future media darling (sobota) wrote,
future media darling

We Can Be Heroes, or Shibusa

Danny's father moved them to Mombasa from London the summer before he turned ten years old. It was boiling hot, and Danny, having not started school yet, had no friends. He spent the days darting in and out of shops and tents, chasing after boys and girls his own age, but whether they were wary of strangers or this white boy with a funny accent was particularly frightening, he would never know. Near the end of summer, in August, Danny found shelter in a particularly inviting alleyway, sitting on the bottom step of a tall set of stairs and drinking the only slightly cool can of juice.

"What's your name?" asked a voice above his head and Danny looked up, eyes wide.

"Danny," Danny replied, looking at the boy in front of him. He was tan and stout, with curly hair. He must have been one of the Muslim boys, and if he was, Danny had come a very long way, indeed, because he lived on the north side of Mombasa with the other expatriate families. "What about you?"

"Khalid. Are you hungry?"

And so it was, every Friday after prayers, Danny would arrive at Khalid's house and be fed by Khalid's very kind mother. Khalid's father was a chemist, and they would spend ages listening to him describe his concoctions, even though neither of them really understood what he was saying.

Then school began.

"Why aren't you coming to my school?" Danny asked as they sat together on their favourite step.

"Because you are going to the expat school, and I am a Kenyan," Khalid said, and shrugged. "I am not allowed."

"Well, that's stupid," Danny said. "I want to go to YOUR school then."

Danny tried rubbing the dry clay dirt onto his skin, to make him look 'African', but his father just roared in laughter and told him that he should be happy, being white. Danny wasn't sure what that meant, and it hung over his head every time he ate with Khalid's family.

"Why am I white?" Danny asked his father one day.

"You'd do better to ask why the sun rises in the East," his father replied.

"Because of the rotation of the Earth, of course," said Danny. Danny was always a clever boy.

Danny's being white didn't seem to bother Khalid, and Danny couldn't care one whit that Khalid was dark, so their friendship remained true and strong, right until Danny had to leave Kenya at the tender age of thirteen. The last dinner at Khalid's house was sombre, and they barely talked. Afterwards, Khalid tugged Danny up the stairs to his tiny bedroom and pulled a box out from under his bed. He thrust a box into Danny's hand.

"Don't open it until you get to England." He looked at Danny. "Promise."

"I promise," Danny said, clutching the box to his chest and reaching out to hug Khalid close. "We'll see each other soon."

Khalid smiled. "I don't doubt it."

Danny couldn't help but sneak a peek into the box on the plane; in it was a small scroll written in Arabic and a clear red dice. Danny tapped his father on the arm. "What does this say?"

His father pulled out his glasses, running his finger over the scroll and mumbling the words. "The souls of two friends will meet throughout the day, even if they do not see each other." He looked up at Danny. "That's a nice idea."

Danny took the paper back from him, and hugged it close to his chest, turning his head and looking out the window as the setting sun settled behind them.
Tags: lj idol
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