The Sahara Affair


It was a good deal easier when I reviled you. I can’t remember that so much now, since you have crossed the vast desert of my heart yet again, that barren wasteland born of decades of unmet desires. You caught me off guard this time when you appeared by smart phone, your number blocked, your face a billion sandy pixels, a digital mirage. I felt woozy from the sudden heat of you. By the time you arrived in real time, blazing for me beneath a Saharan sun, I was already feeling wavy. You set me spinning like a child’s toy top: fast and faster still, until all my stripes blend blue and I approach lift-off.

It is always like that with you and me. I am forever at tilt where you are concerned, and it is safe to say that you know just how to play me.

A desert heart is strange and mysterious, the glassy sands of feelings and memories rearranging themselves, over and again, at the slightest hint of a desert breeze. You traverse this sandscape without pausing to consider the thirsts that will ensue. This time, the voyage was long, but you pressed on, magnificently, sandbank-by-sandbank, in urgent need of something you believe that only I can provide. When you found me, as you always do, I was dipping deep into an oasis of Margaritas, top shelf, three tequilas required to anaesthetize me against the illusion I knew we were about to create. Your ancient powers are impressive where I am concerned. You appeared, and in that scorching moment I forgot, as I am want to do, the many nights I have spent filling that same desert pool with the briny tears of a woman febrile with longing.

We set up a tent of soft Egyptian cotton with an obscene thread count, a billowing tent for two the color of an inky night sky. We drank the Moscato you know I like, straight from the canteen that is its bottle. We imagined ourselves nomads braced against the shifting sands, and we pretended it meant nothing, and that time had stopped, and that it was meaningful and necessary, and that if no one bore witness, it had not really happened.

The reviling is really much simpler, you know.   It is not hard to conduct a symphony of anger inside your soul, and turn it up so loud that you hear nothing but the sound of your own heart begging you to stop. I ruined your life, you said, by reminding you of the true connection that lives beyond the boundaries of lust and desire and the conventions of commitment. Bullshit, I said, there is nothing lofty about this. You take what you want, my charming conqueror, and you always have. Do you think I haven’t noticed that you cc yourself on every email you send me? Calculated, I said. I will always love you, you said. Always.

It is easy to revile a man like that; a premeditated man who believes he can outwit me with no effort at all. You plead not guilty where I am concerned, every time, and you argue your case in the interest of winning, not justice. And even sunblind and Margarita-hazy, I can see clearly that this does not resemble love. I am a temporary tattoo upon your heart, but you have marked mine indelibly, row after row of hatch marks drawn in permanent marker.

So you have returned once more, shimmering in the heat, to send me into the stratosphere above the infinite desert sky. You came and pillaged me. When you left a sudden sandstorm erupted in your wake, obscuring your departure and leaving me gasping, my silt-filled lungs unable to find my breath. You left me here, tangled in the gritty bedclothes, wondering what the hell just happened and how long it will take me to recover this time.

There is no regret, you know, quite like the regret of I-did-it-again.

Now you will disappear once more, indefinitely, into the thorny wilds. You will hide for a time in the damp and murky underbelly of a city I have always hated, leaving me to wonder what terrible desert wind erupted and carried all reason and judgment away. But before you left you ran me a hot shower just the way you know I like it. I rinsed you away, baptized myself clean. You left no trace but for a vague and arid memory, the memory of that reviling, for me to resurrect once more.

The desert is a wasteland, but I suppose you will find me there when you return.

About Allison B Friedman

Allison B. Friedman, known to her friends as Allie, submitted her first manuscript to Doubleday when she was five years old. Sadly, it was rejected, but she did receive a personal note from an editor encouraging her to keep writing—so she did. Writing, like breathing, is essential for Allie, who has joyfully produced award-winning short fiction, prose poetry, years and years of newspaper and magazine columns, and original content for a weekly radio show called “The Therapy Sisters.” Allie’s work has been featured in a number of small literary presses, including the literary journal Beanskeeper, and she was a winner of the Poughkeepsie Journal’s “Tailspinners” short story contest. An active member of the Wallkill Valley Writers community, Allie has published her work in the group’s anthology. Her short story, “Sahara Affair,” was born in the Wallkill Valley Writers Workshop, and was published in 2013’s award-winning anthology, “Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley.” A practicing psychotherapist, Allie wrote a newspaper column, oxymoronically entitled “Understanding Adolescence” and a monthly column about wellness in “Living and Being” magazine for a number of years. The voyeuristic observation of the intricacies of the human experience is endlessly fascinating to her. She has been a frequent contributor to a number of professional websites, including the Parent Resource Network, where Allie served as a staff writer and was on-call for the website’s “Ask the Expert” feature. Allie was honored to deliver a keynote address at the annual conference of the National Association of Social Workers on the subject of utilizing creativity in social work practice. Allie’s love of writing led to the creation of a therapeutic writing curriculum, which has been well received by her clients. Allie lives in New Paltz, NY with her wonderful husband and, at any given moment, some or all of their collective seven children. She wouldn’t know an empty nest if she was sitting in one. Current projects include a the completion of a novel which she swears will not defeat her, building a blog, and spending as much time as possible with her newly minted granddaughter!

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