Connect with us


Pieces of a Dream | Part 4: A Bigger Trip

Louis and Kadija sat in the crowded waiting room at Highland Hospital. The room smelled faintly of bleach…


You can read the other parts of Pieces of a Dream here:

Part #1 | Part #2 | Part #3


Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Louis and Kadija sat in the crowded waiting room at Highland Hospital. The room smelled faintly of bleach, with an undercurrent of stale sweat and vomit. It was packed with dozens of people suffering from minor injuries and illnesses. The waiting sufferers coughed and shuffled and moaned quietly.

Doctors and nurses moved in double time as a steady stream of trauma victims were rushed in through the ambulance bay. The patients included gunshot victims, auto accidents, and one man on a gurney who had what looked like a metal fence post rammed through his upper thigh.

“Sorry,” Kadija said. “I didn’t know it would be so crazy. I’ve never actually been here, just seen it passing by. Maybe we could go to a different hospital. One of the private hospitals.”

“Nah,” Louis said. “Friday night in Oaktown, it’s gonna be crazy anywhere. And I don’t have insurance, so this is the place to be. Since we have time,” he continued, “why don’t you tell me about your brother?”

“Alright.” Kadija sat back in her seat and looked up at the ceiling. “It’s hard to know where to start.”

“Start at the end,” Louis said. “A lot of story writers do that.”

“Okay.” Kadija took a deep breath then let it out in a puff.

“My brother got back from Iraq two years ago, then killed himself last year.” She looked at Louis with her lips slightly pursed. “He was always aggressive in a playful kind of way – he was the youngest of us three, me and my older brother and him, and we used to pick on him mercilessly when he was a kid, so he grew up thick skinned. So when he came back from Iraq and he was very aggressive, getting angry and picking fights, we didn’t notice the difference right away; and by the time we did, it was too late. He shot himself with a gun we didn’t know he had. He bought it at Walmart, of all places. Like buying a bag of chips. He left a note saying that he couldn’t live with the things he’d done. He’d never spoken about it. I still don’t know what he was talking about.”

Louis reached for Kadija’s hand, but she pulled away. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m a Muslim woman and I’m not supposed to have any physical contact with a strange man.”

“Am I strange?” Louis said.

“Strange in this context only means that you’re not my husband or my relative,” Kadija explained.

“I’m very sorry about your brother,” Louis said softly.  “I’ve known others who did the same. It’s terrible.”

Kadija gave a small shrug. “I wish we had known then what we know now. We would have been on the lookout. Unpredictable anger, self-loathing, self-destructive behavior. They say it’s common in vets who have seen a lot of combat.” Kadija looked at Louis pointedly.

Louis looked down at the white tiled floor. An empty sandwich wrapper lay near his foot. “You knew I was lying about not being in combat?” he said.

“Not for sure until tonight,” Kadija replied. “But you faced down two guys with weapons, and you won. I watched from the window when you came down the sidewalk. I never would have guessed you were injured. You moved like an animal.”

Louis’s jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he said.

“Oh, Louis!” Kadija’s eyes got round and she put her hand on her heart. “No, I didn’t mean anything bad! I just meant that you walked with a kind of grace and power, and I thought of a jungle cat.”

Louis grunted wordlessly.

Kadija nodded her head and raised her eyebrows. “Okay?” she said.

“Yeah, okay.” Louis assented.

They sat in silence. A middle aged couple walked in, and the woman, who looked quite conservative and normal otherwise, promptly laid down on the floor and gestured for her husband to explain her problem to the admitting nurse. The husband began stammering about his wife’s back pain, as the wife’s gestures became increasingly agitated.

Louis and Kadija exchanged a glance. Louis covered his mouth with his hand, and tried not to laugh.

“Kadija,” Louis said. “You know how you said you had to avoid contact with me because I’m not your husband?”

“Yeeeees,” Kadija said, drawing the word out with a questioning tone.

“Well, hypothetically speaking, if you and I got to know each other and you found that you liked me… you know…”

“I can’t marry a non-Muslim man, Louis, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Well, I wasn’t proposing marriage or anything.” Louis laughed. “But why can’t you, anyway?”

“It’s not allowed in Islam.”

“Why is that? I mean, isn’t love more important than rules? Isn’t God a God of love? Why should He want to keep people apart?”

Kadija arched her eyebrows. “Are you saying you love me?”

