These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder
Which, as they kiss, consume
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

She stood at the helm of the bed holding up her hands for me to see. I was blinded by the sun shining in through the trees. Adjusting my position to see her silhouette, I aroused the attention of those nearby.

I should say .. She’d always had a heavy lid for fear of being accessed. Of being watched. Of someone finding out that she is not who they think she is.

She was a little girl helping her mother rake leaves. I remembered her flying out of the front door carrying the smell of frying bacon and lavender.  Skinned knees. She grew up in an atmosphere tinged with the immature idealism and hope. But was ultimately lonely as most children are.

I was combing attics and basements in search of the other. I was saturated in an atmosphere tinged with skepticism, fear and inferiority.

That night, I stayed out late avoiding the loneliness of an empty apartment. The loneliness of the truth in your differences and what might dissolve into an insoluble solution. That would distinguish us as too incompatible when we find out we’re not who we think we are. That room where so much transpired lies on the sectarian fault lines of the Sunni fighters in the rebel Free Syrian Army and on the other side Alawite villagers fiercely loyal to the government.

“Why are you so dirty?” she said.

“al-Bara”

I could see her breath in the cold

I could hear her hiding underneath the bed.

“I didn’t know” I said.

She handed me a juice box and opened it for me.

“Will you remember me when I go?” She said.

“only in uncertainty”

“There is comfort in what constrains us”

I started crying. I didn’t try to hide it. It was the first time I’d felt normal. It was the first time I felt worthy.

Background:

In March 2011 President Bashar al-Assad and his regime opened fire on civilians. Following the example of Libya and Tunisia in the Arab Spring, citizens protested Assad’s authoritarian rule. In response to the regime’s attack on citizens, the defectors from Assad’s military formed the Free Syrian Army. The Assad regime is Syria’s Alawites, a minority offshoot of Shiite Islam of about 12 percent of the Syrian population but with strong support from the government. The Syrian rebels are Sunni.

New York times reported earlier in the spring that the CIA has been clandestinely involved in shipping arms to Syrian rebels, but will now openly supply aid to the rebels. The Obama administration remains cautious with regard to direct military engagement in Syria.

I’ve been watching a lot of pieces on war correspondents and it’s had me thinking about how we tell other peoples’ stories. I wonder how I’d tell yours. Or how you’d tell mine.

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