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Fatima's Good Fortune

THE SUN SHONE INTENSELY ON THE island of Djerba in Tunisia. The beige earth refracted heat with the dry odor of ripe fennel and thyme. Fatima slid open the window of a bedroom in the Club Rêve holiday camp, let out the stale overnight air tinged with the irrepressible, bitter, funereal presence of new concrete, and breathed in the spice of the waning season. Beyond the empty beach, the sea off the peninsula of El Oudiane still had the indigo hue of summer, but there were waves far out like patches of cotton that signified a change in nature. Fatima felt the gentle shift coming on as she looked out the window at the sea, for just a brief moment, before continuing with her work….

She tugged the top sheet off the bed. A prophylactic fell onto the imitation Spanish-Arab tile floor. French people had made love in that bed. A blurred recollection of lovemaking came over her. Her imagination protectively censored the crude, mechanical details she’d experienced, but now she could not, would not push back a memory of her husband….