Lady in the headscarf (Short Story)
This was the first time he saw one like her. A lady with a scarf over her head, covered like an emblematic dress, all too similar to newspaper front pages. Another alien trying to cover her tracks waddling down his street. An oppressor opposed to freedom. Deviant. Why was she here? What was she really hiding in those shopping bags?
He was not a racist. He loved what he thought he knew about his country, his society, about his own. The tattoo of a patriot emblazed in dwindled grey on his large left arm. The country flag – it was an embodiment of the commitment to the land that raised him and the freedoms it gifted.
It pained him to see a changing demographic over forty years and be a mere spectator as settlers unsettled him. Why would people be in his backyard and behave or dress in such a peculiar way? Though this was his first interaction with a lady in a scarf like this, the warning signs taught him well. His body was now equal parts Guinness and blood. Riled by talks and protests – alcohol gave him a fearlessness that his sober self was afraid of.
His knife in his pocket shielded, the sweat on his brow a reminder of the intensity of the reality of his intentions. Yet the vision of himself as a hero – a defender of the soil overshadowed potential inhibitions. He had no doubt that she was one of the villains. Chaotically, the intoxicants let the knife out of the pocket. He ran, swaying recklessly and drunkenly in her direction, teeth clenched, pupils dilated. He was to reclaim the county that was being taken inch by inch from beneath his feet.
Yet it was too late. As he ran haphazardly across the road, the car could not brake in time. He should have died, and the next beeps were significantly quieter but more urgent – from the heart monitor on the hospital bed by his side.
It was the week following the incident where Aidan had first made signs of awakening from his coma. Wincing as his body interrupted his gradual recovery to hurriedly remind him of the pain and injuries faster than his mind was ready for. More helpless than ever before, slowly, pieces of memory were being fired through his neurons.
The blurs started to be shaped to clarity as consciousness re-established itself. Astonished, he looked around. Ironic how he was now under the mercy of blades in an operating theatre far kinder than that which he carried days before. All around him, his enemies – people of colours, orientations and origins that once seemed so threatening had saved the mans life. Yet finally, the real hero, with her covered hair now looking a halo in the light where for decades thought to be the cloth that suffocated her. Yet surely it wasn’t….
Surely it wasn’t her? The lady carrying the shopping bags, the lady with the scarf, appearing before him. A doctor?! HIS doctor? The situation would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Maybe, Aiden thought to himself, that for all these years he misunderstood the tattoo on his arm, as it seemed to stare at him in judgement. Maybe, it would take time to learn what he needed to unlearn in himself.
And maybe, just maybe…he was more an alien to himself than the lady in the scarf ever was.