She appears and disappears, only to reappear again. I see her leaning into a taxi, elbows on the window frame, in conversation with the driver. I see her on Bliss Street, sitting on that mauve suitcase, cigarette trembling between her knobby knuckles. A few days may pass, but she is omnipresent.
I see her.
Last night she called me with, she said, good news. Her husband, Richard, is here in Lebanon. She needs a place to stay until Tuesday, when he will come for her.
-Why doesn't he get you now? Why don't you stay at his hotel?
"The Maronites make trouble for me. They tell me he's not there. I use his secret name, he has two, I use both. They make so much troubles for me."
-Ahh. The Maronites.
"Can you help me?" This is her way of asking if she can stay in my apartment. It's not the first time she's asked. It's not the first time I'll say no.
-Uhh...sorry...I'm not at home. I won't be home for awhile.
This is technically the truth.
"For two days you will be gone."
-Uhh...yeah. Sorry. If he calls I'll leave a note or something.
What have I been thrown into? Why does this woman, Mariame, keep haunting me? Surely I am not the only person she can turn to. She *lives* here! She speaks Arabic! And French! And English! Surely, she can enlist others to support her?
Unless she's mad. It certainly seems like she has some delusions. That, or this is the world's *worst* Bad Plan to swindle an Amreekan tourist out of some money that anyone, anywhere has ever dreamed up. It really is a terrible plan.
Maybe I'm being tested? Lebanon? Beirut, are you testing me? The land where Jesus turned water into wine, are you trying to see how many times I'll deny an old woman seeking refuge?
Of all the possibilities above, the probability that she is ill and needs support from a professional seems most likely.
I turn off the main light in my apartment and retire to the bathroom. I shut the door, turn on the light and read on the floor. It's the only way I can have light without being detected.
I know she's coming.