I'll share a short story I wrote.
The Red Algeria
by Hank Helvey
An influx of light and darkness emerged over me. I had dreamed of the red, ray-shined beach of Oran before I awoke. Rubbing my tired, red eyes I felt a sense of relief. It was almost like blue, crisp waves were hitting the still rocks on the beach, when I finally came to. The beach that rested outside of my boring town, and in my dreams, had been a constant companion of mine. It was so reoccurring in my life that it even found its place nestled in my unconscious mind. I feel the warmth of its sentiment. When I felt that warmth, although I could not fully grasp what it meant, I realized that the red beaches of Oran were something profound to me. There, at the beaches of Oran, I found senses of nostalgia and curiosity that I could not find anywhere else.
There was an air of mystery that surrounded what I felt towards that abode; I found that the feelings I witnessed where inexplicably indescribable. My thoughts of the waves convinced me, from the moment I felt the breeze sweep through my freshly opened window, to embark towards those red majesties. I heard the call of the wind, as it rushed past my shutters, making them flurry about. There is a beauty about the water, about the sand – as coarse and annoying as it is. There is simply something profound, something that cannot be said, but only felt.
I sat down on an oak chair near my window, listening to the call of the gulls. I had lived in Oran my entire life; witnessing its comings and goings, although as sad as some as the departures were, the incessant arrivals brought a certain charisma that lightened the atmosphere of my quiet, walled town. As a younger man, I had regularly found myself sitting in the red beaches, thinking. I observed happy young couples, and tried to express my frustration through the heat of the sun, in ink and words. The sense of nostalgia at those beaches was overbearing, yet always reinforcing to my soul.
I had found something that stimulated me, when I lay on my towel, underneath the presiding rays of light that cooked the entire desert-town. For some men, curiosity is spontaneous. For me, when I see the cool waves swallowing the sand, it is a catalyst for something in me – a thirst, a curiosity that is unrivaled anywhere else I go. Whenever I have been there, witnessing the rare and monumental depth of the sun rising, reflecting its image on the ever-moving streams of salt water, I have felt myself expand. I have felt my mind simply claw for more – more knowledge, more comfort, and more stimulation. Although they say that a stimulated mind is the opium of man, I say that despite man’s preconceived notions, everything is the opium of man.
“Raymond”, a voice called out from the street to me, and I awoke from my contemplation; I was on the second floor, sitting in clear sight at my window. The accented tender voice was immediately recognized by my ears. A sense of relief subtly nested in my heart like a Robin nesting in the midst of spring – the voice belonged to a woman named Maria. I heard her voice and processed her identity instantaneously, yet simultaneously, as her voice continued again. She asked me if I wanted to go to the movies, as the bustling morning-rush of citizens that colonized the streets of my quiet desert-town took place. I politely declined her offer; several weeks ago we had a passionate one night stand, and I had simply awoken in the morning in a panic. I had been avoiding her ever since, to my dismay.
I could hear a sense of sadness that enveloped the beauty of her voice, cutting the tone and volume in half – almost like her heart silently cried, in the moment her voice broke, as she said, “It is fine, Raymond. I hope I will see you soon.”
I bathed carefully and took my leave from my apartment. After journeying for twenty minutes I found myself at the red beach that lay precariously outside my Oran. The coarse, miniscule rocks that formed the beach dug into my feet. I felt their warmth; the sun was high, emitting fantastic red flames that baked the coincidentally red beach. I took my towel and laid it out evenly, before collapsing on it.
My thoughts raced, bouncing between what I knew and what I wanted to know. But, I found myself occupied by the entrancing warmth of the sun, that devilish pestilence, which cleansed the red Algerian beach that nestled the walls of this red city. I found a sense of relief as I felt the vibrations of the stream-lined tide crashing into the red, scorched beach. I found a sense of relief as I became a part of the beach itself, being cooked by the relentless flames that reached so far from the sun towards my figure. I grabbed the scorched sand and let it, like I was turning an hourglass, slip beyond my reach, and beyond my control. What was left in the palm of my hand, I clung to. I clung to my relief.
It never left me on that red Algerian beach. I closed my hand and made a fist, and laid it on my chest. I felt myself fall out of what I knew and what I wanted to know. For just as in Arabia the sands of time were gold, the sands of time were red in Oran - in my red Algeria.