Riham El-Ashry: The Lost City


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The Lost City

Riham El-Ashry

 

The face of a young girl screaming shined in the light of the descending sun. A massive wave covered her body and dragged her downward. Down. Down. She gasped desperately for air, but only water rushed into her lungs. Her eyes were terrified gazing upward, and her hand stretched asking for help, but in vain. A giant golden perch fish swam by, opened its mouth, and started to bite the girl’s arms…. 

———————————

Her screams awoke everyone in the house. Her mother dashed into the room, almost tripped over the carpet. And in a few seconds, she was beside the ten-year-old Amira, holding her tightly while reciting holy words. 

“Hush, my dear! What’s wrong? Is it the same dream? Is it that scary?” Mona ran her hand on Amira’s curly hair and patted her shoulder. 

“She was there. The same girl… holding out her hand and calling me.” Amira cupped her ears. “Her words echo in my ears.” 

The mother’s eyes moved between her child and her husband, helplessly asking for an explanation. The stepfather looked at the opposite wall and frowned. 

“You are only spoiling her. Don’t you realize why her nightmares disrupt our nights?? This is all fake. She’s making it up.” He turned his face away and was about to leave the room but stopped abruptly with eyes fixed on something on the floor. 

“What’s that there in the corner?” His voice which was trembling with anger now soothing roughly of surprise. 

“That olla? I don’t know. Maybe it is an old one. I don’t remember it,” Mona answered carelessly. 

Abbas was a pottery maker, well known for his talent and skill. His pots and vases were exhibited in rich bazaars and a favorite to tourists. He was a renowned pottery artist and everyone in Luxor and beyond knew or at least heard of him. 

When his beloved woman was forced to marry another, he felt the bitterness of being helpless and weak. Imagining his girl in the arms of another kept him awake for months. At first, he was lost, then he decided to be as rich and powerful as the man who stole his love. And he waited patiently for a chance. Seven years in hell made him determined to win her back after his rival’s death. 

Reaching what he long dreamt of was not now enough, his eternal love had a daughter who reminded him every second of his suffering and pain. The little girl represented her dead father in their life. And Abbas hated her, tried to annoy her and send her away. But this time, he didn’t mean to irritate the little girl. 

“What have you done this time?” The mother narrowed her eyes and examined him. 

Abbas, sitting on the colorful floor rug beside the strange piece. “Where did you find this beauty?”

———————————–

Merit waved to her mom who sat on the Hapy’s bank sorting the fish Merit and her stepfather were catching. The Ra was taking his marvelous fire life-giving disk down the sky. It was a successful fishing day for the small family. They packed almost all their belongings getting ready for the flood. It was only a week ahead and their hut on the bank would be destroyed soon. Addaya worked hard to collect as many fish as he could to secure food and trade for the coming weeks till the river became safe again for sailing. 

The mother started up a fire, she had some reeds to stick the fish onto. And she grilled two fish for dinner. Merit’s family loved to have dinner by Hapy and watch Ra blessing them through the golden rays of the sun. Searching in the woven basket, she found a decorative pot with some words inscribed on it. Among the words was her daughter’s name. Her eyes widened in dismay, it was an execration text on a drinking pot. 

“Who would curse my daughter?” She thought that it must have been done by Addaya who detested his former rival greatly. 

———————————

Abbas ran the tips of his fingers on the ancient vase. The blue ornaments and mysterious shapes took his breath away. Finally, he looked for a long time at Amira till she and her mother were perplexed. 

“No, you are not going to do this?” Mona stood between her husband and daughter. 

“I will. It is the chance I was waiting for, far too long. Finding an ancient treasure is my ultimate dream, not even you will compensate for that.” Abbas pushed his wife and grabbed Amira’s hand and dragged her out of the adobe room. 

Abbas’s house was built on a small hill on the bank of the Nile. It belonged to his family, and he inherited it. He lived there watching the great river and its west bank, imagining himself one day rich and maybe famous by a grand chance that his ancestors might bestow upon him. Often he gazed across the Nile and examined the Valley of the Kings and dreamt of the lost city, the Golden City, that archeologists searched for. Silently, he prayed this would be his chance. 

They descended the slope hastily. Abbas almost stumbled over a rock, while Amira was trying to pull herself backward and called her mother. The full moon lit up the whole area. When they reached the old boat, Amira pushed him and ran to the other side. 

“No, I won’t ride the boat. It’s.. It’s like the nightmare… The little girl drowned here.” She closed her eyes and suddenly became attentive as if listening to someone. “Do you hear that?” 

Abbas looked around and at Mona who reached the bank now, and said, “There is nothing, no sounds.” 

“Let’s go. I can guide you,” Amira uttered in a calm, assured voice completely opposite to her previous tone. 

“It’s the Pharaoh’s curse, don’t go, please,” the mother pleaded while Abbas and Amira sailed the boat to the west bank. 

Holding up a big lantern, Abbas followed Amira’s directions. They walked for a long distance towards the mountain. With every step, the silence intensified and the slope sharpened. The dust stirred around them as they went deeper into the valley. On a clear spot, Amira stood firmly, pointed ahead and said, “There. I found the pot there.” 

After a few weeks a marvelous discovery was announced, the Golden City was finally found. 

————————————

Final note: the Golden City of Aten was uncovered in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt early this month. All details in this short story are made up by the author. 

For reference: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-56686448

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Please visit Riham on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010254645147

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