The Prey This morning he woke up empowered with the intention to capture the moment he has been visualizing since he first knew about the contest. He picked up the last Saturday’s newspaper to be certain of one thing: the contest deadline. A minute of vigilant scanning brought him to the line of certitude. He stood up and stretched his hands out to feel that all the fatigue was leaking away from the ends of his hands. It was the last day to submit entries for the advertised photography contest. Last week, the advertisement of the contest caught his sight on an idle newspaper at work. He took the newspaper home and hasn't looked at it before this very morning. The prize was a 10-megapixel digital camera as he could clearly remember. Yet, he postponed thinking of taking the adventure until the weekend would come. The scene has been created in his head since he considered participating in the contest. He visualized a photo of a bird, most presumably a seagull, grasping the sun with his keen claws, and now he wanted to take that photo. He wanted to print that specific scene out. The seagull was preferred because it is a relatively peaceful bird that would contribute to the beauty of the photo. He wanted the seagull to fly on the top rim of the sun, with the sun looking as a prey the bird is carrying to his nest. Thus, he was going out to give a real dimension to the scene so that it would materialize. The whole world was still yawning when he left the warmth of the house. He rubbed his eyes and looked around to make sure that no one would see him going out. His wife never woke up in the mornings, but he thought of their meddlesome neighbors. After he distributed a good deal of apprehensive looks and became sure no eye had caught him, he stuffed his camera in his pocket and carried a little shoulder bag. His lively body tore the misty morning as he was crossing the narrow streets of the drowsy town. The dewy leaves roughly tiled the asphalt streets, and the soft rustle that arose from under his feet as he treaded on them was like the sound of chewing a biscuit dipped in tea. He could feel the camera crammed in his side pocket rubbing his waist as he walked in broad steps. Jeddah ravens never told Jeddah mornings were promising. Their noise spoiled the tranquility that featured that time of the year. As the man got to sea, he was content that no raven could be seen in the place. The weather was fair; only few clouds did appear on the vast sky like bumpy pillows of white cotton. However, a film of haze veiled the space in ambiguity although the eternal trip of the sun had just begun its predetermined course. He looked at the sun with one open eye and wished he could wake up once like the sun always did. He lowered his gaze and saw that green moss overcoated the rocks resting lazily on the shore. The glutinous moss was washed every now and then by the waves that created tiny crystal bubbles. The bubbles died every moment on the green carpet and let the place for new bubbles to be born in an everlasting circulation. White seagulls topped the bald rocks that spread randomly along the seashore. They scattered away like a towel flicked in the air when he flagged his arm. He thought that one of those flying birds might help him with the visualized photo. When the towel vanished in the air, he leant to a rock cut as a chair giving his back to the youthful sun. He rubbed his eyes for the second time and loosened his sight. Water climbed his legs on frequent raids, and salty sprinkles flew to his temple and ascended to the neck, but they did not dare to reach his dry face. He felt the sun climbing his back, and kept pursuing his shadowing shrinking and twirling over the rocks behind him in a reverse motion to the sun. Ahead of the sitting man, sun rays were breaking on the surface of the sea making a gay flood of dazzling flashes. And when the sun was crawling slowly in the heart of the sky, hunger sneaked into his veins. So, he resorted to the little shoulder bag that was laid by his feet. He opened the tuna can and fetched a couple of hand palm-sized bread slices. The empty nylon bag was rolled by the breeze, but he grabbed it and fastened it by his foot. He tasted the tuna soup and spit the salt. He thought that it was the salt of the sea, and hence it should be returned. He was swallowing the bread slices with the tuna when he heard a crackle and raised his head. A woman appeared, veiled in a black gown that absorbed the heat of the sultry sun. She was in her early thirties or so he guessed. While she was walking, a line of navy blue crescents were arranged at the rim of her gown. She approached in bold timidity and stood near him. Her body was fastened to a meager circle of shadow under her feet. He invited her, but she thanked him and sat in front of him, preventing him from looking at the sea. He ate the bread slices in a few bites and swept the tuna left in the corners of the can using the back of his thumb. When he finished sucking his thumb, the woman offered a toothpick. He stretched his hand to take the toothpick, and asked what 