All That Matters
By Khaleel Jooste
Copyright Khaleel Jooste 2013
Shakespir Edition License Notes:
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I seek prot**ection from sat**an the out**cast and I begi**n in the na**me of
Allah, The Graci**ous, The Mercifu**l.
Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (Surah Al– Baqarah 2:255)
As Allah wills
All that matters
You and me…together… forever.
25 December 2013
She opens the door. Tap-tap tap-tap.
The sound her cane makes on the tiles as she quickly finds her way to the corner of the room. She stops at the square desk and scans it with her hand quick.
Stapler. Empty glass.
Sheets wrapped in plastic.
Satisfied, she turns and tap-taps her way to the piano that was more in the center of the room. She starts playing. Christmas tune. Not happy with the noise the piano makes, she gets up and feels her way to the back of the piano. As she flips open the cover, she is startled by a faint, purple streak that catches the corner of her eye. She looks
slowly to her right. It throbs lightly.
A steady beat.
Slowly she reaches out towards it; her hand shaky as she is almost able to touch it.
“Lord have mercy!” shouts the janitor as the lights go on in the room. “Kimberly! How many times have I told you not to walk around in
the dark!?” He holds his hand to his chest as he gasps for air. “Nearly gave me a heart attack!” He breathes in deep.
She looks in the janitor’s direction, but quickly back to where the purple throb was. Nothing. She sighs. Shudders a bit, but soon gets a grip and focuses her attention on the janitor.
“Christmas too, hu? You must really love your wife.” She smiles. Feels for her cane and tap-taps her way to him.
“Merry Christmas, Bob.” She opens her arms. He embraces her.
“Merry Christmas to you too, Angel-face. Dare I say dear,” he takes her hand and looks her up and down, “you look ravishing. If Sarah didn’t have such a dog’s nose, I’d give you a wet one.”
He looks at her with a grin.
“Pity you never put up the Christmas decorations. Could have had yourself a freebie.” She tap-taps back to the desk in the corner. Feels for her chair and sits down.
“All in good Christmas cheer.” She smiles.
“You’re only kidding, right?” his voice filled with regret. She looks at him. Places her shoulders square on the desk.
“I do remember some mistletoe with the tree trimmings.” She blows him a seductive kiss.
“Kimberly Amber-Jane, if your mother could see you…” he puts his right hand to his mouth and goes completely red in his face. After what seems like forever, he takes his hand away; breathes in deeply. He reaches for his inhaler and takes a few puffs.
She looks up, gets up and tap-taps over to him.
Slowly she reaches for his face. He tries to control his wheezing and looks her in the eyes. Deep creases on his forehead.
“Don’t feel bad, Bob.” She runs her hand across his left cheek. Softly over his moustache and gently cups his chin.
“If mom could see me, she would tell me I was being a very naughty princess.” She steps forward and slowly, very lightly, kisses him on his right cheek.
“That will have to do.” She smiles and walks past him into the hallway.
“Please put up a few decorations. I would really like the children to experience the Christmas cheer. The piano needs tuning too.”
“You really are a perfectionist. I tuned it yesterday.” He puts down his tools and takes another puff from his inhaler.
“Sounds terrible. Perhaps I should hire a professional,” she winks and starts walking away.
“Kimberly Amber-Jane! On my sweet Sarah’s life, there’s nothing wrong with my tuning skills! Your ears are simply waaaaaaaay too sharp.”
“Perhaps you’re going deaf. Don’t worry, you’re ancient, it happens.” She tap-taps further down the hallway.
“Still got my charm though. What other antique could manage a kiss from a lovely lady such as yourself?”
“Love you too, Bob. Get home to Sarah. It’s Christmas.” “Gotcha, Angel-face. See you tonight. I’ll get to the piano
immediately.” He picks up his tools and closes the door. ﻫ
“I do miss Christmas, Mr B.”
She strokes the alley cat as it lies with its legs sprawled in the air on her waist.
“Like when Nana was still alive.” She rubs the cat’s tummy. It seems to be fast asleep. Purring softly. She was sitting outside the theatre.
