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Selma Cook

How many times in our lives, have we needed a second chance? Something to occur that will awaken us from our apathy and sin. In this story, a woman is finally able to confront herself and reach for the better.

A streak of light found its way through the thick curtains, allowing a yellow light from the garden to filter into her room. It lit up the desk cluttered with papers and work yet to be done and the bookshelf with volumes of unread books.

Dalia lay snug under the woolen blankets, her reddish complexion looked vibrant, almost as if she were awake. Her eyes moved from side to side, occupied with some dream or memory that slipped away, loosening itself from a place far beyond her everyday recollections. All the things she'd ever said or done were contained, untouched in the corners of her mind. She knew very well, her state of worth, the reality of goodness and evil she contained - only in sleep could she come face to face with the stark realization of a life stained with mistakes, but which stalked each coming new day with an air of arrogance and proud feelings of invulnerability.

Her eyes opened and she looked around her room. Instantly she remembered the atmosphere in which she had first slept. The bitter feelings of resentment and anger rose within her once more.

"How could Huda do that to me? How could she speak about me behind my back, like that? She's been my friend for years!" Dalia thought to herself. Her face reflected the hardness of her feelings.

"I've overlooked so many weaknesses and discrepancies in that woman and I've continued in this friendship more as a favor to her, than to me," she told herself haughtily.

But Dalia had a plan to punish the betrayal of her friend. She knew her deepest, darkest secrets. The disclosure of private fears and regrets that are often verbalized late in the night, before a cozy fire, with a friend whom you trust and love. Tess had told her everything! How fortunate she was to know all this, especially now, at a time when punishment was the only way to relieve her hurt feelings.

Her desire to get up and drink some water was the means of her discovering what had happened. She tried to move her legs but she couldn't! She looked down at the shape of her body beneath the blankets. The outline of her arms, legs and body. Everything was there but she couldn't move. Only her eyes were functioning normally. She tried to call for help but her tongue was also disabled. How long would it be before someone would come to check on her? She lived alone. Fear gripped her heart and mind to a point that resembled death. To die, like this?

"What have I done to deserve this?" she thought to herself. She felt like she had been on the edge of a precipice and now she had fallen off it and was falling, falling, falling. To reach the bottom and die would be a relief but this state of helplessness was beyond compare.

Her eyes searched the room in fear. A fly buzzed about from one place to another.

"A fly can do, what I cannot!?" she cried within herself. "Am I no better than an insect? What will happen to me?"

She looked at the outline of her feet, pushing the blanket up to a point. Her feet which she could no longer move. She hadn't really thought about them until now. They were just something that she walked on; used, to get to where she wanted to go. Servants, that were often mistreated. Her arms and hands lay motionless at her sides. Had they worked against her? Was this a plot to destroy her? But she could blame no one for this plan of destruction, for everything was a part of her? So, was she intent on destroying herself? How strange.

If she could only use her tongue, to call for help. It would be of some relief. She closed her eyes in pain and dread. For this, could be the oncoming signs of death approaching; a life to end; the end of time for her. All her days had joined together into one mass of actions that belonged to her alone. She saw everything, in such a painfully clear way, without the disguise of false intentions and self-justification. She saw herself and wished she were dust.

At this time, she thought of no one. No mother or father, long gone. No children, no friend. No happy memories comforted her. She could think of no outstanding quality of goodness that could console her diminishing spirit. No self sacrifice. All her life she'd squandered her talent and time. Aiming at self- fulfillment. Driven by ambition to be the winner, proud of risks taken with high stakes. Was this the culmination of her life's efforts? A journey through time where she tried to carry as much of life's glitter as she could. It all disappeared now and left her alone, with only herself for company. A sorry partner indeed.

She closed her eyes hoping to sleep her last and let her disabled spirit exit this world while her senses were blunted in sleep. The loud clanging of the telephone roused her from her stupor.

Unconsciously her hand reached for the receiver but it was too late, for the answering machine had switched on and a message was relayed to her.

"Hey Dalia, this is Huda. Look I've got something important to talk to you about. This Samia has been spreading rumors about you and me! I don't know where she's getting the information from but we need to talk and find a way to stop her trouble making. She told me you've been talking behind my back, I know she's lying." The tape had finished.

Dalia sat up in bed. She rubbed her eyes in amazement and looked at the shape of her feet, still beneath the blanket. She moved them back and forth. They worked! She lifted her arms and wiggled her fingers. A smile of incredible happiness lit up her face. She was alive! It had only been a dream, a terrible one for sure, but only a dream! Perhaps there was only one more day of her allotted time, but here she was. She got out of bed, dressed and left the house.