The American sips coffee. “Of course I don’t support drone attacks. But I’ve got to think of myself. Can you imagine a Supreme Court under Romney? And it’s not just me, I’ve got a daughter as well“. Setting the cup down, she wipes foam from her lip and gathers up briefs. “We’ll just have to live with it“.
Masooma had been watching her father for several minutes. He was immersed in his newspaper, the tea left untouched. Deciding to make her move, the girl swiftly descends upon the cup, sips and retreats to the kitchen. Observing no reaction, she returns to take a second sip, then a third.
Would you pour me a cup of tea? Mine seems to have evaporated.
Another American nods with impatience. “Yes, I know the Dream Act is imperfect. Yes, it may well put more people into the military than into college. Fact is, it’s better than what we’d get with Romney. I can live with it“.
Masooma places a hand on her father’s shoulder, then rests her cheek upon it. He kisses the top of his daughter’s head, appreciative of the gesture. It had been a mannerism of her mother.
Witnesses said his wife had been unhurt in the explosion.
May I go with the other girls to collect firewood?
She had been among those who ran to help. Those who died in the second explosion.
I’ll be careful, I promise!
It was a common tactic among terrorists, a second bomb or rocket to kill those giving aid to the survivors of a previous explosion.
Father, may I?
Willing the tears back, he turns to Masooma. She is the image of her mother. Forcing a smile, he nods his head. “Don’t go too far“.
Returning to the newspaper, he finds himself unable to concentrate. Gradually his head lowers, and he is soon fast asleep. He begins to dream.
She sits at an outdoor cafe, sipping tea and reading a newspaper. He notes the dateline of the periodical. Today’s date and month, one year previous. Love and fear flirt within his subconscious, intertwining into a dance of dread.
Setting her cup down. “I have little time. There’s about to be an explosion“.
I know. Don’t go. Please.
His wife speaks with great effort. “I must. I have no choice”.
In desperation she turns to look at him, eyes glistening with deep pain. Much of the left side of her skull is gone, the remaining thick curls matted with dried blood. She places a hand upon his shoulder, broken and bleeding nails digging deeply. A distant part of her wishes to rest her cheek upon her hand. Instead she whispers “I am here at great cost to my soul. Please save her“.
She moans. “Not yet. It’s not time for her”.
The agonized mother begins to shriek. “It’s not time for her yet. I can hear it. It’s not time. Stop her“.
Masooma carries a small piece of wood. She sees her friend Ghazi carrying an even smaller piece and catches her eye, both girls starting to giggle. Holding hands, they enter the village.
A third American wears a pained expression, having heard the argument before. “Yes, I’m aware they’ve increased since he’s been in office. Greatly increased? Well, maybe. Look, he said he supported marriage equality. Would Romney say that?” Looking away, he mutters “We’ll just have to live with it. Have a nice day“.
Jarred awake, he reflexively kneads a throbbing shoulder and is shaken to find it wet with blood. He wastes precious seconds attempting to orient himself.
Stop her. It’s not time for her yet.
Remembering what he has to do, the father struggles to his feet, awkwardly beginning to run. “Masooma!”
Please save her.
Catching sight of his daughter, he waves and laughs aloud. Joining in the game, the girls wave and run toward him. None hear a buzzing noise, none notice a swiftly moving shadow overhead.
Masooma’s father sits quietly in the rubble, hugging a bloodstained sandal to his chest. He senses hands lightly touching each shoulder, cheeks resting upon each hand. The wind whispers “Come join us“. Affirming his faith in the one true God, he awaits his loved ones. The husband and father welcomes a swiftly approaching shadow.