The man sits protected beneath a blue leaf-clogged awning, awakened moments ago by rainfall unlike anything he’d experienced. His breath fogs as it goes.
He sits, ageless chiseled limestone, hands decorated by canyons of scars and wrinkles, the third and fourth fingers of his right hand missing. The assault of rain on plastic a metronome, tinny and precise, in rhythm with the pulsing of his heart.
He sits and with one blind eye watches raucous children play an unfamiliar sport, giggling as they toss an oblong ball wobbly through the damp air and scrape knees and elbows on oil-slicked asphalt.
A dozen time zones from the village he’d spent his youth and raised and buried his family the man sits on this second floor balcony of his hosts’ home with ivy grown greener than anything he’d known, the porch bigger than the rusted metal container that stowed him and 17 others during their voyage across the seas, away from famine and violence and desert storms; biblical monstrosities.
In the brandless clothing he’s always worn the man sits as a member of his enemies’ tribe frowns rolling to the curb a large black bin overflowing with colorful paper wrappings and shredded plastic packaging and heaps of unwanted food as red and green and white lights twinkle star-like around his home and yard; ignoring the kids, shoulders stooped from years of labor, years of growing old before arriving in this Eden.
The man sits as his host with his thick Boston accent and his French-Algerian wife offers a plate of cuts of bread and meat and cheeses which the man declines with a nod, embarrassed, understanding not a single word as the host says goodday and smiles and sets the plate on a colorful tray within arm’s reach.
As the steam from his cup of tea is lost, the man sits.
Bible-thick, the book in his lap was gifted to him with an enthusiastic hug from his hosts’ adopted daughter—Sudanese and like himself a political refugee—the massive tome, written in his native tongue, describes a history of the world so different from the truth he knows to be; how the earth is not a sprawl of immense landmasses dispersed between sea and ocean and sky created by the Almighty but instead simply once a massive and unified world, so enormous and all-encompassing and ever-changing, formed by unfathomable cosmic luck, populated by a single group of people who like this earth have over time drifted and mutated and grown apart.
While children play and a young couple embrace beneath an umbrella and walk their German Sheppard over smooth sidewalks and around flawless Japanese and European cars the man sits, succumbed to the terror and the excitement of this new world and these new thoughts and he is filled with warmth from the knowledge of the undeniable existence of God.