She encountered few people. The park that sat barren seemed no more occupied than any of the streets Delilah had just walked. A fountain stagnated. Not with water. A continuous stream of dry unyielding air, seeping through each crack, sucked out the moisture of the now uncovered stones. The base of the fountains inner tub was stained a deep cloudy grey without the promise of rain and the pipes that were to lead water had turned green and fuzz with calcification. The electrical pump had been turned off. A lizard, the only sign of life, did sit lazily absorbing the sun.

As she walked into the brown spot of the park surrounding the fountain, she saw a small tan lizard, its scaly texture standing out against smooth stone of the fountain’s outer lip and she stopped to look more closely at the little thing. Every few seconds its claws would stretch out and curl back inward as if flexing with ecstasy It made Deliilah smile to see at least something was enjoying the stark burn of the sun.

Her head leaned to the side as she stared, momentarily blocking the lizard from the sun and it slid it’s lids horizontally open as it awakened from the sweet warm dream. It blinked swiftly a few times at the unknown colossus of Delilah’s head before slinking backwards and skittering away with a hiss back into the broken fountain.

Unbending slowly from her observation Delilah was able to look up and see a small group walking across the street. She blinked in surprise, almost exactly as the lizard had done and gazed stupidly.
It was a line of young boys, eleven or twelve in age at most. No guardian or adult led or followed them, but they still walked in a perfectly straight line as if with scholarly obedience. Each one carried a large bound book under one arm. On their backs, were the pale blue robes of the madrasa. As they passed they became aware of her, watching them, her unadorned head standing out against vague colors of the park.

Delilah could feel their eyes on her.  Some of the pupils passed over her with quick appraisal while willing her non-existance. As they looked they willed themselves to experience her as unimpressionable and secretly hoping to not to see the softness of her hair, the curve of her bright lips in their dreams. Others glanced quickly as if certain her face could turn them into stone. A few, a very few stared openly and with aggression, their eyes boring into her sockets, her mouth, her nostrils even with a certainty in her deliberate affront to their honorable principles.

Delilah watched them pass with deep sympathy. Poor boys, she thought, to be so intimidated by a woman. Shaking her head she backed away down the brown lawn of the park and into the flapping white tents of the market down the next street.


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