The Paper’s Final Fate
Essam H. Al-Baqshi
There, at a sidewalk kiosk, sat the last copy of the final print run of his favorite newspaper. Slapping a coin onto the counter, he snatched it up to enjoy at home, cherishing a final chance to smell the ink and feel the paper between his fingers.
This action offered him a glimmer of reprieve from the profound depression he’d felt when the publisher announced their intention to stop printing hard copies, leaving readers with only the digital version.
With the paper tucked securely under his arm, he walked along the sidewalk, deep in reverie. As he crossed the road, a reckless driver plowed into him at full speed, sending his body several metres along the asphalt until it came to rest, bloody and lifeless.
A passerby gathered the scattered newspaper and spread its pages over the face of the unseeing corpse.
A Rose from Philip’s Sweetheart
It was never a custom of mine to write annotations or comments in the margins of books while reading. The only time I ever did, was after reading a novel that left me frustrated and stirred by the hero’s misery in love.
On the last page, I’d penned, ‘I feel like Philip.’
When the novel later disappeared from my library, I asked my sister if she knew of its whereabouts.
‘My friend Allia asked to borrow something to read last summer, so I lent her that one,’ she replied.
Time passed and I forgot about the book. I forgot I had written on the margins and, most of all, I forgot my sister had lent it to Allia, her friend with the smooth, tawny complexion.
More than ten years later, I stumbled over that very book, tossed in a box of old photos and keepsakes. Upon opening it, the remains of a shriveled, withered rose fell to my lap.
There, on the last page, just below my own words, the tawny-skinned girl had written, ‘I wish I were Philip’s beloved.’
Magdy H. Saeed
My father’s words echoed in my head as I watched the gravedigger strike the ground with his pickaxe. The hole grew wider and wider until finally, its mouth agape, the ground swallowed my father’s body whole.
When I was young, I helped my father till the soil for planting. My weak attempts hardly dented the ground, so my father would snatch the hoe from my hand and drive it down with all his strength. Gradually, the sod turned and revealed the subsoil underneath.
‘Scare the ground and it will fear you, son,’ he instructed me with his usual enthusiasm.
Now, as I wiped tears from my eyes at his graveside, I wondered, Which of you is afraid now, Father?
Magdy H. Saeed
My canary had been in mourning ever since his female companion had died. The poor bird lost his will to eat, drink, and even sing.
Often, I would find him perched in a corner of the small cage, sad and emaciated. I held such pity for the creature that one day, I opened the door and released him.
After flying a short distance, the canary landed on my balcony railing. He frantically shook his head then returned to the cage, to the corner where his partner had died. With stifled chirps, he nuzzled the spot, fluttering for a few seconds before tucking his head under his wing.
Overcome with a deep longing, I snatched the phone and, without hesitation, begged my wife to forgive me and come back home.
Essam M. Al-Jassim is a Saudi translator. He taught English for many years at Royal Commission schools in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. He received his bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and Education from King Faisal University, Hofuf. His translations appear in a variety of online and print Arabic and English literary journals.