'victory' meant. She was embarrassed as she looked at her breast knowing that he has picked the word from his blouse. “I don't know,” she replied as she was buttoning the gown. He seemed not worried about her ignorance. She didn't ask if he knew what it meant. “It must be a good word,” she said after a minute of silence. He didn't show any care. Time passed as they conversed on different issues. Birds landed and flew, landed and flew and landed again. Each time a bird flies, he removes the lid of his camera waiting for his prey. She was following the flying birds when she broke the silence again. She complained that as a woman, she cannot enjoy the hobby as a man does. “I cannot go out to get the scenes whenever I want and take the photos I want.” “No need for going out to take a photo. Moments that we go for can never be as meaningful and significant as moments the come to us.” She suggested that he would be aware of the can edge, and commented: “But you came here to take a photo! You came for the moment, didn’t you?” “I did come in the morning, not for the moment, but to be in the right place so that the moment would come to me. And I am waiting now as you see.” “So you are waiting… isn’t that an action?” He didn't answer, but she went on, “It is like the difference between look at something and see something. We intend to look at, but we happen to see.” “Not always. Actually not always…” he said, throwing away the can. “It is the chance. We don't make a chance; we get ready to receive it.” “But we are involved in its happening or most importantly its eternity.” “What matters is how much we are involved!” she assured. They talked, and then she wished him good luck and turned to leave. After she took some steps away, she looked back and delivered a seductive smile that he couldn't comprehend. He erected the toothpick between the bases of his upper and lower teeth, and pressed his tongue against the toothpick in naive diversion. He traced her steps going away from the place and noticed that the navy blue crescents on her gown were distorted by smudges of the wet sand. When he looked back at the sea, splashes became wilder and wilder, and reached his face for the first time during the day. The hand of nature swept the hazy film away, and colors regained their original identity. The late evening sun was now an intact golden circle as it began descending towards the line. It was fueling the waves which moved forth and back in a numbing lullaby. When he looked at the sun, it seemed like a ripened navel orange. He thought the scene would be complete if a bird spread his wings above the orange like two mean leaves that began to wan. Meanwhile, his attention was drawn to a couple of seagulls restlessly mating on the shallow water surface. The wings of the bird in the top were clapping in lust. A child's cry came from somewhere and startled the couple. The male bird freely flew away leaving semicircles that expanded on the water edge like open rings, while the lame female bird stumbled on the water with its back feathers jumbled. He looked to see the source of the cry. A lot of families came to the place to cherish the beauty of the seafront at that time. They sat in scattered human circles. Men often placed themselves opposite to the sea where they can enjoy looking at the sea and their female counterparts. They think, by doing so, they segregate women from the street behind. They also think women are lucky to be between their male protectors and the sea. Seagulls were returning to their nests. They landed on the rocks that now seemed like devout worshippers crouching in front of the almightiness of the sea. He was able to notice a girl with a camera in her hands. The teenager girl was holding the camera so tight that he could scarcely see it through her fingers. He recalled his conversation with the woman today and remembered that she surprisingly had no camera with her. When he saw the girl, she was looking back at her family who sat on a mat. She called for her little brother who soon responded. He joined her and they shyly moved towards the vigorous tide. The girl sent her sight to stare at the horizon line. When all the birds took their places on the rocks and no bird could be seen flying, the man penetrated the water to collect some shells for his wife. His legs were currently dipped in the water to the knees. He bent over the water, and the camera belt dangled from his neck and the camera touched the water. He lifted the camera, checked its lens and returned it back to his pocket. Bowing again, his body resembled a status of bronze engraved by a skilful hand. Meanwhile, advanced the girl and pictured him as he was raising the bag without his notice. The bag was semitransparent that the lower part of the sun could be seen through the bag. He looked as if he was carrying the sun in his bag. A week later, he was biting his lower lip when his wife released an anguish shout from her chamber. “It was just a moment that came to her. It just came to her,” he murmured, and then he closed the newspaper and laid it down on the table.