'Are you scared, Becky?'
We stand in the alley, a few steps away from The Street, partly sheltered from the drizzle by a square of canvas someone has draped over ruined walls. Ahmed's voice is soft, which is appropriate in this place. The gentle compassion in his tone is not. It clashes with the violence that screams at me from every smashed and splintered building. Rain darkens the yellow stones like the memory of blood.
Are you scared, Becky? I hear the past echoed in my lover's words and my eyes fill, my hand lifting to my mouth in an old sign of contrition, while my throat works against the warm flood rising. Images flutter around my mind like bats wheeling in to roost, at home in darkness. I blink salt from my eyes and try to remain in the present. I don't want to remember. Please.
I pull at my scarf and pretend that I am simply cold. I do not answer Ahmed's question.
Are you scared, Becky?
'It's only a little further. Just across The Street.' Ahmed