Written on the Palm of Her Hand

The Treasury, Petra, Jordan

She said, “Tell me, about your city, about the people living in it, about the beautiful girls I have to compete with for your affection. I want to know it all.”

We were sitting on a wooden bench in front of the Treasury, in Petra. She was constantly checking to make sure that her cochlear implant stayed hidden behind her hair. The sight of it certainly didn’t bother me. I thought she looked ravishing regardless. I didn’t want to risk ruining the moment by making her read my lips, especially considering that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything to say that would live up to her expectations. Thus, I drew her hand to my lips and kissed it in an attempt to answer all her questions in one shot.

She, however, insisted, “Tell me about how this place makes you feel, with the candle lights, the plants that can be seen growing between the stones and the roar of the wind. You can’t just expect me to want to throw myself into your arms without proving that I can trust you first.”

She then opened her leather purse and started looking for something inside of it.

“Here,” she said, handing an eyeliner over to me, “write something on the palm of my hand.”

I sketched a heart on it and the moon rose from behind the hills, shedding its light over us. She smiled, but then I saw it looked a lot cheesier than what I had anticipated and thought she deserved better. Hence, I started pouring out my feelings into the mold of silently spoken words. I felt special for having a deaf girlfriend. The way we communicated felt a lot more intimate and I liked it when she devoted her undivided attention to my lips, which my smoking habit had tinged with brown over time. I sometimes had to resort to gesturing to get her to understand what I meant, but that only made it all the more fun.

At some point, we started picturing the Treasury as our palace. We approached its doors and then climbed the stairs that lead to the upper floor. The moon shined brightly and I wished time would stand still. We entered a big room, found ourselves alone, cheerful and somewhat adventurous. One thing lead to another and soon afterwards, my tongue was scouting around her body for the origin of her quirkiness. When I started getting warmer, she recoiled and asked me to kiss her feet. I didn’t find it weird, because I recalled that Ghassan Kanafani used to kiss Ghadah Al-Samman’s feet all the time.

I thus laid her feet on my lap, took her shoes off and licked her toes, one after the next. Each had a unique flavor. I could see that she was enjoying it, because she had a hard time keeping her eyes open, and the night was too young for her to be sleepy. She looked like a Roman statue, lying face up on the floor of that white room. The skin on her ivory legs, which were crowned by a slim waist, felt smooth. I almost felt as if performing a solemn Sufic mating ritual.

She got me to snap out of my reveries when she stretched out the palm of her hand for the second time that night and said while tossing me a red lipstick.

“Tell me, what are your plans for tonight.”


Written by Hasan Falih.