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داستان بلند ادبی

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# A Fascinating Literary Tale

Have you ever found yourself lost in deep thought while sitting alone in a dimly lit hallway? In those moments, when the shadows dance on the floor and the sound of footsteps echoes from the lower floors, peculiar thoughts can fill your mind. This is the story of a woman, Sima, who found herself in such a situation.

Sima’s Solitude

Sima sat on the stairs, her eyes fixed on the contents of her shopping basket. The hallway lights flickered, but she didn’t bother turning them on. The dim light from the window behind her cast long shadows on the floor. She felt a sense of unease, as if her recently purchased groceries were mocking her, prancing up and down the hallway. She feared she might touch them and unleash chaos. Every now and then, the sound of footsteps resonated from the lower floors, but none of them belonged to her husband. They were the cautious steps of elderly neighbors making their way down the stairs. The sound of their hands brushing against the metal railings seemed to coil within the building.

An Unexpected Encounter

Lost in her thoughts, Sima suddenly heard a door opening in the neighboring apartment. She turned her head only to find her neighbor, a woman with short, boyish hair, cleaning the doorframe with a handkerchief. The woman greeted Sima, but the darkness prevented her from fully seeing her features. Although older than Sima, the woman had slender legs and a vibrant appearance. Sima couldn’t help but notice her energy and health. The neighbor continued her cleaning. After a while, she abruptly asked, “Are you waiting by the door?” Sima laughed and replied, “I forgot my keys!” In reality, Sima hadn’t brought any keys. It had been less than a month since they moved in, and she hadn’t found the time to make a key yet. Suddenly, Sima had a craving for a cigarette. The idea of sitting alone in the dark hallway and smoking made her chuckle. She reached into her bag without looking and touched her cigarette pack. Just then, the door across from her opened. The person inside stood still, searching for something. It was their Afghan neighbor, Asad, holding a broom in one hand and a bucket in the other. He greeted Sima, his broom leaning against the neighbor’s door. Sima invited him to sit, but Asad replied, “Not now, he’s coming. I don’t know where he went.” Asad stood on the stairs, his gaze wandering. The neighbor urged him, “Come on, sit with me. I’m alone now. He’s about to clean the stairs and turn off the water.” Asad hesitated, then decided to join her. “No, he’ll be back. I don’t know where he went.” Asad stood still, his eyes scanning the stairs. The neighbor insisted, “Come on, just sit. Let’s have some tea together. No small talk.” Asad scratched his ear as if thinking. The neighbor picked up her basket and tossed her bag onto her shoulder, then headed into her neighbor’s apartment. It was an identical apartment to hers, but somewhat more cheerful. It faced the light, with lightly shaded gray walls that transitioned into a hint of blue. The neighbor said, “Sit down, I’ll wash my hands.” Sima sat on the single-seater couch in front of the window. On the table beside her was a porcelain sculpture of a Chinese woman carrying a large fish. The sculpture had fallen and its small pendant was still swinging. It seemed the neighbor had knocked it over while cleaning it. The room had a light pink carpet, and the wooden chairs were adorned with fabric in the color of flower petals. Sima glanced at the small silver-framed photos on the wall, perhaps depicting the neighbor’s family.

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Unexpected Questions

The neighbor’s voice came from the bathroom while Sima looked at the portrait of a slim woman, her hand resting on the neighbor’s shoulders. She must have been a student, with her faded jeans and her hair tied in loops. In the picture, it seemed like they were strolling. The neighbor had her arm tightly wrapped around the woman as if she wanted to crush her. One of the pictures had been cut, removing the unidentified woman next to her. Sima pondered if it could have been the neighbor’s husband, and maybe they had divorced, and she had cut him out of the picture to erase any trace of him. Sima thought for a moment, realizing that she had never seen the woman’s husband. Finally, she asked, “How does your husband see this picture?” The neighbor, still in the bathroom, replied, “I don’t know your name. I saw your last name on the doorbell, but now I don’t remember.” Sima said, “I’m Sima.” The neighbor, standing by the bathroom, raised her pants a bit. Her ankles looked delicate and graceful—just like those of foreign actresses. Sima, without realizing it, started to imagine the neighbor wearing tall black heeled shoes, her feet moving up and down. She then whispered something to herself, asking a nonsensical question that had lingered in her mind for some time: “How does my husband see this picture?” The neighbor said, “I don’t know. I only saw your last name on the door, but now I don’t remember it.” Sima confirmed, “It’s Sima. What about you?” The neighbor, still holding the cigarette, raised an eyebrow and said, “Sima, huh? Don’t ruin your cabbages.” Sima thanked her, but declined the cigarette. The neighbor fake pouted and shook her head. She raised the cigarette towards her lips but, no matter how hard she struck it, no flame appeared. The cigarette remained untouched by the golden lighter, its cowboy riding a horse design perfectly intact. Reluctantly, the neighbor took a drag, her eyes fixated on the cigarette. Suddenly, she exhaled smoke and tossed her hand back as if she were sending a kiss. The cigarette fell out of Sima’s hand and onto the foot of the Chinese woman sculpture. Sima quickly picked it up. The neighbor stood, gripping the statue, seemingly preparing to lean on it. Sima quickly grabbed it from her.

Frantic Events

Sima’s mind finally caught up to the conversation that had taken place a few moments ago. She still couldn’t understand the exact meaning of the unfamiliar word that caused her to panic. But deep down, she believed that an illicit and forbidden meaning lay within the word “lesbian,” which she had unknowingly heard from someone’s mouth, but couldn’t recall who or where. Regardless, Sima knew that the neighbor had gotten too close, locking fingers with her and staring into her eyes with a curious intensity. Not knowing how to react, Sima’s eyes inadvertently met the neighbor’s gaze again. This time, she noticed the woman’s peculiarly droopy and unusual expression. Her mouth was dry, and her lips had swollen unnaturally, puffed up as if she had artificially enhanced them. Maybe she had undergone a cosmetic procedure to make her lips more prominent. Or perhaps it was a congenital condition. Sima tried her best to ignore her appearance. After all, what difference did it make to her? Suddenly, the neighbor lifted the statue and placed it on the side table. She opened the four-legged table and pulled the wardrobe door open. Placing her hand against the wardrobe, she winked at the dark and mysterious side of the wardrobe and said, “You’re alive, Farhad!” She then stood up, rushed to the apartment door, and opened it, grabbing her shoes along the way. She hurriedly descended the stairs, barefoot, spiraling down to escape the obscurity of the building. Sima, instead of leaving herself, decided to knock on the building manager’s door to thank her for cleaning the stairs, using it as an excuse to spend time in a safe and familiar place until Farhad arrived. Meanwhile, on the lower floor, after Sima had left, the neighbor glanced towards the door to make sure no one was on the stairs. Satisfied that no one was there, she approached the Chinese woman sculpture and removed it from its place. She then leaned against the dark wall of the wardrobe and said with a smile, “Alive, Farhad, my love, right?”

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