written by: Riham Adly
Every Sunday, on the park bench swathed in pink blossoms, from the nearby dogwood tree, Pedro would bring me those salacious BLT wraps with crisp bacon, grape tomatoes, shredded lettuce and that really good smelling pink sauce. I would shake my head desperately after bringing the sinful temptation to my nose and smack my forehead.
“Pedro, why can’t you get it?”
He was cute, his nativity exciting, his perplexing accent a challenge, and boy, I loved a challenge, but I didn’t like the necessity of having to repeat myself over and over and over.
That was it, I decided. No more Pedro.
“I like you.” That’s how it started. “I want you to teach me English”.
I’m the typical black sheep of the family who refuses to learn how to cook molokheya soup and vermicelli rice, the insidious rebel who, yet still, faithfully abides to the teaching of her 1,400 year old “Book”, the hopeless wallflower who would not agree to a preliminary groom viewing, and would refuse trying and of her parent’s “cheerful colors” only allowing herself the pleasure of being decked from head to toe in Aubergine black, cherry black and even mulberry black--- this one is reserved for all my headscarves, I have over twenty in this shade--- that does not contrast well with my pewter complexion and almond colored eyes, you’ll begin to understand why I took on Pedro.
I’ve always wanted to perform in poetry slams but was too embarrassed by who I was and how I looked. As a poetry major with no clear intentions or aspirations in anything whatsoever, I gulped Keats, Sexton, and Plath like that BLT I could not have and splurged in writing Rumi-like nonsense whenever I felt that itch for mysticism creeps in. My best friend Aisha had urged me once to read some of my nonsense, and that’s when I realized green-eyed Pedro lurked right behind us. Later that day he asked me to teach him English. I was no English teacher, only a so-called poet whenever I deemed it, so I decided to teach him through poetry. Nursery rhymes at first, then simple quatrains and cinquains, before evolving to some serious villanelles and triolets. I was proud when he was able to discern my eclectic free verse. I would always sign every poem with my name, and he would always bring me BLT wraps every Sunday, on that park bench, swathed with pink blossoms next to the Dogwood tree.
“Pedro, Muslims don’t eat ham sandwiches? Not even BLT? Why do I have to repeat myself every single time!”
“But you always end every lesson with Re-ham. From what I’ve learned, re, means to repeat, and ham is well, pork or bacon of sorts?”
“Pedro, what’s my name?”
“You’re the pretty Señorita in black.”
“I don’t have a name?”
“You are the Señorita in black.”
“That’s not my name.”
“Señorita in black that asks for a re-ham every lesson.”
She is also a creative writing instructor with several short stories published in literary journals such Vestal Review, Page&Spine, Café lit, The Ekphrastic Review, For The Sonorous, Fictional Café, Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse and The Alexandrian with forthcoming stories in Connotation Press and Writing in a Woman’s Voice magazines.
Her story "The Darker Side of the Moon" won the MAKAN Award in 2013 and was published in an anthology by the same name.
Riham lives with her family in Gizah, Egypt.