“Good Morning Khalil”

Michaella Sabagh

    You might be wondering why I still do this; why I choose to make myself suffer by never quitting this tedious job. Reader, I know you’ve seen me before; my face is not an unfamiliar one. Think back to the last time you were wandering around Hamra: this busy, and in odd ways, youthful street. I’m sure you’ve seen me and have wondered, more than once, about the usefulness of my existence; how it benefits you and the rest of the passing population, wearing my dingy suit and an oh so fake Hollywood smile plastered on my face. I know this job is useless, handing perfumed pieces of cardboards to every passerby and having to deal with the glares, the muffled laughter, and the attitude of each one of them because why would they just simply accept it and move on with their day? In this country, you do what you must to survive, and for me, it’s this job with strangely, a good enough pay.

This job was never mine to begin with. I’ve been working here for nearly two years, but I hate to think of myself as an employee here because that means erasing his existence, admitting to my lack of hope in what the future will bring concerning his life, my brother’s life, Khalil’s life, that was put on hold one sunny August evening. My memory of that day is still blurred; all I could remember is my mother’s wailing and blood, so much blood it could fill the current void in my heart, trickling down his head. A heartbeat so faint, I failed to acknowledge it at first. Crimson flames and the smell of smoke that will forever dominate my mind at the mention of this ominous month.

He’s been in a coma since that day, August 4, 2020. The medical bills keep piling up; these merciless doctors have never given us a break, and it’s up to me, my mother, and my sister to handle them. This job already consumes 14 hours of my day, while my sister and my mother have two jobs each. On top of this choking workload, my mother has to tend to the day-to-day needs of the house while my sister has to balance her life with her two infants and her work. We’re barely able to cover the monthly expenses of his machines, but it’s being done; it’s being paid.

I lose myself in this job at times, it makes me reminisce my brother’s life before that ash-filled day, how his feet would ache after each shift, the blazing sun never failing to worsen his day. I wish to feel that anguish now, to live his suffering, to experience each horrid moment that comes with this job. I fear the day I will completely drown myself in this; the day I will become completely emerged in this role I have taken on. I miss him; the grief that fills my heart is enormous. This is my coping mechanism: I wear his suit and use his hair gel. I adapted his mannerism; started exercising to match his weight. I visit his most adored pub every Friday at 6:15pm, order his favorite drink, a whiskey on ice, sipping on it like he used to, slowly and delicately. I know I’ve said admitting my employment would be erasing his existence, but becoming him is my way of missing him. 

Today I walked into work at the exact same time, in the same suit, ready to relive the exact same day. I walk into work with his signature smile on my face, ready to be greeted by my coworkers, “Good morning Khalil.”

Inspired by a creative writing activity from workshop 5.