Books & Apples

“Dreams? They are mirrors which nothing but poetry and art can be compared to. They reflect the colour and rhetoric of the image more sensitively than sheets of aluminium or mercury-painted glass or any supersonic-ray detection apparatus can. Transparent dreams may detect uneasiness, ideas, hallucinations, desires… and even dreams themselves.”

These accumulated books tantalize me, and charge me up with alphabetical astonishment. They take away my senses; they fill them with new forces before restoring them to me, so full of new energy I feel ready to explode. The long-tentacled titles of the books stretch out towards me, increasing my desire to read, to devour their words.

I take a novel from the shelf. I leaf through all its pages. I glance at its price on the back cover. I count my small monthly allowance which I spend on sports-club expenses, light clothes for the coming summer, a pair of sun-glasses, a rich-in-protection vitamin and strawberry-flavoured lipstick, a skin-refreshing cream, taxi and bus expenses, mobile-phone recharging cards and fat-free chocolate. What remains barely allows me to get two cultural periodicals that I am very keen on reading, a newly-published collection of short stories and a copy of Top Santé magazine.

I put the novel back on the shelf where it belongs.

I move along the shelves and pick up another novel. Before opening it, I notice a brown young man approaching to ask me whether I work in this bookshop, as he is in need of help. I smile and tell him that I am just a customer. He apologizes and tells me that he always sees me in this bookstore, putting down a book and taking another.

I am like a butterfly who cannot afford the price of the dewdrops. Dear stranger, are you another book for me to open?

When I enter the world of books, when I enter the bookstore, everyone around me departs and I am there when Earnest Hemingway shoots himself with a shotgun, when Mohamed Choukri sits on a Jewish woman’s grave to write his autobiography, and when Mahmoud Darwish presses his knee down onto a knife’s edge to see if it really cuts, and if the wound really hurts.

This brown young man has such a warm voice. I see the bookseller wrapping up a set of books for him in a white, transparent wrapping-paper. She is also wrapping up her lips for him in a smile. I see him holding the books with his right hand and getting ready to join the passers-by in the street outside. The street is crowded. The evening is coming down slow and thick. People’s movements appear to slow, as if they are walking through thick evening light. Only the arm of the brown man embracing the books is strong.

He stops at the fruit vendor’s where an assortment of coloured fruits is carefully arranged in the shape of pyramids.

My stranger selects some red apples, which the vendor hands him is a plastic bag in exchange for some coins. He takes the bag of apples, carries it on his way, now slowing down as he walks away in the street, drowning in the crowd.


My evening’s pillow is so smooth that I usually sleep peacefully with the dim lights, the cool colours of my room, the flavour of the night cosmetics sending a fragrance from my cheeks, my lips, my fingers...

At dawn, the door to my dream opens. There is that brown young man who I saw in the bookshop. He smiles and gives me the books I saw him buy. Then he goes to the kitchen refrigerator, and I ask him to bring me an apple.

I tear the white transparent wrapping paper of the books, the titles fly out and sink into my pores. The young man, who is no longer a stranger, gives me the apple that I am waiting for. The bookseller appears, laughing to herself and to me. I turn my back to her, but her laugh rings in my ears. I reach out to the bedside table and stop the alarm-clock from ringing.



The writer, Khadija El Younoussi, is a Moroccan short-story writer, born in 1976. She is preparing for publication a collection of short stories titled “Sperm-Flies”.

The translator, Mohamed Said Raihani, is a Moroccan translator, scholar & shortstory writer, born on December 23rd 1968 in Ksar El Kébir. He published in Arabic "The Singularity Will " (Semiotic Study on First-names) 2001, "Waiting For the Morning" (Short stories) 2003, "Thus Spoke Santa Lugar-Verde" (Short stories) 2005, "The Season Of Migration to Anywhere" (Short stories) 2006. He is preparing for publication "Beyond Writing & Reading " (Testimonies), and Kais & Juliet (an E-Love Novel) .

"Books and Apples" is the tenth narrative text in the "The Moroccan Dream", An Anthology of Moroccan new short story directed by Mohamed Said Raihani.