Restaurants around Cairo prepared for the feast of Eid ul-Fitr. The traffic was bumper to bumper from Zamalek to Maadi. Donkey and camel carts were stuck in the smoky congestion. No origin and no destination. Just honking and yelling interrupted the idling of old engines. Young and old men, tired and hungry, walked the crowded sidewalks without getting very far. It was another twenty minutes before the end of Ramadan fasting. Automobiles and animals were at a standstill on bridges and at intersections. Policemen blew their whistles and gestured at the stationary traffic. In their best clothes, the women fanned themselves. The children cried. An ambulance flashed its lights and wailed at a standstill. An old woman pointed at it in alarm. The call to prayer fell over the city and its people.

Five teenagers arrested at quarter to two am at a checkpoint in Zamalek. Motor oil stained the pavement of the bridge. Cigarette butts blown about the bridge. The dryness in the air suffocated. The wood of the soldiers’ riffles was cracked. One of the teens was passing out drunk. Two soldiers helped him lay down on the grimy sidewalk. They tried to turn him onto his stomach but he rolled onto his back with his head pressed against a boot. The other four tried to steady themselves against the car as best they could. Finally the order to bring in the sick kid as well came in over the walkie-talkie. When they handcuffed them he was lying in his vomit with his hands on his face.

Eugenia Tsutsumi is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up between France, Switzerland, Brazil, and Egypt. She received her B.A. in comparative literature at Brown University and is currently an MFA candidate at George Mason University. Her fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in SNReview, Caketrain, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly, Writer’s Bloc (Rutger’s), The Dos Passos Review, and Amazing Graces: fiction by Washington DC area women. Her poetry in translation has been published in Ninth Letter.