Somewhere in the back of his head he could hear a santoor, setar and chambar ensemble playing seductively from inside a tent, complete with towering candle stacks that exuded slowly undulating wisps of smoke.
Collin licked his lips in ecstasy and took a deep breath, soaking in the imaginary melodies. He gulped down the spoonful of saffron-infused halwa, causing the musicians to quiet their tune and slow it down to an even more enticing tempo.
Another spoonful summoned an explosive chord that sent the music into a powerful crescendo. Collin’s grin widened and he very nearly felt himself squeal in delight, but he didn’t want to interrupt the music.
The sweet paste nestled itself on his tongue and slowly melted; little dervishes made of sugar and saffron danced their whirling, mesmerizing dance across the muscle and the nearby palate with no signs of stopping or slowing down.
The music quickened its pace and continued to crescendo to match the dance of the dervishes spiraling madly in the tent.
The sun blanketing him suddenly vanished, replaced by a slight cool that caused him to open his eyes.
The music stopped and the tent vanished-he was back in the front seat of his dad’s car on the way to some family gathering. Instead of Persian instruments serenading him to a limbo-like sleep he was being bombarded with the latest in cookie-cutter electro-pop/rap/whatever it was on the radio, courtesy of his sister and cousin’s combined lack of taste, and his dad’s indifference.
He groaned as he realized that he’d left his headphones at home under the false assumption that he wouldn’t need them.
It’s okay, he thought to himself. Just wait ’til we exit the tunnel.
Moments later the car was back on the highway and under the sun, its gentle warmth returning once more to coax him back to sleep, and to guide him back to the tent in the desert. As soon as he’d entered the tent the music immediately resumed from where it had left off, the dervishes spinning and spinning with no end in sight.
Collin’s smile returned in full, his lips being pushed further and further from the taste of saffron still on his tongue.