The wind and dust of Afghanistan brings dreams of life and kindness
| The waiter sets down a plate of garnishes: lime wedges, beansprouts, basil and jalapeno slices. I reach out and pick up a beansprout and crunch it between my teeth, savoring the burst of cool crisp flavor that washes away the dryness in my mouth. A woman is talking about some detail of her day and I just tune it out while I enjoy the taste. She says something else and I look up and focus on her. She sits across the table from me, with a face as fresh as a newly minted coin, and her hair as black as a crow's wing and all I want in life at that instant is to run my hands through her hair and feel it's softness.
She repeats herself, I know it is important but all I hear is white noise while she talks. I try to focus but all I can sense are the small details around me. Her hair where it falls past her neck and over her shoulder, the shape of her lips as she speaks, the sound of utensils in the hands of patrons I cannot see, and the taste of the beansprout, refreshing and sweet, a flavor I have not tasted in so long.
Time is odd here. A single perfect moment, sitting in this restaurant with the girl of my dreams and the taste of that beansprout on my tongue that stretches on for a lifetime, but ends in the amount of time it takes to go from sleeping to waking. I want to trap that moment. To stay there the rest of my life but I know it will end, has to end, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
She says something else, low and sad. I can't understand and all I want is to reach out for her hand where it sits on the table, her graceful fingers brushing at an imaginary spot of dust. I want to comfort her. To tell her everything will be alright. To tell her I am there and that I love her. But I can't.
Instead, I reach out and pick up a beansprout and crunch it between my teeth, but instead of the burst of cool crisp flavor I expect, I can taste only the dust of a harsh and lonely country, far from everything I know.