The Night that Led to Lilac Mist Next Morning
The sun had just set behind a hill but Hafiz knew that if he got on a quick camel, or if he could steal his neighbour’s moped, he could drive out into the desert and watch it set once more. This time of year it would roll gently along the edge of the hill as if it was made for this before plummeting into the depths below and casting the world in darkness. For now, the sky was a watercolour palette in the process of being washed out, blue streaks mixed with pink and red, green over white, everything eddying together. He shook his head and walked toward the sunset. Marya would be home by now, and she had said tonight was the night.
(When you sleep, your dreams escape through your mouth. Sometimes they get caught in your throat, trapped between dimensions, and they get into your blood and escape through your eyes instead. If you open the eyes of a dreaming person they cast colourful images on the nearest wall and it’s the most dangerous thing you can do, because raw dreams are not meant to be recycled like that. Somewhere faraway there is a legend of a man who gets a piece of cheese stuck in his throat, which makes his dreams go awry. The faraway people have got it wrong; likely the piece of cheese would pose no harm at all, because you can’t get cheese in your bloodstream. It’s offensively wrong.)
When Hafiz reached her hosue, he calmed himself down a little. Climbed the vines up to her balcony on the third floor and watched the colour fade from the windows opposite, and then waited. She would notice him soon enough. He could hear her cat meowing from her bed. And when she did, she would put her hands around his throat. He relaxed his muscles one by one, like they did in certain kinds of yoga. Deliberately falling asleep.