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On the Way Home by Fatima Jamal Flyleaf Literary Journal Chicago Issue #21

"On the Way Home" by Fatima Jamal

Issue #21 / July 2016

Illustrated by Nina Palumbo


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FATIMA JAMAL is a Saudi writer. She lectures on writing at Taiba University and was the Glimmer Train Family Matters finalist. Her recent fiction appeared in CRATE Magazine, Crack the Spine and Apeiron Review. She lives in Jeddah with her husband and two children.




"It was unheard of that a widow like myself would fall in love after the shocking drowning of her husband and son—in a “manhole.” Three years dragged by until an arbitrary whim made me turn back. I rarely heed a voice calling for me. But that day, I did.

I was on my way home after dropping Lana at school when a man with a thick beard tapped my shoulder. “Help me, sister,” he begged. It was fall in Damascus. Chilly wind maneuvered his tousled hair. Flying pink and blue plastic bags from the soiled curb circled around us.

“Come by my side,” I said. His steps were confident. We sauntered in harmony like any normal couple and stopped by the closest café, where I could pass my morning with something interesting before preparing meals. The man had an angular face: cheekbones high, like hills, and a long nose of small flares. Eyes: brown. So deep, so small, the depth of the Red Sea. I lingered, taking in his features, imagining them without the unkempt beard and the curly shoulder-length hair. How much he resembles my dear dead Ali. My parents might again force me to live with them if they caught me sitting with this guy, an ISIS suspect to everyone but me...

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