In the distance, a small figure in a long black veil stood next to a tree in the desert. The wind was blowing the veil about, but it never lifted. Maheen started to walk over and felt the wind get stronger with every step she took. As she neared the figure, she realized it was too small to be an adult. Suddenly she stopped. She had a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. She started to call out to the girl, but before she could say a word the girl raised her finger to her lips then bowed. Maheen just stared. By now the wind was so strong she could feel it trying to throw her off balance. The little girl stood strong and steady.
Maheen decided she had better get to the shelter of the tree and so started to move again. With her second step forward the little girl disappeared into the ground leaving the veil behind. It fell like a magician’s handkerchief when the dove under it disappears. The veil didn’t blow away, though. It seemed like a puddle on the dry desert ground. Maheen made her way over to it and found she was looking down into an abyss. The wind whistled around her, nudging her closer to the hole. She couldn’t move away from it. She began to sway. Then a huge gust of wind picked her up off her feet and dropped her into…
Maheen jerked awake. She felt her heart racing and adrenalin shrieking through her system. What was that? It was one of the strangest dreams she had ever had and she didn’t remember having many. Something about it made her skin crawl and brought up thoughts of her childhood in Iran. She hadn’t thought about it in a long time. In fact, she was nine when her mother took her and left Iran, she hadn’t thought about it again, until now.
When she felt her heart beat return to some state near to normal she threw the covers off and sat up. She was dizzy. “That was a real shaker upper,” she told the fish on the other side of the room. She looked at them still drifting in their sleep. She wondered if they dreamed and if so, about what.
Today was going to be a busy day. She grabbed her watch off the side table. She was already getting a late start. She looked over at the alarm clock. It was blinking. Apparently the power went out last night which is why the alarm didn’t go off. One of these days she’d remember to get a battery for the backup.
She got up and headed straight to the bathroom, no time for her usual cup of coffee. She needed to be out the door in five minutes to get over to the center and come back with the Sufis before their talk at the woman’s shelter. They were scheduled to speak at ten a.m. so it was going to be some kind of miracle if she could get over there in rush hour and back again by ten.
She flicked on the radio as she pulled out the toothpaste.
“…construction on the five is still on hold. Funds are still not available since the collapse of the bond market last spring. Continue to take alternate route. The 10 is backed up due to an overturned rig. It will likely be backed up for a couple of hours. There is no cleanup crew available. And…
Maheen switched off the radio. “Damn it! I guess it’ll be surface streets part of the way. Better just rinse and go.”
She threw her t-shirt on the floor and jumped in the shower, not waiting for the water to get hot. Ice cold water pelter her small frame. She swore through her chattering teeth and hopped around while pouring body wash over her goose-bumped skin. She wished she believed guardian angels. One would certainly come in handy today.