Hiba H.

The Pyramid And I

She had seen her life flash in front of her eyes. It was the most scared she had ever been. No other time could compare. Her heart had sunk so low that it began to drown and could barely come back up for air. The moment itself was no longer than a minute or two. But the fear was worth nothing short of an eternity. It scared her to the point where every hair on her arms had risen. In fact, not just her arms, but her neck, legs and back too were on edge, all straight, all cold with fear.

She was in Cairo sightseeing everything Egyptian. And she loved it all: the history, the food, the clothes, the camels, the heat. She was an unstoppable eleven-year-old girl on a vacation with her family. She wanted to walk every foot of every mile in this ancient land. She wanted to bring the mummies back to life and talk to them. She wanted to fix the broken nose of the Sphinx.

She was inside the pyramid when it happened.  As a tourist, she wished to explore inside a pyramid. The sound of this opportunity thrilled her and excited her to the point where the begging to Mom and Dad for permission to go inside had reached an unbearable point for them. They caved. She had convinced them to allow her to go.

She was so excited. She felt like a star of her own Sherlock Holmes movie. It was a great feeling. She was curious about what lurked in the corner and anticipated only the best. Nothing could ruin this for her. She handed her ticket to the tall, grungy man in front of the entrance and in his broken English he replied “Mind your head. Follow the lights.” She obeyed his order and found herself terribly uncomfortable as she crouched low. She noticed everything. She noticed how the lights looked as though they were from an earlier century. She noticed how huge the hair was of the lady in front of her. She noticed the two boys behind her laughing and scaring one another with ghost stories. It didn’t scare her, but one of the boys was terrified. It took about two minutes of careful crawling until she arrived to a larger set of rocky, unstable stairs, but only she realized they were rocky and stable on the way back down. She focused solely on what awaited upstairs. And, it wasn’t long until the forty people reached to a room to the top. This place was a larger room with more paintings on the wall continuing from the staircase. Every symbol told a story, and she yearned only to know what the drawings were saying. She assumed they were conveying the story of the princess whose tomb she was standing near now. As she went close to observe the tomb she was slightly disappointed. Hoping for a skeleton or obvious features, she was let down to find only wrappings. Something intriguing she did find was an unborn baby’s skeleton that was in the womb of a princess when she had died.  But, all this is an adjunct to the real story, for this is now was she will most vividly remember. What scared her did not occur in this room. It occurred in the next.

Returning along the same stairs, she saw that the lady with the big hair was no longer in front of her but was now whining to her bald husband about how she was scared about falling down the stairs. This constant whining annoyed her. In front of her now were the two boys, quiet like mice, as if they had just seen ghosts. She found it unusual for two boys of that immature age to be humbled so deeply by the sight of a mummy. But she was only being careful about each step she took and admiring the hieroglyphics of the walls when she heard a BAM. “AHHHHHH” she yelled.

I was no longer the brave eleven year old. For some reason, a reason to this day I wonder about, the lights in the staircase had dimmed completely and refused to come back on for a full minute or two. Everyone was dead silent. No one dared to say a word. I felt as if I were alone in the pyramid. Those were the longest two minutes of my life. All I could think about was how I was going to die. I convinced myself it was the spirit of the dead princess who was making this happen. She was angry, and I was scared. I held on to the railing of the stairs as if my life rested on my grip. My knees became weak, and I could no longer hold up my body, but I made sure I did. I became cold and lost all sense of security. I could hear my heart pumping my blood faster throughout my body. My eyes were wide open in the dark searching for whatever they could. A part of me was searching for the cause of this darkening and the other the solution. And after that one eternally long minute subsided, I could see. I became like the two boys in front of me. They were now chattering, and I was now in deep humility. It was in that moment I think that I had exchanged my personality with them, for I was never the same person that day foreword. This one experience in a foreign country took the curious eleven-year-old and transformed her into a cautious child. Whether the change was for the better or not, I cannot say. But all I know is that the memories live now and will live forever.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.