Salwa and the Bears

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Brakes scream. Momentum lurches Salwa in her trunk. A gaunt’s claws cut through the car like a rake through litter;

there is news from Iraq that we hear not of.

Salwa tumbles out and her blindfold catches on a rock. It rips from her eyes. She sees the gaunt;

flowers bursting to bloom; and laughter.

It is tall as houses, its arms swept back, trailing its long grey claws. Its beak is a sword. There is facing it in the street a small and fuzzy bear.

Its hand moves quick as death. Its nails come for the bear;

there is news from Iraq that we hear not of: flowers bursting into bloom; and laughter.

The nail bursts through. Or no: rather, the bear has moved aside, catching the nail of the gaunt between its arm and body. The bear turns in a jujitsu form, never releasing the nail, and the creature rolls sideways into the home of Najat bint `Aljan, cracking its arm bone, shattering brick, crushing Najat and her child.

The gaunt is tumbling to its feet and its wings snap a telephone wire. Its other hand brushes towards the bear, but the bear is already on the gaunt’s long arm, running towards its face.

The cloud on the chest of the bear is brilliant in the night.

The gaunt’s foot shifts. It lashes back towards Salwa, the heel point like a knife.

there is news from Iraq that we hear not of.

In a blur there is another shape before her. It is a bear. We do not talk of the bears, not since they made their failed play for Gonzales on his throne. But they are there. They are there. It is there.

Its symbol is invisible to her; but the foot cuts through its hide. Salwa screams.

there are schoolhouses; and laughing babies; and teenagers that are not stoned.

The broken wire and the new bear’s path collide; it seizes that unslender thread; the tension of the wire unbalances the gaunt and its heel point does not kill.

Shadow falls over the gaunt’s face. The first small bear comes down. A piece of the gaunt’s own nail scores deep into its eye.

there is news from Iraq that we hear not of.

Salwa’s heart is full of the courage of the bears; but it will go unremarked, she knows.

There are things from Iraq that are never reported, and of such like as this.

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Categories: Hitherby, Legends