes against the rock where they are standing. The splash of the water on the rocks and their grating shrieks of laughter blend together beautifully. They laugh while he places a metal crutch under her right arm. They laugh while her soaking-wet skirt clings to her left leg, her only leg. Still laughing, they leave me there on my own to face the wave’s debris, which smashes into my specs, gradually blackening the lenses. In the end, I am no longer able to see them, nor the sea, nor anything else.
Ahmad Eddeeb is a writer from Alexandria. He studied Pharmacy, but did not pursue a career in the medical field. Nowadays, he works at The Library of Alexandria. He writes short stories and his anthology of short fiction, After-Bedtime Stories, was published in 2014.