The bougainvillea wasn’t as red as it should have been, but it flowered. The ironwork gate creaked a little, but there was birdsong in the garden. The hybrid teas were plagued with summer greenfly, but for the most part they bloomed. The olive trees in the back were slightly stunted, but the olives didn’t seem to mind. The terra-cotta roof tiles cracked in the heat, but the house never let the rain in. The children took a broom to the beehive in the vestibule outside the front door, but they never got stung. The brass-plated numbers on the door were hung a little haphazardly because the handyman didn’t wear eyeglasses, but Ahmed was an old family friend and we didn’t want to embarrass him. The baby carriage was a bit tattered, but we used it as an antique flowerpot in the sunroom. The doormat was woven with cheap fibers that tore when the ledge of the door swung open, but Dalia liked the shape and the style. The large vase on the credenza was glued together after one of my fits—when things began to fracture—but the dried flowers we kept in it were still pleasing to look at. The crown molding in the living room wasn’t perfectly straight, but the height of the ceiling made up for it. The painting along the western wall was hung in a frame that always seemed crooked, but we loved the summer seascape at Latakia. The candelabra was one light bulb short, but it cast a gentle glow over the painting. The bookshelves were a little lopsided, but they were happy to hold all of Dalia’s endless tomes—philosophy, anatomy, physiology, math. The office wall was spider-cracked, but we covered it with our university citations. (I must admit my solitary law degree from Damascus hung, a touch abashed, alongside her three.) The drawers in the desk sometimes stuck on their rails, but we could always fish the crumpled envelopes out. The inkpot stained the mahogany, but we liked the patina. The door swelled whenever there was a rain, but with a good push you could still lock it shut. Tiny nailheads appeared in the floorboards over the years, but the worst of it was that we ripped our stockings as we walked across. (Even now, I can close my eyes and see Dalia’s slow, tall saunter, crossing the room, sometimes with Areen in her arms, sometimes with Mahmoud, often alone, late at night, with a book.) The piano keys were slightly off-color, but it didn’t affect the timbre of the music, sometimes we played like we were still in Allepo. The faucet in the kitchen leaked, but we began to like the sound of the dripping. The grandfather clock didn’t tick anymore, but the drip replaced it. The refrigerator hummed loudly, but it was comforting enough in the night, we even began to miss it when the blackouts cleaved the sky.
To read the rest of this story, and others from the Summer 2018 issue, please purchase a copy from our online store.