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Short Story: Layers

Rhona Lewis

“I took an abra, one of those little wooden boats, across Dubai Creek today.” Donna pulled her hair into a loose knot at the crown of her head and leaned back to face Ken, her husband. “Were you covered up?” Ken asked. “Of course.” Donna didn’t hide the frustration that colored her words. “Have I once — once? — in all these months gone anywhere without sweltering in that ankle-length skirt and modest shirt? Getting apprehended is not on my to-do list.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

abstract shapesDonna stared out of the window at the surrounding houses in Jebel Ali. The small village just south of Dubai was home to 300 expatriates, many of whom, like Ken, were involved in Dubai’s booming construction business. The asphalt on the neat, symmetrical roads shimmered in the merciless sun. Beyond, dunes of pristine white sand, crushed shell, and coral, the graveyard of a once-burgeoning sea life, shifted restlessly in the hands of a sculpting wind.

Ken cracked his knuckles. He always did that when he was uncomfortable.

“It’s okay, Ken,” Donna said with more enthusiasm than she felt. Ken was sensitive enough to understand her, even when she didn’t have the patience to spell out her feelings. That was one of the reasons she had married him six years ago. “I’ll manage. What’s good for you is good for me.” She shook her head, trying to toss away her frustration. Ken watched her tousled hair dance like flames. “Besides, three more months and we’ll be in good ol’ San Francisco on vacation.”

“Not long to go,” Ken agreed, and they sat down to eat supper.

They ate in amicable silence. When Donna finished, Ken pushed the bowl toward her. “Have some more rice, Donna.” It was part of their mealtime ritual. He offered her seconds, she ate a little more. The exchange, a routine as familiar as brushing his teeth, was his way of showing he cared. “Do you want to go to the Dubai Mall or can I listen to my MP3?”

“Go ahead, Ken. I’m exhausted from the heat anyway,” Donna said. She headed to the bedroom, wondering what Ken had been listening to so intently since they had moved here. He had mumbled something about Judaism, but what did that mean? She would ask him tomorrow.



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