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Too confident for their own good. Reza shook his head. Reza was presenting blueprints for a hotel design when he received the call. We managed to momentarily stabilize him, but his bleeding was too excessive.
Reza had excused himself from the meeting, sitting in an air-conditioned hallway with the phone trembling in his hand. Reza hung up then, setting the phone aside.
He stared at his reflection on the granite floors, and he thought he saw Ahmad waiting over his shoulders. When they were younger, all the light that anybody had came from little lanterns in little homes in a little village that barely registered on the map. Reza would drag Ahmad up to the hill by the soccer field, where the grass smelt of manure and rain.
Ahmad chuckled, shaking his head.
Painting the Forth Bridge – a short story by Doug Johnstone
Reza glared at him, then, laughing. I thought I taught you better. Reza stared at Ahmad for a long while. He smiled. It was odd, of course.
Anomalous, even. He had been offered multiple jobs after graduating from university, but the one job Reza chose brought him back home. It had become a thriving crossroads, a place where travelers would drop off the newly built highway and rest for a little while. Hotels sprouted like weeds, and everything else grew with them. Reza designed most of them.
A brief survey of the short story part 23: JF Powers
There was a sense of pride in that — he had helped his hometown climb up to the sky. The night was calm, and the stall-keeper was too busy organizing Coca-Cola bottles to eavesdrop on them. There was a long silence between them. Ahmad took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his jacket. Ahmad took a long drag, before huffing it out through his nose. What do you think will happen to them? Do you know how many children I see, selling newspapers on the street? Do you know how many old men I see sleeping on the sidewalk while I take a bus home?
Do you know how dangerous it is for a woman to walk alone at night? Where do you think all of these things came from, Reza? There was the sound of gritting teeth, then silence. Father Gregory asked me why I wanted to be an undertaker. He said nothing so I starting telling him about formal-dee-hide which is a chemical used to make dead bodies look alive.
BBC Radio 4 Extra - Ronald Frame Short Stories, The Railings
He patted my head and said that we never really die, but our soul is released from its prison of flesh. He said we will be very happy on that day. Once Muffins is in his coffin, I straighten his coat and brush his fur to make it neat. I bow my head and say a prayer by mumbling made-up words like Father Gregory. Then I put the lid back on and place the coffin very slowly in the ground. I push dirt over the top of it and pat it down. Then I sit and wait quietly in the grey garden. Slowly, the birds start to get noisier, and a little bit of pinky-orange light comes through the trees.
A Short Story
The clouds are the colour of my dark jeans, but they are slowly fading to pale blue. Mummy said that before sunrise, the world belongs to us. And that when the sun comes up, we need to share the day with other people. When Mummy was buried they put her in a very nice wooden box. Dad told me that inside the box Mummy was wearing a black dress and red lipstick and her hair was all wavy. He said she was lying on silk and a comfortable pillow. I asked Dad who gave Mummy the black dress and lipstick and he pointed to the old man by the sandwiches.
Mr Cartwright smiled and I thought he was going to pat my head like Father Gregory always does but instead he put his hand on my shoulder and held it there. So we also want them to have a good death. In my opinion, a good death is as important as a good life, if not more important — for we are dead far longer than we are alive. And playing Candy Crush on her iPad and trying to get a better score than me. She also liked waking up really early and waking me up too and going outside to watch the sunrise from the deck.
I was worried he was going to laugh but he just smiled again.
What matters is the ritual. When I am finished putting everything back in the box, I stand up and look at the patch of dirt. The sky is bright now and the garden is colourful, and I can see that the grass is very wet. I go inside and put my box of things by the back door and then wash my hands before breakfast.
I have a little brush to help me get the dirt out from under my nails.