Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Old Head

Ali Fathy


The sword swept my neck precise and quick. I suffered little pain. Perhaps my senses fled so I would not be tormented. My head fell after that cleaver quick slice and bounced, like a deflated ball.

I was standing without a head…….. There was no blood. I did not know what to do, especially since I no longer had eyes. I did not see where my head settled. I went back home. Thank goodness the sidewalks were free of lampposts, pitch black, no one paid attention to me. I continued with great caution, depending on memory. My feet still remember the way at long last I was at home. I went straight to bed and fell into a deep sleep. I wished I wouldn't wake up after that stroke. I wished I could sleep as long as possible, I wished to die….

I don’t know how much time passed. I had many nightmares and dreams, where I saw people going to work, meeting and greeting me and I answered them carelessly, while I sat in front of the house. Nobody noticed anything; the sun rose and sat every day. The trees were the same. The buds bloomed in the spring and yellow leaves fell in the fall, whereby I knew one year had passed. These dreams visited me for a long time, until I bored and thought about waking up. I rose and sat on the edge of the bed bending my back, laying my head on my hand. What is this? A new head had grown on me. What a pleasant surprise‼ I could not believe it. I massaged it with both my hands. I rushed to the bathroom to look at the mirror. I was happy when I saw my head again. I noticed it was smaller than my previous head, but it was more stuffed with strange ideas. No problem. Now I can go out to people without fear of questions and curious eyes.

Although I was assured, when I went back in the same road, people chased me with their gazes hurting me like burning rays. They were whispering among each other. I moved away and looked at them. They still sent me their pathetic looks. The questions started to eat at my mid. What were they saying? What were they thinking? Had someone seen my death? Had anyone found my dead head?

If so, did they bury it or inform the police? And if they informed the police, why hadn't the police come to my home to investigate? Many questions, each question throwing me to the next one, until I almost entered in a vortex. I overcome that vortex when I approached the place where I lost my head. It was a side road. I turned onto it. I searched among the palms and dense plantations to no avail. Did the dogs eat it? Maybe. Congratulations to the dogs. My attempts to find it failed and I left. I walked to the cafe. When I arrived I sat among my friends. I noticed they moved away from me, with scared looks in their eyes. Some did not move away, but talked to me discreetly as if I were a ghost. I read mixed feelings in their eyes: panic, confusion, surprise.. .. to the degree that the sweat filled the face of one of them when he saw me. Their words were jumbled. I began to laugh, as I usually do with them. But they did not laugh with me in the same way, or their laughter was dead without a soul. I asked myself, did they know that I lost my head? This seemed to be the most likely possibility because one of them told me while staring at me with dazzling eyes: "You changed a lot!"



Ali Fathy: “I am an Egyptian short story writer. My stories were published in many cultural Arabic and Egyptian magazines. I have one published book which won the first place in the competition of short story book organized by the General Authority for Cultural Palaces (Egypt).”




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