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'Tell me about your life before the war', I said.

'I was covered in a thick rubbery skin, like an elephant's skin. I always wanted more and when I got what I wanted, I quickly became disillusioned with it...' His voice made it easier for me to keep on walking.

'Did you own a car?' I wanted details, I was fourteen.

'Yes. A red Porsche'.


'A fast car'.

'And what was it like, driving in your fast car?'

'Powerful, fun'. He suddenly stopped walking and I bumped into him. 'But I didn't feel the loneliness because I was coated with that rubber skin'.

I looked up at the sky. Two angels were deep in conversation. Their light made me blink. We kept on climbing.

'How many wives did you have?'

'One. Most men had one wife in the old days'.

'Is she with you now?'

'She died before the war. From cancer'.

'What is cancer?'

'One of the diseases of the past'.

It started to rain. Soft light rain, large flat drops. The rocks began to give thanks, the trees swayed. We slowed down. I stuck my tongue out and tasted rose water. He tipped his head back and tasted aniseed. He took off his turban and let the rain into his hair. His beard became wet. We laughed together.

'Am I your youngest wife?'

'Yes', his voice as if my question had been irrelevant.

'Why did you not consummate this marriage?'

'You're not ready yet'. He stopped smiling and held my hand again. We climbed. We climbed for miles. The muscles in my legs burned. My eyes were dry from the wind.

I said, 'Carry me', he said nothing. I said, 'Carry me', he said nothing. I said, 'I haven't eaten all day, I'm hungry'.

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