Louis felt his face get hot. He looked at the sandwich wrapper on the floor. “Well… I don’t know,” he said. “There’s something about you. I knew it the first time I met you. I do think about you.”

“Hmm,” Kadija said. “And what do you think?”

Louis glanced at Kadija’s face, then back at the floor.

“I think you are beautiful,” he said. “And you’re calm in a way that I need. I think… uhhh… I think you could save me.”

Kadija sat back in her chair and let out a breath. “Wow,” she said. “I’ll tell you the truth, Louis, I think you are special too. If you were Muslim, who knows? But what you said about love being more important than rules, that would be true if I worshiped love. If love were my god, then yes, I’d do anything for it, I’d break any rule, make any sacrifice, fight anyone. But it’s not. God is my God, and it’s for Him that I will do anything, and make any sacrifice. I’m on a journey, and I don’t mean this move to San Francisco.” She smiled. “A bigger trip. And the end of it is Paradise Insha’Allah, and I can’t let anything derail me from that. That’s the bottom line for me, Louis. And as far as saving you, I think you give me too much credit. I think you’re seeing something in me that is bigger than me, and that’s what you’re reaching for, not me. A person has to believe in something, Louis, or what are we doing here?”

“I used to believe in things,” Louis said. “But it’s hard to go on believing when you’ve seen what I’ve seen.”

“I don’t doubt that’s true,” Kadija said. “But you have to try. Maybe you can’t be the person you wanted to be before, or believe in the things you believed back then. But you can find a new dream. You’re an honorable man. I see it. Your journey is just beginning, and you have far to go, I’m sure of it.”




From the grassy dome of Bernal Heights Park, Louis could see everything from Noe Valley to Berkeley. He could even see the Golden Gate Bridge in the far distance, shimmering in the haze of the late morning sunshine. The wind was gusting, carrying the scent of salt, and in spite of the sunlight that warmed the good side of his face, Louis was glad for his pea coat. A red-tailed hawk cruised not twenty feet over Louis’ head, circled the radio tower that topped the hill, and settled in one of the scattered trees around the tower.

The sun had already been up over Oakland by the time they’d gotten out of the hospital.  Louis’ shoulder had still been numb from the anesthetic. They both called in sick. Kadija was exhausted, but Louis insisted on a quick detour to the hardware store in Emeryville, where he bought a high-security deadbolt and a few tools. Back at the apartment, Kadija busied herself wiping the blood from the floor and picking up the mess, as Louis installed the deadbolt, being careful not to move his injured arm too much.

“I’ve kicked in my share of doors,” Louis had said when he was done. “This thing will hold up. The actual deadbolts are unbreakable on all these locks, but a lot of the strike plates are flimsy. This one has a high-security box strike instead. It’s kick proof and drill proof.”

Kadija smiled. “I have no idea what you just said,” she remarked. “But I trust your judgment.”

Before leaving, Louis had paused in the doorway. The apartment had cleaned up nicely. It was small, but cozy. Kadija had put the wall hangings back up and tacked the poster on the wall without the shattered frame. It was an amazing image of an ancient mosque with a flock of hundreds of birds flying overhead.

The small sofa was back in place, and all the books had been ordered on the bookshelf. Louis felt peaceful in this place. It felt like home in a way that his own apartment never had, which was strange. Was it possible for your home to be not a place, but a person?

“It’s alright, Louis,” Kadija said to him before he left. “It’ll be alright.”

Back in San Francisco, Louis stopped at a Chinese bakery in the Mission and bought a coconut bun – a soft, sesame-sprinkled roll filled with sugar, butter and coconut. He stuffed it in his pocket, then parked in the Heights and jogged to the top of the hill.

Louis had noticed that the families who came here to picnic, and the singles who came to walk their dogs, always gazed north to the Mission and downtown, or west to Noe Valley, or further to the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin. But Louis turned now to the east, shading his eyes against the sun. He let his eyes travel past the warehouses along the Third Street corridor, to the San Francisco docks, and then the bay.

Across the bay, in the distance, the flatlands of Oakland merged into a blue shadow, backed by the emerald wall of the East Bay hills. Somewhere within that blue shadow, Kadija was probably sleeping. Quite a bit further east, Louis knew, was Iraq, where people were still fighting and dying. But the thought seemed far away, as remote as Baghdad itself.

