It’s been months now, and I see her every day. Watching me. Waiting until I am around the corner so that it is safe. But today I don’t make the turn. Today I lay in wait. When I see her dash for the glass, I race back to catch her in the act.
“And how did you learn English so well?”
I turned to leave. What good would come speaking to a rude Arabian child? But then she spoke again, her voice dropping in humble tenor. “May I ask you a question?”
Fatima said that all her life she had been searching for the Valley of Diamonds. Her mother had read the story in the Arabian Nights, from Scheherazade’s 549th night with the great Sultan, which if he didn’t like the story he would cut off her head at dawn… the tale told of Sinbad, the great sailor, who on his second voyage lost his crew and was abandoned on a island inhabited by giant birds… Rochs, they are called… who feed upon snakes big enough to swallow elephants, and who guard a treasure of a million shinning diamonds on the valley floor.
“I know the story child,” I said. “Go on.”
Fatima nodded and said then that I must know how Sinbad tied himself to a Roch and stole the diamonds and returned to Baghdad a rich man. She loved this story so much, she asked her mother if it were true, and her mother said, “Go find the valley for yourself.” So Fatima came outside to look, but no diamonds could be found.
“How did you know it was a diamond?”