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  • Writer's pictureAmr Abbas

Trip Down Memory Lane

The keys rattled in the palm of my hand as I walked down the street in rushed steps. I was panting, my chest was heaving up and down as I walked and my heart was pounding in my chest. They are here, again, they are after me. Sweat formed on my forehead as I stopped by the orange Mustang that I had inherited from my late uncle some years ago. The keys rattled as I tried to slip the key in to unlock the door. I could feel the nimble footsteps behind me. I had to leave. And then, the keys fell onto the road, between the sidewalk and the front wheel.

Perhaps it was the water that splashed over my leg, the panic that befell me when the keys fell, or perhaps it was even a defense mechanism to ward off my stalker, but a yelp did escape my mouth. The pearls of sweat mixed with the raindrops that had poured from the sky. I had to rush and so I dropped down onto one knee and attempted to fetch the keys. Soon enough, I felt the ring of my keychain slip between the digits of my fingers and quickly I picked up the keys and opened the door of the car. I could hear the nimble footsteps as they were closing in but by then, I had already got into the driver seat and locked the door. I did not even bother to fasten the seatbelt as I started up the engine and hastily backed away. As I turned my head, I saw the shadow of my stalker and without a moment of hesitation, I hit the metal with the pedal and drove away. The wheels screeched and screamed and the rear of the car wobbled for a second or two but I was fast with my escape.

I did not care for the red-light, there was no chance I would stop before I had already gotten out of sight and straight through to the highway I drove. Sure, I may have broken the speed limit once or twice or thrice, but eventually, I regained my composure and calmed down. I was miles away by then and there was no chance that he would catch me.

The signs were there all along, perhaps I just hadn’t paid enough attention. I remember when my mother spoke about my uncle and how he came to pass. She had always blamed the spirits, but I’d never blamed her. It turns out that she’d been right all along. The spirits exist, and they are not always kind. Perhaps they are after me because my uncle’s scent is still in the car. I should have listened when she warned me. I should have listened.

I still had no idea where I was going when I saw the gas tank light on the dashboard of the car turn orange. Of course, how could I have known that tonight was the night. Thankfully, the road signs assured me that the next gas station was less than a mile away. I sped up even more and took the first exit towards the gas station and there I parked the car. For a moment, I stayed in my seat and I turned off the car engine. I leaned back into my seat and for that moment, I felt the tension that had been built up all night somehow take me over. I could hear my heart pounding, but it eased, and my eyelids grew heavy and all of the sudden, I was back home. The green and red table cloths, the checkered curtains that annoyed me as a child, and I was sitting between my mother and my uncle and I could hear my father in the kitchen. It was a dream of that Christmas when I was 16. It was over a decade ago, but none of those people were still with me anymore. How bittersweet!

Alas, I woke up to someone knocking on the window of the car. I opened my eyes and in front of me was a man with a familiar face. Those green eyes were the ones that had haunted me, but there was something soothing about them, something that told me that he meant me no harm. He motioned with his hand that I should lower the window and I did and his voice came, calming my nerves as he spoke, “Margit, please, let me take you home.”

I felt paralyzed, as if his voice and his words cast a spell on me. I held onto the steering wheel and I saw the sign in the middle of it. No, it could not be. It was not the Mustang that I’d inherited. The hood of the car was not the orange I was familiar with. Even my hands were different. My skin wrinkled around the knuckles, my nails were not their fabulous length and around my eyes, I could see age. Even my hair was different, lighter and older. I had done it again. I had fled the house thinking that my husband was a stalker chasing me in the shadows.

I apologized. I apologized and apologized as I scooted to the passenger seat and there reflected upon my journey. Certainly, I knew at that moment that Josh was driving us back home, but I had also known that wherever it was that I was headed, it was never going to be the same.

Written by Amr Abbas.

Cover photo by Ouael Ben Salah.


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