Chorus [from The Glass House of Forgetting]

We never knew what to make of the couple. They weren’t like us at all—their skin color, their features, hair, attire, demeanors. They seemed fake, frankly. Always smiling and the woman—always trying to eavesdrop and speak Arabic.

And that House of Forgetting of theirs—so open and exposed. Yes, we spied on them—every chance we had. With binoculars from a distance as if we were watching for fishing boats, their boat to transport their guests, sea birds, or falcons.

They must have been very rich to afford a house like that. We doubted that their guests paid enough to maintain that glass box of many windows. They were making money in our country, nonetheless, and had more money than any of us.

They only cared about Westerners—though they tried to befriend a handful of us. The old woman in the souk liked the wife—probably because she spent so much money on herbs and oils for their white witchcraft. They killed their daughter, the woman who could not remember anything, and the oldest man of our village. Those deeds could not go unpunished.

And their lighthouse keeper. He was aloof. Not one of us—and not one of them. There was something cagey about him. Some kind of trouble he had caused—a tortured soul, it seemed to all of us.

We were happy to see them go. Were we responsible? We thought so.

We ransacked their bed and breakfast to see what they had left—perhaps money, their rich possessions, and maybe items from their white magic.

We didn’t know about the book in the safe until much later—when everything would be exposed—just like their house. Some of us, in all honesty, prayed for them. They had supposedly helped many people to forget the suffering involved in being human. It didn’t seem fair that some people’s fate brought them more pain than others.

The piercing cries of the cello left behind would haunt us for years. Would we miss them? We would miss our camaraderie when speaking about them. The us against them. They made us cohesive somehow—Berbers and Muslims alike.

When called to prayer, we would think of them and wonder where they were—if they were still alive. They had aged the last few years. And the woman of the house was starting to forget where she lived and who she was, it seemed.

They were gentle people, in the end. It is a shame they couldn’t stay. We couldn’t let them. It was fate, we believed. They had lived amongst us, keeping to themselves, long enough.

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