The Inktober prompts that inspired this piece were disgusting, slippery, dune, armor, outpost, rocket and storm.
You would think getting caught in a sandstorm on a date would make it the worst date I’ve ever been on.
But I’ve been on some pretty bad dates.
This particular date didn’t start out that bad. He was boring but in an endearing sort of way that made me willing to listen to him blabber on. I was doing an internship in Kuwait that semester and we had met at work. His work seemed to be his life. Personally, the first two weeks of this internship had made me want to switch fields. We were taking a walk and he was talking about financial management and I was thinking about taking a poetry course when I got back to the States when suddenly he grabbed my arm and said, “Do you have a scarf or something with you?”
It’s Kuwait and I didn’t want to look like a total tourist so yes, I had a scarf on hand at all times. I was about to ask him why he cares when he pointed behind me. Turning around, I saw brown clouds rolling toward us, enveloping everything in their path. It was like watching CGI in real life, and for a moment, I thought that I was about to be cursed by the Evil Queen or something.
He pulled out a canteen and asked for my scarf. I obliged and he poured out some of the precious water over the silk.
“Wrap it around your head and cover your mouth and nose,” he told me.
I followed his instructions. The slippery fabric clung to my face and smelled like sweat. It felt more like a second-skin than armor. I didn’t have much time to think about how disgusting it was, though, because he had my hand and was dragging me toward the nearest building. I stumbled after him as everyone around also scrambled toward shelter. Our chosen outpost turned out to be a bank. I noticed a cookie table in the corner. Silver linings for every type of cloud, it seemed, even sandy ones.
Suddenly, day became night. Everything was tinted a burnt orange color. I found myself holding his hand, even though he was boring, even though I didn’t anticipate a second date. If I changed my major, I wouldn’t need to finish this internship. I thought about all the other places I could be — reading poetry in New York City, boarding a rocket in Ukraine, studying ancient religion in Peru. Anywhere that wasn’t a desert. I was quite certain at that moment that I would never again entertain the idea of living in a desert.
Of course, three years later, here I am, teaching English to children in Kuwait. I go home at night to the boring man who saved me from my first sandstorm. We share a home, three children, and a hedgehog now. Quite to my surprise, he got a lot less boring during that sandstorm. He grabbed cookies for us and sat me down and told me about his grandfather teaching him what to do in a sandstorm. He told me why he was in finance and listened to why I didn’t want to stay in it. He agreed that I was meant for other things. When suspicion crept onto my face in response to that comment, he amended it: “Better things. Things that make use of the light inside you.”
When he proposed, he called me a light that not even a sandstorm’s darkness could snuff out. I mean, how could I say no to that?