“She used to buy us all new Sunday bests, especially for Christmas.” She sighs. Strokes a few strands from the corner of her mouth; the light breeze, gently playing with her long, brunette hair. Her brown eyes stare off into space. They were more a light hazel with a dark circle all along the edge of the irises. If it wasn’t for the walking stick, one would never say that she was completely blind. The sound of the water fountain relaxes her.
“We used to go around the neighbourhood and wish everyone a Merry Christmas, almost like trick or treat on Halloween. We got bags and bags of sweets and candy. Those were good times.” She kisses the cat on its forehead.
“That was way before the accident,” she sighs deeply, stops rubbing the stray’s tummy and turns it around. It gives a weak meow, curls up in her lap and continues to sleep.
“Now it’s only you and I, Mr B.” Kimberly laughs softly.
She looks over to her left and is startled by the blue glow that seems to be coming from the tree to the left of the bench she was seated at. She stares at it in wonder. It does the same throbbing thing the purple streak made in the practice room.
“Can you see that, Mr B?” She picks the cat off her lap and puts it on the bench, to her right; her eyes never leaving the blue glow that was now clearly visible. It slowly emerges more and more from behind the tree. She breathes shallower. Restricts her movements.
“Is someone there?” she utters softly. She waits.
No answer. Only the soft rustling of the water as it runs over the small rocks. The sound of the light breeze through the trees.
“Is someone there?” She asks again. She swallows hard and puts her hand to her mouth. The blue glow starts changing to purple.
This time there is more.
A sound that accompanies the throbs perfectly. Kimberly seems to hear it clearly in her ear.
An erratic beat.
It was like that of an irregular heartbeat.
“Are you hurt,” she asks worried as she rises to her feet and slowly starts moving towards it. Her left hand clutches her short, black dress; her right hand shakes, as she extends her arm towards the throbbing pulse. It seems to glow brighter as she gets closer to it. The beating gets louder too, but this time it is more regular; it seems to beat stronger. She reaches, inhales deeper and steadies her hand more as she touches it.
Kimberly gasps out loud.
“You practicing for tonight’s show, Angel-face?” He coughs and walks over to her.
“What’s with all the theatrics? Dancing with a ghost?” He chuckles. Picks up the cat and starts dancing with it, making circles around her.
Kimberly, still in a state of shock, looks to the spot where her hand touched it. Nothing. It was gone. She looks at her hand, still not sure what just happened.
Giving up, she listens. Slowly moves in the direction she hears him. Swings her hand and softly hits his big belly. It protrudes from the front of his very paisley shirt.
“Ah, you got me, again.”
He takes her hand, kisses it softly, and then gently guides her back to the bench. He drops the stray. It stretches, meows loudly and then disappears between the lavender bushes behind the bench.
Bob helps Kimberly to take a seat and takes a seat next to her.
“You okay there, Princess?” He reaches out a comforting hand; rests it on her shoulder.
“You look like you saw a ghost. Your face is all pale.” He rubs her cheek, worry in his voice as he asks.
“Is it the show tonight? Are you worried something will go wrong like last time?”
Kimberly looks to her left. In the direction of the tree. She listens. Intently. Focusing on all the sounds around her. Slowly she starts filtering them out. The fountain water. The wind that seems to pick up more. But that was it. There was no more beat. No more of the bl ue- pu rple throb. Disappointed, she turns her head and faces Bob.
“No. Only reminiscing. Mr B was keeping me company.” She smiles. “Got startled by something. Guess it was a ghost.” She looks back
“You never know, perhaps it’s the ghosts of Christmas past, paying you a visit. Cautioning you about your show tonight.” He regrets his words immediately.
“They can rest assured that nothing will go wrong. Last time was…” She doesn’t finish. Exhales loudly and sighs.
“An accident. That’s all.” He smiles.
“Yes, that is what it was. An accident.” She smiles and pats him on his knee.
“I checked everything. There should be no reason for concern. Come tonight, everyone will have a great time. You watch and see.”
“I’ll do my best not to bat my eyes too much,” she laughs loudly, “wouldn’t want to miss a thing.”
“That’s my girl.” He squeezes her hand.
“Tonight will be a night to remember. You’ll see.” “Promise?”
“I promise.” He kisses her hand. She smiles and then asks.
“Why haven’t you left yet? I must have been out here at least two hours.”
