Where Ideas Grow

A blog for students of creative writing at York St John University

a trip to the mall

you go to the mall

you must go to the mall

buy a birthday present for your mom before you fly back home

maybe you havent been paying attention to the news but there are security checks everywhere

big fat portly guards checking ids

your friend goes through because his id checks out

your passport they take a while on

put it in a pile with a dozen other colourful nationalities and tell you to sit down with all the other coloureds and expats and aliens

the mall is big but near empty

you sit on a bench with the rest by the dysfunctional water fountain

your friend goes ahead to get a head start on the gift search

he knows about this stuff better than you

everyone knows everything better than you

hes gone for a while

and then you feel it first before you hear it

the floor quakes and shivers beneath your feet and then


its good youre sitting down

the guards with their imbalances in weight stumble as the ground see-saws under them but then they catch their footing

they herd and tell all of you to hike it into the elevator

the request doesnt come off as questionable in the moment but in hindsight you think why not the stairs

its a big elevator and they jam you all in there then the doors shut

you feel it going down

the whimpers and murmurs of foreigners in distress

then the elevator goes down down and the whimpers turn into high-pitched screams of terror

the floor gives in from underneath you and you all go feet first down a slide of dirt and fossils and gravel

someones feet are pushing on your shoulders and face while you know youre doing the same to someone else

you all then land in a pile of bodies in some cavernous area

you dont know how you extract yourself out alive or without suffocating but you do

the cries of hysterical women and shocked silence of men still continue

its a mine

there are flatbeds on train tracks

enough to fit everyone in but there is still pushing and hair pulling 

you are not afraid to join the fray

be one of the first people on

one other brown guy next to you tells you to calm down and you ignore him but you think he is right

he tells someone down the line to pull the lever

he seems to know how these things work

you all hear a loud clanking sound then a snap and the trams jolt and begin to move

screech of wheels on rusted train lines

all of you hold on to whatever you can whether its the sides or the rails or each other

the wails have subsided to whimpers and sniffing again after someone tells the car to shut up

then there is a united held breath as the carriages recede out from the cave to the stark chill of night

the horizon is emblazoned by fire and light

it shines on all your stupid faces

you come out miles from the mall but you still see it under fire

helicopters and fighter jets pass by overhead

each spraying blinding flares of hellfire upon the building to raze it to the ground

you all can do nothing but stare in awe

you dont know how long the ride is till you make it to some sort of dock with shipping containers massed on top of each other

but it seems safe

there are people everywhere

young virile people 

you can tell by the way they embrace dance make out and sway in drunken stupors

you see purple and pink lights come from the doors of some containers along with dance music

proximity alone gets you hot and bothered and feeling drunk

you all get off the rail car

you wander about like dumb chickens

you look for the guy you were with on the car but hes gone

you will never see him again

instead you find your friend

looking safe and untouched and the same

youd forgotten about him but youre glad hes not dead

hes on his phone surrounded by a group of other people on their phones

he sees you

you hug

he shows you a picture of a girl on instagram

theyre there in the shop

making out

he asks what do you think

you say shes alright

pretty ugly though

that same asian girl looks up at you from her phone

you didnt realize she was there

you dont feel guilty

you walk away

feeling there is someone you have to call but dont know who

not your mom she wouldve told you i told you so

someone else

you sift through your contacts

accidentally hit call on a chick youve never talked to

hang up immediately and hope that never shows up on her feed

who did you want to call

you could use someone close

still on good terms

you hit the phone button

ringing and ringing

when you hear the swears on the other line you dont know what to think

theyre calling you names

terrible names

it takes you a moment to see that you actually called the boyz

how that happened you dont know

theyre asking where you are you asshole why dont you call where have you been

your friend then comes along and hijacks the call

which is good

youre too exhausted and destabilized to deal with them just now

you walk off and find a mirror on a wall somewhere and see you look like shit

covered in dust and your face is bleeding

bleeding from where exactly you dont know so you try to wipe it away but there is too much

you think on who you wanted to call but you dont remember

why cant you remember

then you wake up and you are in bed 

safe but still scared

who did you want to call

Hashim AlHamar

Hashim AlHamar is a writer from Kuwait. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Kingston University and is currently undertaking a PhD in the same field at York St. John University.

Image by Ion Fet on UnSplash

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