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by Riham Adly

One man’s wit against all men’s wisdom

Like a proverb, I want to slowly, sadly and gladly outwit them all. I want to find my wish and understand why.

Wisdom is starting at the end

My wishes drown in the well along with the coins they cling to, hitting rock-bottom in a silent thud.

When she jumps, she knows it isn’t the end, but the rush of air hitting her face and the rush of air escaping her lungs gives her the seconds-long relief.

They hold hands together, burgundy robes flying about, and start singing an octave below middle C, blinded to the cries, deaf to the smoke from their burning feet.

You won’t find wisdom in a book

The smoky, charred warmth of falafel crumbles in my mouth. Gin and tonic slides across my teeth, smooth in my throat.

I bite into a Granny Smith. The crunch leaves bloody bite marks.

The call for prayers from the diminutive mosque-in-a-building reminds me of the leather-bound tome that hurts my wrists.

Time can be as burdensome as the tongue in my mouth, but lighter than the wings I want for my birthday.

The wisdom of not knowing

Mama keeps a scrapbook of fortune cookies. She hides the tales, the answers.

When I asked my mama Why, she answered with a shrug.

In the station, inside the interrogation room with the they-can-see-me-but-I-can’t-see-them mirror, they ask me, “Why?”

Why push the struggling housewife off the roof?

Why burn the choir ladies on the stake?

Why eat the federal reserve of falafel and drink the last of the surviving gin and tonic?

No one asked about the apples and bloody bite marks, or her scrapbook.

The wisdom of finding out

Again, there’s something about the call for prayers — the sound. I can see the notes drowning with my silent coins at the bottom of the wishing well.

Who gets their wish?

No one?

Or is it … everyone?

I answer all the interrogator’s questions with my mama’s shrug. Her smile cracking my face.


Riham Adly worked as a volunteer editor at 101 Words and is currently a first reader/marketing coordinator at Vestal Review. She is also a creative writing instructor with several short stories published in literary journals such Vestal Review, Page & Spine, Café Lit, The Ekphrastic Review, For the Sonorous, Fictional Café, Paragraph Planet, and Visual Verse, with forthcoming stories in Connotation Press and Writing in a Woman’s Voice. Her story The Darker Side of the Moon won the MAKAN Award in 2013 and was published in an anthology by the same name. Riham lives with her family in Gizah, Egypt. You can find her on Twitter @roseinink.

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