A Short Story

By Johara Khan

It’s Friday. It’s been a heavy day. Neverending. There’s been something at my elbow all day. Tugging at my sleeve. I’m too tired to face it. So I pull it along with me as I go about my day.

I’m home now and I’ve put the sunflowers on my windowsill. They make me feel lighter. There’s a voice that tells me: this is not enough. I look inward and feel hollowed out.

Back to the window. I feel unmoored. So I take out a pen and some paper and cast a line: I start making a list. Not of the milestones, but of the things that pass imbetween; the small mercies that make up my day. I look upward:

The horizon dotted with radio towers and water towers and cliffs and lights.
An aeroplane blinking in the distance.
My plant, grown taller.

The list is beginning to take form.

An authentic conversation between strangers.
A book lent with love.
Meeting loved ones in dreams.
Tea with a friend.
A darkened cinema.
Shared understanding.
A chance encounter.
A mended garment.
Laughing at yourself.
An embarrassing confession.
A happy dog.
A prayer for peace.
Learning something new.
Working up a sweat.
Fresh popcorn.
Arriving safely.
Silly nicknames.
Wandering through a library.
Watching an electric storm.
Burning incense.
The feel of Friday night heavy in the air.
The fresh Saturday morning that follows.
Your Mum buying you sunflowers.

The light has vanished now and Orion is leaping across a sunless sky. As I gaze at my favourite constellation, dozens of other stars peek through. I’ve been writing a while now. And the emptiness is being filled with the ink of the words describing these small things that carry me from minute to minute – until my days no longer comprise of disjointed happenings, but are loomed together by a single thread. All of these small things not being present, not existing, without the melancholy that came before. 

The life returns warmly to my limbs and I’m feeling something. Else.