‘From a bonfire in a Beirut car park’

Let me tell you a love story. It’s 1982. Beirut. The sky has turned the colour of artichoke flowers. It’s dark enough, at last, and the streetlights are no longer here to betray us.

Ibrahim says, ‘Kiss me,’ and I do. How can I explain a love like that? It’s a love that’s bigger than the streets, taller than the concrete skeletons we stand in. It’s a love that defies this city, and all the armies that tried to destroy it.

Anywhere else in the world, it would not be like this. We would not love so hard, with our arms so open, if we were not certain we would die tonight.

Answer me this. Where would you go, if it was your last time? I lost count of the nights we asked ourselves that question, and every time we were certain that it was. By some miracle, we’d made it this far, both of us, and what were the chances of that?

In this country, we don’t talk about love. It’s a hard word to say. But not any more, not here. I shout it in the hopeless wreck of a house, in the empty streets, in a multi-storey car park beside a bonfire, and we know whoever hears us will be dead tomorrow too, and we laugh.

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