The phone begins to ring.

He turns on the lights, closes the door behind him, and puts his bag down on the sofa, not moving. The phone rings and rings and rings, but he doesn’t answer it. Then it stops. He sits to pull off his heavy boots, removes his jacket and tosses it on the sofa, then leans back. The phone rings again, but he ignores it. Reaching over to his jacket he pulls out the card and reads it.

“Nidal al-Safadi, Journalist/Writer/Critic” and her phone number below, written by hand.

He then takes out the orange and holding it to his nose, sniffs deeply. So fresh, so juicy in his hands.

It has been a long and incredible day, one he will not likely forget.

Placing the orange on the table in front of him, he picks up his notepad and pen and begins to write.

“Dear Dad. Greetings from Damascus, Paradise on Earth! Today was an amazing day. I wish I had the time to tell you every detail. I’ll call soon. But there’s something important I need for you to do….”

Finishing the letter he crosses to the bedroom, throws off his clothes and collapses onto the bed, his arms folded behind his head on the pillow. He listens out the window but hears nothing but the faint, intermittent whine of a neighbor’s satellite dish tracking desire from the rooftop. A dog barks. The stars shine in the clear night sky. Across the city children dream of white tigers in green ribbons. An old guard stands nearly frozen in his boots, warming his hands in his pants while the barrel of his rifle leans into his stomach. A street lamp flickers a few times then turns off. A car rumbles past, trailing wisps of music. The wind gently rattles the window panes. David drifts off to sleep.

Another quiet wintry evening in Damascus.

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