Yellow dust swirled around in the warm breeze along with a plastic bag and loose paper litter. An old sign barely left hanging on the rusted hooks on the side of the old building squeaked as it’s pushed by the moving air. Some of the buildings around the empty lot were older brick or stone buildings that have had time’s scaring on their faces that have been attempted to be repaired with plaster or concrete. Qasim who was eight, was in the empty lot that believe it or not was once a playground, or so what he was told. All that’s left of this playground is the frame of the swing set which was on the verge of falling down due to neglect. Qasim stood with his hands on his hips looking at the swing set, he thought about climbing it but he heard someone tried it already and got hurt when they fell off. Looking around the lot, Qasim found a couple old barrels that he rolled over to the swing leaving them at the sides. Qasim then saw a bench and began to pull on it, trying to drag it towards the swing.“Do you need help?” A voice came just outside the lot. Qasim looked and saw a boy around his age if not the same age standing there. He looked from the boy back to the bench he was pulling and back to the boy and nodded, “It’s heavy! If we both pull together we should be able to move it!” The other boy smiled and ran over enthusiastically as Qasim made room for the other boy beside him and the two pulled the bench over to the swing together and with some guidance, Qasim and the other boy put the bench across the front of the swing, with the barrels on either side. The two boys sat on the bench that was facing inwards. “What are you making?” asked the other boy as he panted.“A fort.” Qasim said panting as well, “A fort or my hideout. I’m Qasim, thank you for helping me.”“I’m Yeshua. A hideout, why would you need a hideout?” Yeshua asked looking at the barrels and swing. “I was going to play super hero; every super hero needs a hideout away from everyone else.” Qasim said as he stood on the bench. Yeshua stood with him, “Why play super heroes?”“I want to be one someday!” Qasim said standing with his chest out and his hands on his hips.“Just like Superman?”Yeshua asked as he jumped off the bench, kicking up dirt as his feet hit the ground. “Nah.” Qasim said as he leapt from the bench and landed next to Yeshua, “He has super powers, I don’t have any. Maybe I’ll be my own kind of super hero! How about you? What do you want to be when you grow up?” Yeshua thought about it,“I don’t know, maybe I’ll be a super hero too till I know!” “We can team up and save the world!” Qasim held his fist out to Yeshua. “If we work together we can save more than the world!” Yeshua touched his fist to Qasim’s marking that the two have met on common ground and vowed their allegiance to uphold peace and justice. For now they decided to just “Train” to become super heroes and the best way to do so, playing make believe. The two used their imaginations that the fort was under attack by mutant aliens and the only way to fight them off was to spit on them while standing on the barrels that were the turrets of the fort, as luck would have it spit was the weakness of the aliens! After defeating the Aliens, the boys trained by playing tag which turned into a race to see who would run the fastest on one leg. Both Qasim and Yeshua agreed that the contest was more like who could “Hop” the fastest on one leg since running was rendered difficult. The boys then drew pictures in the dirt with sticks and took rests in between other games by sitting on the bench and just talking about anything and everything and learned more about one another and their families. The fun continued for another couple hours, going from playing super heroes to pretending they were lost in a cavern in the desert and finding lost treasure, fighting wild beasts from the darkest corners of earth and finally pretending they’re sailing around the world. The joy and naivety of youth was shattered by a women shrieking Yeshua’s name, soon followed by the same shrieking tone by another women calling for Qasim. Each woman came onto the lot and grabbed their son and glared at the other boy and each other. Qasim was scolded by his mother who told him to put on his Kufi which he had in his pocket, Yeshua’s mother scolded him in the same manner telling him to put on his kippah which he too had in the pockets of his pants. Each boy silently said goodbye to one another before being pulled in separate directions by their mothers who continued to scold each of them for being around the other. This would be the last time Qasim and Yeshua saw each other as boys, time will only tell if or how they will see each other but they would not feel the same way towards each other as they did this day. The boys will be taught to not trust the other or to despise the other for reasons no longer relevant. The hope for the future may have rested with these two boys but just as fate would have it, again that hope was smeared over by self-righteous prejudice and religious labels that’s less than skin deep. As the boys were led home, the swing set acting as the framework for their super hero fort collapsed breaking the bench and crushing one barrel while knocking the other on its side rolling away erasing Qasim and Yeshua’s peaceful time together as friends for a day.
Daniel S. Liuzzi, a Poet and aspiring writer from New York who is a lover of Sushi (anything Japanese really), Video Games and a good movie. Writes mainly Short stories of Strange Fiction, Fiction and Horror. Daniel had two poems published in the June 2011 issue of the Taj Mahal Review and in the past contributed to Far Horizons E-mag. Daniel is inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, HP Lovecraft and Vince Flynn.