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Knight Terra Press

littera manet sed lector oraculum

est. 1995

by Quinn Tyler Jackson

  • Published originally in Apotheosis, No. 9, May 1999.

When Ahmet Bey awoke, there was a still darkness over Istanbul. Only clean cotton sheets covered his body. With one hand, he pulled the sheets down to his waist and patted his empty stomach. It sounded empty, but he was not particularly hungry for his morning meal. First, he moved his left leg over the side of the bed, until his foot touched the smooth wooden floor. He shifted his torso a bit, and then his right root was beside his left. He sat up, the sheet still around him from the waist down. Moments later, he was standing naked, stretching at the side of his bed. When he moved his toes, he could feel the bones in his feet crack. With a quick, routine gesture, he pulled a small, decorated mat from underneath the bed, unrolled it in the direction he knew it must face, and patted it flat to the floor.


Ahmet’s apartment had only one main room that served as a bedroom, eating area, and den. He walked slowly to the small washroom, cracking the bones in his feet some more. The mirror, which was set in a wooden frame coated with now peeling paint, had tiny cracks—fractures—around the edges. How long ago it had been hanged there, Ahmet could only guess. The tap squeaked loudly when he turned it, and rattled loudly with cavitation as the water came up the piping and around many bends. He filled a small flask with cold water, poured the water over his lower arms. Once his arms were clean, he refilled the flask, stood in the shower stall, and poured the cold water over his groin. The cold stream of water poured down his legs and down the drain. Ahmet shook the excess water from him, grabbed a clean, white towel, and wrapped it around his waist. After putting on the clean cotton underwear, trousers, and shirt he had placed on the chair beside his bed the night before, he stood on the prayer mat and said his first prayer of the day towards Mecca. The boards of the floor under the mat moaned a bit as he moved in prayer.


His prayer over, Ahmet put on a pair of clean socks, pulled his leather shoes over them, tied his shoes, and walked to the door of his apartment. He opened the door a bit, reached around, and grabbed the small bag that Mahmet put there every morning. At his small eating table, he opened the bag and pulled out the small piece of fruit.


“An orange today,” Ahmet said to his cat Aslan, who had been stretched out on the narrow windowsill of the only window the apartment had throughout the entirety of the morning routine. He dug his finger a bit into the soft peel, tore the peel a bit, and began pulling it back. Once the orange was exposed, he broke it carefully into two, and placed one half on the paper of the bag it had been in. Aslan jumped from his ledge, making a soft thud when he hit the wooden floor, and then walked slowly over to his master.


Ahmet tickled under Aslan’s chin a bit as he pulled one wedge of the orange at a time from the first half. The tips of his fingers could feel the shaking of his purr. “You can’t eat oranges,” he apologized. “Maybe if he had brought a banana like yesterday,” he then tried to explain to his cat. Aslan didn’t seem to care at all that he would go without a snack; the sound of his claws scraping happily on the wooden floor seemed to say that he wanted his chin scratched, and nothing more.


“You know, Aslan, if someone wanted to poison me, all they would have to do is figure out that Mahmet leaves a piece of fruit for me every morning. I’d be easy to poison. Creature of habit. Full of fractures.”


Aslan didn’t care. He just scratched the floor under his claws, pushed his nose into Ahmet Bey’s hand, and accepted what he could get.


Books by this author:

Born and raised in Western Canada, Jackson grew up as a child in logging camps, where radio plays and reading were his only forms of entertainment. Upon his return to the city, he felt the call to write fiction, and approached art with a passion and fury. Rather than jump directly into authorhood, he first edited, and then promoted others’ writing as a literary agent. Eventually, he moved forward into his own art, and his first three novels were published in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2002.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006. He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada.

Jackson lives in Western Canada, where he continues to write fiction and work in scientific research.

With Lily the Aussie - 2013
Quinn Tyler Jackson
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