The Pillow

Rabat, the capital of Morocco

What does this mean on a deaf night? A short walk across an executed land under a vindictive sky made him want to propel the chest of drawers to its rightful place and lean back very badly. Afterwards, he was entrusted with the task of addressing anticipation, which is a path that is illuminated day and night in both the summer- and wintertime where one may meditate, feel, and polish up impressions any time.

Tell me, when people claw their way up, who gives a damn about anybody else? By the time he returned to his safe haven, twilight had set over all corners of the horizon. He pushed the rusty door aside while snarling the way animals do when cohabitating. He stepped inside the room, scuffing his feet as if someone were prodding him to move against his will. As he groped his way along the room toward his favorite spot, while trying to wipe the spider webs off his face, a stranger called to him hurriedly, “Switch off the light!”

He met the exhortation with stunned silence and stopped making any sound in order to determine the source of the voice that had so recklessly dared to hiss at him just then. He remembered he ought to be alone in the forsaken room, although chances were that a street person had sneaked inside at night. The vicinity was filled to the brim with them and the room—as he referred to it, better known as “the derelict basement” by the neighborhood residents—lacked painted walls, electricity, locks, and even a concrete landlord; it was a mined place. He pulled a lighter out of his jeans pocket and cast light over every corner as he came across it while wielding a knife in the other hand. He stole a cursory glance at the walls and the ground so that he’d be ready for the contingency of any sudden attacks.

“Thank God there is nobody here. The room is as vacant as always.” His mouth curved in a faint smile. “And to think that I was the one running from him a second ago!” Perhaps the stranger’s voice had crept up from the wild fear that had settled in him the moment he had stepped inside the place. He was not sure he had made the right decision by arriving there, but he didn’t regret it nor did he feel embarrassed or ashamed. He let his butt fall where he had been standing on a mattress, surrounded by some discarded blankets and cardboard boxes a refrigeration company seemed to have left behind.

He felt a dull ache shoot up his spine to the nape of his neck on impact.

“There used to be a pillow over here! Where’s it gone now? It was supposed to cushion my sturdy ass!” he yelled with a conceited tone, as if compelling compliance. He stretched out his arms and swung them across either side of the floor: it was nowhere to be found. He repeated the question out loud, “Where the heck are you?!” He squatted down, lay back on the wall, and fitted the quarter of a candle left over from the previous night into the chandelier. He managed to light it on the tenth attempt, but the dim light it shed erased all hope of ever finding the pillow. He was stricken with grief when he realized that he had to come to terms with the pillow’s disappearance. He had clung on to it every night, pouring out his daytime sorrows while sponging up the eternal warmth it offered.

“Oh, good Lord, it most definitely was a delirious fixation,” he uttered woefully.

It had been stolen. He stalled for a while before yielding to the undeniable truth; the span of time was only comparable to the pitch darkness of rainy and squeaking nights, the darkness that prolonged his life and made it miserable. All he hoped for? For the sun to linger in the West and arrive late to cast its rays over the Orient so that he would not have to see his pillow ruined underneath some wacko’s head. He wanted it all just to himself forever—all wrapped up as he was in his ego, his love, and his tenderness for it.

“Indubitably, a stranger has broken into the place and swiped all there was,” he sobbed, as if about to begin whimpering and moaning. He wanted to stop staring at the blistered wall in front of him. Therefore, he laid his diary down on his right thigh, grabbed a pen with his cold fingers, and reproduced the excerpt by heart, the one that read: “This is not a message, a complaint, a plea, or a rebuke. It is just an attempt to freeze the frame and establish yet another disappointing shred of reality. It is not meant as an eulogy, but rather as a hymn to the joy one takes in being alone and in longing for the past.”


Written by M’hamed Kanour.

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Choose your own adventure

Waking up

a) has to hurt.

b) has unhinged him.