“Was about to leave when I saw you dancing with your mystery man. Got me jealous, you know. Had to come and make sure he knows who he needs to speak to first.”
“Mom would be so proud.”
He looks at her. Smiles confused.
“Go, Bob. Be with Sarah. I am fine. Thanks for all your help. I am sure tonight is going to be spectacular.”
“Alrighty, my dear. You be sure to get some rest. Don’t be playing the piano the whole day long; again. Rest. Okay.”
“Sure, dad. Good talking to ya.”
“Always a pleasure, Angel-face.” He stares at her a while. Gently squeezes her shoulder and then gets up and leaves.
She stares back at the tree, still wondering what it could have been. ﻥ
The room is dark.
The paraffin lamp the only source of light. He throws his back-pack onto the floor and immediately goes to his dinosaur of a computer; switches it on.
While he waits for it to boot up, he fiddles in the back-pack. Removes a few polaroids from a plastic pouch. Scans through the pictures.
Finds what he’s looking for. He removes a piece of paper from the back-pack and reads.
Name: Kimberly Amber-Jane Last name: UNKNOWN Location: UNKNOWN
Medical report: Irreparable damage to both eyes. Other: Possible match
He looks at the headshot at the top of the page. The face matches the picture. It must be her.
“Blind?” He looks confused. “Can it be?” He shakes his head.
After almost ten minutes, the computer is finally done booting up. He gets onto the web and logs into his email account. While he waits for the new mail from his brother to open up, he clears the maps off the makeshift table. Cardboard on a few bricks.
The sweat irritates his eyes. He scans the room. In the corner by the door he gets the fan, the one his brother always made sure to bring with whenever they had to move. That was often.
They were everywhere.
The fan is weak, but it does bring some relief from the hot, humid air.
He sits on the concrete floor of the square room and wipes the sweat from his forehead as he starts reading his brother’s email.
Peace be with you.
I hope you are alright. Please. Be alright.
Been difficult to get to a safe house. Think I finally found one. Owner up and left to find greener pastures.
Really worried, bro. Can’t say too much. Not sure this will get to you either. They fried all my equipment.
Hope you are eating and getting exercise. Stay away from the it in the you know what. Found some bugs in the last I ate. I have been
mowing the lawn. Nearly only roots left. Can’t seem to get myself to stop. That frog keeps croaking up. I will continue trying.
So far I have not been able to find others. But I will continue looking. There has to be someone. I have to believe that others survived too.
We can’t be the only ones. There must be others.
I miss you, bro. Only God knows how much.
It’s tough to stay clear headed. Not sure if the hoodies work, but it’s worth a shot. I don’t think it’s only the breeze though. But I won’t say much more. I’ll tell you once I have found out more. The base is nearby.
When the clock hits noon, be sure to sing that tune. That’s all that matters. Don’t hesitate when I tell you to fall.
Thanks again for the great music. It inspires me to stay strong. Feels like you’re here with me. Had a couple of dreams about you. Felt real. When you were a kid. Mom brought you to me. You were
but a baby. Then a bit older. All you wanted to do was hug me. I let you. The last I can’t remember. You were standing on top of a tower. It looked like a power plant.
I’m trying not to be sad. It is difficult. Not sad for myself. But, you know.
It’s all bad.
Don’t worry, bro. God will help us. The recovery has already begun. I can feel it. Don’t lose faith.
As long as you love me. Pray. Believe.
I wish we had another place. Merry Christmas
Bismillah “Please put up a few decorations. I would really like the children to experience the Christmas cheer. The piano needs tuning too.” “You really are a perfectionist. I tuned it yesterday.” He puts down his tools and takes another puff from his inhaler. “Sounds terrible. Perhaps I should hire a professional,” she winks and starts walking away. “Kimberly Amber-Jane! On my sweet Sarah’s life, there’s nothing wrong with my tuning skills! Your ears are simply waaaaaaaay too sharp.” “Perhaps you’re going deaf. Don’t worry, you’re ancient, it happens.” She tap-taps further down the hallway. “Still got my charm though. What other antique could manage a kiss from a lovely lady such as yourself?” “Love you too, Bob. Get home to Sarah. It’s Christmas.” InshaAllah