Joseph Pfister

Khan Younis

In my city, boys can fly. This is what Ameer tells me. They climb fire escapes, trash heaps, aqueducts, and cell phone towers, jumping into the hazy afternoon. Ameer also told me that if your hand is bigger than your face, you have cancer. He won’t tell me where he and the other boys go when they leave the ground and disappear beyond the layer of smog that permanently blankets the city.

 

Ameer says that one day he and all the other boys will float away and they won’t come back. He can feel himself changing. In no time, he’ll be lighter than air. I tie a string to Ameer’s ankle while he sleeps. When I wake in the morning, he’s suspended above our bed, like a weather balloon.

 

At night, I dream I can fly, too. I sail above our city—acres of yellow and orange lights buffeted by a blue expanse of ocean. I want to tell Mama about my dreams, and Ameer floating away, but she’s too busy. Tonight, after I tether Ameer’s ankle to the bedpost, I slip out to the bathroom on the landing and cover my face with my hand.