Telepathy by Amir Tag Elsir

Book: Telepathy by Amir Tag Elsir Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amir Tag Elsir
with a local newspaper, because I had scheduled a long interview with him for today about my detestable novel
Hunger’s Hopes
. I had stood him up. I doubted that I would keep any future appointments concerning that novel.
    Najma had also texted me and wanted me to call her the moment I received her message. She had not, however, mentioned why she was contacting me. She had left that vague. The message that most gripped me, though, was from Linda, the daughter of Abd al-Qawi the Shadow – or the Shadow’s shadow, as I thought of her. Linda was a strange girl. I had never seen her in person, although I had been in her father’s residence dozens of times over a period of many years, even before she was born. I had never seen her at a lecture, cultural event, performance of one of her father’s plays, or in the market or a gloomy or brilliant alley anywhere in the world. When her name came up or she was mentioned in passing, the Shadow spoke of her proudly. He was the one who had given her my cell number which she had used to forge a strong telephone friendship with me.She shared with me opinions she had formed about works she read by many different writers and about all my works, which she said she enjoyed reading. She also discussed her own projects, which included a novel she called
Two Wheels and Body Parts
. She had been busy writing this for the past two years, and eventually it would be published. She had not told me what her novel was about, and I had never asked. I repeatedly invited her to the lectures I gave or to parties I was attending, but she had always declined without offering a convincing reason.
    Her voice on the telephone was quite distinctive. It was the voice of a girl dreaming or discussing the remnants of a dream she was clinging to, hoping it wouldn’t escape. Some sentences were fresh and succulent. Half her words were clear and half somewhat hard to grasp. There was a delicate breathiness to her speech, and the hint of a laugh resonated through it from time to time.
    In fact, Linda the Shadow had frequently whetted my imagination. I had attempted to picture her, based on what I knew about her. I had come up with a mental portrait of her as a girl of twenty or thereabouts, slender, with lively eyes, soft skin, and full, black hair trimmed with colorful ribbons. Her head swayed gently when she walked. I felt an odd curiosity to verify my portrait and said to the Shadow one evening when we sat in his house, trying to make my words seem innocent and unpremeditated, “Master, Linda is a cultural icon. She reads everything I write and offers me her frank opinion even about works by other authors. Why doesn’t she participate inour cultural activities or at least come occassionally to sit with us and join our conversations?’
    I noticed his expression changed slightly, as if he had not liked what he heard or had indigestion. Then he replied, “What a lovely idea, Writer! Linda actually is a perceptive scholar. Her problem is that she cannot handle other people.”
    Then his narrow eyes drilled into my face, and he added, “It should suffice for her to converse with you by phone. Isn’t that so? You know what she thinks of your works and of ones by other authors. I don’t think you want to marry her – isn’t that so?”
    Thinking that I had caused trouble by asking about Linda, I moved our conversation in a direction that I knew the Shadow would relish enough to erase any problem or discomfort. I started discussing his play
A Day in the Lantimaru Garden
, which was a brilliant dramatic fantasy about an imaginary day spent with a dinosaur in a garden called Lantimaru, somewhere beyond the Earth’s sphere.
    I mentioned that Linda’s message had attracted my feverish attention. Long and eloquently phrased, it discussed
Hunger’s Hopes
, which she had just finished reading, in a delightful fashion. She asked me about the ending:

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