Story written by Saad El-Asha on Tuesday 18, September 2018

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A boy and his dog.

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For Maimoun, the most horrible of all oxymora was the Noble Savage. He wasn't much of a thinker to contain the epistemological content of the term, and he wasn't, in the least, a sophomore; in fact, he'd never known why he hated it. But certainly he knew enough why he hated that of his name. Maimoun, meaning "one who is lucky; fortunate" in Arabic, caused him bitterness, bearing in mind the facile repulsion to one's name. It was rarely used in his country, Libya. Most strangers mistook him for a Syrian, sometimes a Palestinian. For them it sounded Levantine. He approached the matter apathetically. Two years had passed since he moved with his mother to the farmlands of Algreqh, only few months away from starting his college years, to live in his grandfather's household. One summer he had a dog. He'd always been a cat person, and the 'possession' of a dog only came coincidentally. Most teenagers in Algreqh had dogs to bolster a masculine persona or, simply, because their families had them to attend the sheep. Indigenous breed was undesired and considered inferior to German Shepherds, which always epitomized that form of 'toughness'. Maimoun's was a Libyan dog. The dog was never named, but started to gain Maimoun's affection. Within the two years, Maimoun spent few moments with the dog before heading to the city, sometimes he brought her along, crouched in the back seat of his car when visiting friends. The dog wasn't favored by his friends for her "coldness"; an expression usually used, referring to the lack of aggression in any dog. Despite her verve and distinguished barking, she was expected to frighten strangers. One day the dog's bark metamorphosed into a loud shrill, scarcely used but ubiquitous. The long stretches of silence, happening particularly at their matutinal meetings, and her shy refusals of accompanying him on foot or in the car, struck Maimoun as indicative of pregnancy. Although, at night, she was usually chained in the empty barn few meters off the building, there was a possibility of meeting a dog, walking his way from off the adjacent farms. A week passed and nothing changed. She must be having an existential crisis, he thought, not similar to one experienced by a traveling camel or a horse, but a new one, unexamined and almost sensational. Had he got his traumatized cat, he would've jokingly drawn an effigy from Bulgakov's Behemoth. Slightly disoriented and at a loss, Maimoun did nothing and deemed this phenomenon superior to his intellect and sensibilities. Gradually, Maimoun found himself in an undefined phase, when he partially unveiled a chopped narrative of what had happened. A moment in particular, his stress, increased by a paper-cup of sugarless espresso and video games, made him forgetful and he began aging quickly. Starting from constant rebuttals to his own rationalizations, and finishing with his loss of words, Maimoun gave the dog away. For him she was an abstraction, the beginning of a certain phobia that had yet to engulf him. Against his will, he wound up personifying the man he'd always detested, forcibly superficial with a touch of self-parody, and a prelude of these sequential phobias witnessed nothing unusual. The abrupt separation from her stemmed partially from a primordial desire; he had no intention to objectify his adamant youth in her; nothing compelled him to follow her autobiography, as he saw others moving away from his. In his mind this would always signify a failure to make anything out of her; what they meant for each others, her silences and her barks.

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    Clever story. You have had experience with dogs, I suspect.
    No, actually. I'm a cat person.