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Ice cream
Short story

April 17, 2002
The Iranian

If I had kept my mouth shut, if I hadn't said a word, maybe now we would be with Daddy. Maman says that a long time ago Daddy went to another country. She says he went there and is still waiting for us. We came here yesterday, to this airport where people are speaking in a different language. And from here we wanted to go where Daddy is. Maman says that Daddy told her that they have delicious ice cream there. Any color and flavor you want. I like chocolate; strawberry too. But I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I tried very hard, and I asked God to help me too. I bit my tongue so hard that I tasted blood. And then I was very scared, and forgot everything. Then the policeman came and bent down in front of me, and as soon as I saw his eyes, I forgot everything. I forgot about all those promises that Maman made too. She said that when we get there, we will go to one of those big supermarkets and she will buy me an elephant doll and a beautiful white rabbit and a chocolate ice cream. I forgot all of that and I was very scared and suddenly screamed, "Maman, Maman. I'm scared..." And then I started to cry. As soon as I saw the policeman with the big eyes and I couldn't understand what he was saying, and Maman couldn't understand what he was saying either, suddenly I got very scared... His eyes were big. So big. And his mouth was huge. As soon as he opened it he said something in a strange language. Then, his mouth opened bigger and bigger, like a huge cave that I see in my sleep at nights. I saw it last night too, a huge cave, dark, and I was falling in to it. Then my tears came and I cried, "Maman, Maman, I'm scared..."

When Maman suddenly looked at me, I got more scared. Then I knew that she was really angry with me, that I had said something, that I cried and didn't keep quiet. It was in her eyes. Like the other times that she gets very upset with me. Like the time that I got into a fight with our neighbor Sara and told her that we were leaving and were going to live in a different country. Maman was so angry, and told me never to tell anybody else that we are going away. Then the policeman looked at our passport again. He looked and looked at me and at Maman. Then he talked on the phone and then a policewoman came. The airport was full of people and noise. Then they brought us in this room ...

Now we are sitting in this room. Maman is filling out the papers that the policewomen gave her. Her eyes are wet. She is talking to herself. She says, I thought this Spanish passport would work, but my daughter had to open her mouth and cry in Persian that she was scared. Maman writes and looks at me. I'm still scared. Now I think that the airplane is gone too. I think I heard its noise when it went away. I know Maman told me, my dear don't be afraid of anything, and hold your tongue... Well, I got scared and asked God to keep my mouth shut and let it not be my fault. Now my tears are coming back and I'm going to cry again. Now, for sure, Daddy is there waiting for us. And the ice cream that he bought for us is melting in his hands.

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Ali Hosseini

By Ali Hosseini

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