“Well?” said Abu. “Is he…?”
“Yes sir,” said the attendant. “He’s with the Lord now.”
Abu looked at the corpse. The eyes were closed, a hint of a smile on the mouth, the nose hawkish, asserting authority even now, the face uncreased by the years, not youthful but not old, certainly not old enough to lie supine and still. So still.
“We’re the only people who know this,” he said, stroking his beard absently, holding back the tears. “I don’t know how the rest will take it.”
“We can’t conceal the fact,” said the attendant. “Word will spread. The women are in the next room. They fear the worst. You will have to tell them, sir.”
“The women,” said Abu, hands rising to his face. “My daughter. My poor daughter.”
“You were his right hand, sir,” said the attendant rising to his feet. “You must hide your anguish. God knows what will happen when Omar…”
“He won’t take this well,” Abu agreed. “Omar, well, leave him to me.”
They entered the main room. It was dim and smelled of the desert. Abu could barely see the women seated in a half circle. There were stifled sobs and the clack of beads as some prayed.
“Everyone,” said Abu, his voice thick and hoarse. “He has departed from our realm. My dear friend. Your husband.”
“Father,” said a woman’s voice and he felt her against him, clasping his back. He stroked her head wordlessly, his body trembling from grief.
“Be strong, father,” she said. “We knew this day would come.”
“I know, dear daughter. I know.”
The house was filled with weeping. Abu rested his chin on his daughter’s head.
“We must be strong," she told him. "This is a beginning.”
There was a commotion outside.
“WHO IS IT? WHO IS IT THAT DARES SAY HE IS DEAD?”
An arm swept aside the cloth that hung over the door, letting in a bright sliver of daylight. Abu recognised the brawny silhouette. It was shaking.
“I WILL SLAY ANYONE WHO DARES SAY HE IS DEAD!” Omar cried. “DO YOU HEAR ME? I WILL RIP THEIR THROATS OUT WITH MY TWO HANDS.”
Oh, dear Lord, thought Abu.
“Omar,” he said letting go of his daughter. “Omar, friend. Sit down.”
“I WILL NOT SIT DOWN. DEATH TO THOSE-”
“Sit, Omar. Listen.” Abu took Omar’s meaty hand into his. Omar’s eyes were wide and moist and he was breathing like an ox.
“We were told of this day. He prepared us for it. Don’t let his words be in vain. He’s not God. There is no God but God, and only He is eternal.”
“But he was…” sobbed Omar. “He was the Prophet. He’s not human Abu Bakr. Have you forgotten what we’ve witnessed in the battles? Nothing could harm him. Nothing. It’s not supposed to end like this.”
Abu crushed his friend against him.
“To Allah must all return, have you forgotten?” the calmness in his own voice surprised Abu. “The Prophet was a man, Omar, just like us. Submit to Allah’s will, accept it Omar, before you cast yourself from the path.”
“He was perfect,” Omar wept. “O, Mohamed. O, Mohamed.”
“Tell me when you’re ready to see him,” said Abu, patting Omar on the shoulder.
They sat there, arms around each other.
“I’m ready,” said Omar finally, getting up to his feet. “I’m sorry, Abu Bakr.”
“Ask Allah for forgiveness, I’ve nothing to forgive you for,” said Abu Bakr, extending his hand to his friend.
They entered the room together.
when in doubt, whisper non sequiturs.
Last edited by chippedmonk; 01-29-2018 at 09:05 PM..