tetouan

Miryam waits before she wakes the children. She waits because the birds are not yet singing and nothing moves, not even the almond trees. She waits because she knows in their sleep they remain children, oblivious. She lets Kaleb and Sara linger there, drifting through whatever dreams they may be having. Good or bad, the dreams are their own.

When their eyes open, things will be different. Miryam will have to tell them their father died in the night. She will not tell them that he went away or that he went to sleep. She will not tell them that he might be all right, that he is sick and receiving treatment and in good hands. She will just sit them down, right beside her on the bed, Kaleb on her left and Sara on her right, and tell them that he died.

She will say these words: “Daddy died,” and then she will tell them that they will be okay.

She will say, over and over again, with increasing certainty, “We will be okay.” Just as if she knew it to be true. As if she could promise such things.

Before the birds, before the wind in the almond trees, before the opening of Miryam’s children’s eyes, the call to prayer:

Allahu Ekber
Eşhedû en lâ ilâhe illallah
Eşhedû enne Muhammeden resulullah
Hayya ale-salah
Hayya alel-felah
Allahu Ekber
Lâ ilahe illallah

God is Great
There is no god but God
Muhammed is the Prophet of God
Come to prayer
Come to salvation
God is Great
There is no god but God

The hollow echo of the muezzin blankets the town. It is time for Miryam to leave her room, to kiss her children awake, to watch their eyes open slowly, to take them by the same hands their father often held. It is time to tell them.