Monday, July 11, 2011

The Perfect Word

When I say the Perfect Word, it always comes naturally, with the delicate ease of a warm summer sunrise, and just as hot, which is a part of why it's so perfect. I try to say the Perfect Word as much as possible, because who doesn't like to share perfection? It feels good.

The Perfect Word starts in my head, and follows the inward breath down to my chest and through the heart to the centre of my soul, where it finds itself then rushes back up to be known to the world. The Perfect Word and I share such joy, and like I said it feels good to share. It rushes up the back of my throat and and moves like silk across my tongue. The Perfect Word tastes like everything perfect. Like chocolate without the calories but not the fake stuff. The Perfect Word is real.

My lips smile a perfect smile, a side effect of saying the Perfect Word, and the Perfect Word gets spoken. It sounds like an angels harp as it plucks the strings of my vocal chords and glides softly through the air, riding on the perfect love it generates, right to the ears of anyone lucky enough to hear it.

The Perfect arrives. Are you ready? Here it is.


The Bird

I remember Bahrain, a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia. I remember the heat coming off the ground and distorting the horizon. You could touch it, and smell it with every breath. I remember the drive home from school, looking out at the desert stretched outside the car, off the road, accented by palm trees and punctuated by the large red sun.

I remember the Compound, a block of suburbia in the middle of the desert surrounded by a concrete wall. It had two parks separated by a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a squash court. Our house was in the Compound’s corner. I remember playing in the park.

I remember playing alone. In my youthful naivety, I didn’t realize my friends weren’t really friends at all. Mohanned and Amir, brothers, were their names. And Bilal, my older brother, was their Yes-Man. He played it to the parents like he was the good son and I was the bad. Mohanned, Amir and Bilal would only ask me to play usually when they needed someone to kick around. I eventually ended up getting a clue. Between the endless insults, and that new children to the neighborhood would become more familiar faces than I ever was when it was just the four of us- it clicked. So I’d started playing alone, inwardly craving the acceptance that I never had.

I remember the Bird. Playing on a roundabout in one of the parks, I heard laughter approaching from the park on the other side of the pool. Amir was in front, followed closely by Mohanned, then Bilal. Amir spoke.

“Mohanned killed a bird.” He said. I didn’t reply, but was amazed. “You missed it. But we were all there. We saw it” Amir began. “He picked up a rock, and threw it at all these birds, and he killed one!” He was miming what had happened with exaggerated gestures. The three of them began to speak, all at once. Mohanned basked in adoration. I soaked it up like a sponge.

“You missed it.” They said, “Yeah, it was awesome. You weren’t there. You missed it. It was so cool.” They walked away showering Mohanned with praise leaving me alone again. My course became clear. I picked up the biggest stone I could find. A flock of birds, small and fragile, pecked quietly at the dirt, hopping around, a few meters away. I walked as close as I could without scaring them off, eyeballing which bird would be the easiest to hit.

I remember every insult ringing through my head with crystal clarity. I glared at the one Bird standing closest to me, just far enough away from the others. There was no park, no compound, and no heat. There was just the Bird. It was why nobody liked me. Why Bilal wouldn’t be my friend. It looked stupid just sitting there not knowing what it had done to me. Stupid fucking Bird. The pressure mounted, and Vesuvius erupted, exploding through my hand, and into the stone, which flew with terrible force and accuracy.

I remember beaming at my victory. The Bird slain and all troubles with it. I ran to catch up with the others. This time they had missed it. I would bask in triumph, accepted as one of them. I caught up with them around the corner.

“What do you want?” Mohanned asked.

“I killed a bird too!” I said.

“Oh yeah?” Amir said, “How?” He leaned his head back, a smirk on his face.

“The same way Mohanned did! Come see!” I begged them to follow and they did. I explained how I too, picked up a stone and aimed and threw it at the bird with the patience and skill of a hunter. They couldn’t believe I killed a bird, which made all the more sweet. I remember Mohanned looking worried. Finally, we were arrived and I declared “This is it! Right there! See? I told you so!”

The four of us stood, side by side, in silence and shock.  The Bird lay on its back, legs in the air, twisted and gnarled. Its wings were sprawled out, the right one stiff and bent. The Bird’s eyes were open, terrified black pearls that cried out in fear and pain. Its tiny chest heaved in and out, quick and short. The poor thing was still alive. There was no park. No Compound. No heat. There was just the Bird.

After an eternity of silence, the others spoke, taking advantage of the situation in the only way they knew how. Mohanned was the first to say anything, sounding relieved.

“Look what you did.” He knelt behind the bird, gently picking it up, cradling it in his hands. He peered down at the Bird. It looked up, terrified. I couldn’t think of anything to say. Bilal could.

“I’m telling.”

 “I didn’t mean-” I blurted.

Yes you did!” Amir cut me off.

“We should help it.” Mohanned said. They approached a faucet coming out of one of the park’s surrounding walls. Mohanned held the Bird under it. The first drop landed on the Bird’s face waking it up for a moment. As the second drop formed, the Bird opened its beak. The drop fell into the Bird’s mouth. It didn’t swallow. We all waited, but the Bird did nothing. Its chest was still. “It’s dead” Mohanned said. “He killed it.”

Amir dug a small hole in the dirt with his hands. Mohanned put the Bird in, and then buried it. I went home and life went on, with a burden. I’ll always remember the Bird, the reason why I play alone.