‘Adolescence’ by Mohammad Aljarmoshi (Jordan)

Short story selected for the 2010 New Asian Writing Short Story Anthology

A snow-white ceiling, an electric lamp in the middle. This was the first image my eyes captured; I closed them promptly trying to catch the train of somnolence I fell from, yet, I found I could not.

I surrendered to the morning call as usual. I opened my eyes anew and looked at the window, the curtains were drawn; however, they couldn’t keep the sunlight from sneaking through towards my pillow. Damn it! How many times did I think about moving this bed so nature wouldn’t make me wake up at dawn?

With a lot of effort, I stretched my sleepy hand slowly trying to reach the night table. The clock’s moving hand pointlessly activated its alarm, undergoing the waking task already accomplished by the sunlight.

Too heavy is this damn hour in the morning!!…or is it my hand that could not shake off its sleepiness? The clock read twenty to six. I put it back in place and waited a while before getting up from the comfortable bed.

I removed the cover from my warm body, sluggishly… my limbs shivered happily by the first cold breeze that has been waiting for so long!

I knew it would be a nice day! For no particular reason, just as it was a sunny day.

How much I missed such days! After a sterile winter that does not even deserve its name.  It is a winter unlike any other I witnessed in the past years and which we used to recall throughout the summer and spring, scented with the warmness we sought in each and every corner.

Memories fragranced with roasted chestnuts and acorns, and night gatherings around the fireplace accompanied by grandmas’ tales – a winter which, unfortunately, no longer makes us remember, nor long for, anything but rain!!

I woke up once again!  But this time I awakened from the ideas and daydreams which gave me the deathblow in the early morning hours.

I put the radio on and changed stations until I heard a song for Fairouz. As if it was a tradition to be followed or an inevitable obligation. This singer’s music and songs have always been associated with the morning!!

I still have plenty of time before I have to go to college – two hours or more!! Nevertheless, I must get up!!

The smile overtook my lips without any forewarning, just for thinking about it?! Once again, I turned my eyes towards the clock – it is five past six!

Oh my God!

Less than ten minutes were left!  I jumped towards the mirror and started straightening my long shaggy hair!

I tried to conceal the contours and traces of somnolence off my face, then headed directly towards the window. I opened the curtains, and my slightly opened eyelids shrank more when they met the bright light which invaded the room – driving away darkness or what remained of it!

I stretched my arm to move from my eyes a lock of hair which was cast across my face by a short breeze. The street view was as usual – rarely does it change. Cars and buses transporting students, businessmen and employees. Peddlers increase the noise of the scene.  But I cared for none of that! I turned my eyes towards one particular house facing the window.

The sound of my heart beats was almost louder than any other sound. Even that of Fairouz!

Oh my God!! … He will be out in a few minutes!

Often have I laughed at, and mocked, all that I have watched and heard of love stories. I did not believe them to be true! Many times have I thought that they are full of exaggeration and an overstatement! However, never did I think that I would one day bear grudge against writers of movies and soaps for not conveying even a notion of lovers’ true sentiment!

My entire day is conditioned by a sole glance from him! I wait for him every morning – content with watching him from afar! However, this is not all that I am planning to do! I am seeking more than that, but I dare not!! Several times I tried to find a reason to talk to him or even make him look at me!

What a damned life!

It is not a one-sided love, but an impossible love!

I believe, with some certainty, that for such a guy he must be attached. And by this time, he must have broken many hearts already! I knew all that and more. However, despite everything I would still love to see him at every given opportunity, at all times.

Is it a miracle or exceptional hearing which made me aware of the sound of the key turning in his door? I adjusted my posture and pretended to be looking in another direction, but in a way that enabled me to see him going out.

What a disappointment! It was his sister leaving! Where does this insane girl go at such a time? I hated her just for the act of showing up! She beckoned with her head drawing a smile on her lips; I only shook my head in return, saluting her.

I did not wait for long. Less than three minutes later, the door was opened again. It was him! … Oh my God! … He looks more and more handsome every day! He has not been in that house for long – less than a month. As if I want him only for myself! I don’t want him to get to know anyone but me!

I do not think he even notices my presence, and as if he deliberately withholds his gaze from me.  He walked away quickly, my eyes following him until giving up to the curve in the road that swallowed him. I felt that same bitterness that takes over every day, at the same time, and for the same reason.

He would be about my age – in his early twenties – and a guy who attracts people’s attention with his charisma and charm.

How can I control my feelings? No one taught me to look at him and love him, or dream of him by my side, or holding me in his arms. Yet this is what I felt – a strong desire destroyed all that I’ve learned during my short life, or at least the years that have gone by.

What a life!  What miserable and woeful creatures we are! We spend our lives learning theories, principles and ethics, and in the blink of an eye, we might sacrifice everything for an innate desire we’ve rarely heard about?  On the contrary, we used to be on the lookout, afraid of falling between its claws; it was considered a sin!

Is it a mere feral desire? I think not! … I love him! …What is wrong about that? … He will never love me? Why not? …. A hopeless love! … It is only a desire! … There is nothing called love! … But?! … What is it that I’m feeling?!

Why am I exhausting my body and mind! Why am I ruining my life, just for the sake of a desire or an ecstasy that I might reach all by myself! Within five minutes or even less, with four fingers, a palm and a thumb!

Will I stop loving him then? I think not. Who taught me that? … No one…!

All of these ideas and worries went out of my mind as the ringing alarm on my night table broke the silence of my imagination.

I swallowed as if I was spitting at myself from the inside! For thinking about such matters.

I tried to forget, or pretend to have forgotten, all of that. I went back to Fairouz, to the noisy street and real life. Back to the same bitterness and grudge I carried against the society, values and ethics.

I shook my head as if I was forcefully shaking away all these questions and ideas. I was about to go out when I heard the repetitive knocks on the door followed by my mother’s calls:

“Adam?  Did you get up? … It is quarter to seven!”

I almost burst into laughter when I heard my name! …

Or maybe it was a strong urge to cry when hearing it? For it was the first thing this morning that reminded me that I am a man.

I swallowed again and went to open the door.

Illustration by Katherine Jones

About the Author:

Mohammad Aljarmoshi is a 27 years old male from Jordan in the Middle East. He is a current student of an MBA degree at Yarmouk University in Irbed-Jordan, and a bachelor degree holder of English Translation from ASU “Applied Science University” in Amman-Jordan.

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