He took the coconut bun out of his pocket and bit into it. It was warm, chewy and indescribably delicious. Louis felt alive and powerful. He felt on the edge of something real. Unstuck, he thought. I’m unstuck. Maybe once night fell and he was alone in his apartment, the feeling would be lost, and he’d find himself squeezing his head between his palms again.

But he didn’t think so.

With a last, longing look to the east, Louis turned and walked home.


Louis and Kadija’s story continues in the next story in the series:  A Lion is Born.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including a greatly expanded version of Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and the upcoming Uber Tales – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including,, and He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.



  1. Amanda T

    December 27, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    I think the last line should instead be ‘THE BEGINNING’.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      December 27, 2012 at 2:47 AM

      It’s interesting you should say that. I am doing the final edits on the next story right now.

      • Amanda T

        December 27, 2012 at 2:55 AM

        Ooh, great! How many more parts will there be?

        • Wael Abdelgawad

          December 27, 2012 at 2:58 AM

          The next story is about a different character, actually. But Louis and Kadija do make an appearance. It’s a longer story. Eight parts, most likely.

  2. stay home mum

    December 27, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    What a nice story love to know what happens next

  3. Hakeem

    December 27, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    this could be made into a good novel,ya akhi~

    keep writing,bro! can’t wait~

  4. Kaljay

    December 27, 2012 at 4:34 AM

    Parts 1 and 2 were really catchy and kept me on the edge of my chair, but it’s like u just lost that touch in parts 3 and 4 and just wanted to wrap the whole thing up. I’m a silent fan of islamicsunrays.
    What went wrong? I know u have done, and can do better!
    Cuddos for giving it a try though, salam.

  5. Nawaz

    December 27, 2012 at 4:46 AM

    What happened next in their life??
    There should be more part of this story..

  6. Qur'an Reading

    December 27, 2012 at 6:55 AM

    This is your nice post.This is a beautiful way to share the knowledge and provide the update to people.

  7. Mahvish Munir

    December 27, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Asalamualaikum Brother,

    Mashallah You have an amazing gift of writing! I was waiting anxiously for each part. Although a great story I do wish there was more to the ending. Did Louis embrace Islam? What happened to their relationship?
    I will definetly be looking out for more of your work so please keep writing :)

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      December 28, 2012 at 2:05 AM

      Some things are left to the reader’s imagination. I’m not one of those writers that likes to tie things up with a neat little bow. That said, what ultimately happens between Louis and Kadija will come out in another story, Insha’Allah.

  8. Random

    December 27, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Jazaakal-Laahu khairaa for the interesting stories. Your writing is really good, mashaa-alLaah.

    Just thought I should add a disclaimer, some (or maybe a lot) of the informal interactions between the 2 genders were not islamic and should be avoided. Here it ended without any major complications, but it could have ended much worse, so be careful people.

    I guess thats one of the morals you can extract from this story. May Allaah bless the writer in all his writings, and give him the best in this world and the next

  9. Amy

    December 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Thank you for writing these stories…much needed on many levels.

  10. mali

    December 27, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Salam where can I get the parts its the first time I saw these story I like it

  11. nousheen

    December 28, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    nice story i love to read

  12. Kaleem

    December 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Good end to a beautiful story masha Allah, really love your writing, masha Allah.


    December 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Nice to hear there’ll be more parts to this story, but sad to hear they won’t include Louis and Khadijah in them as much anymore. And to hear that her brother died was a shock, for some reason I thought he was still alive and she wanted Louis to meet him…anyway nice ending brother, if only a bit open-ended!

  14. AK

    December 28, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    It ended! I think I will miss browsing and suddenly finding the next part. I had wished he would become a Muslim and hey we may never know. Being a sap for “happy endings” isn’t ideal . . . But one can always hope :)

    InshaAllah will wait for your next :)

  15. Zari

    December 29, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Going by the past stories that have appeared on this site, I was expecting something more moral-wise, learning-wise. It is a beautiful story though and marvelous writing. I think I would readily buy a novel authored by you even if it had no plot.

    Your next story has EIGHT parts? I think we readers will go crazy with the suspense :)

  16. Aisha

    December 30, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    This was really good! I looked forward every week to reading the story. But I feel like this story needs closure- what happens to Louis? Does he become Muslim? What about Louis and Kadijah?I feel like you should continue writing about them. I agree with the past comment, you have an amazing talent for writing, and you should keep at it- and keep at this story bc i feel like it’s not done!! Good job though!

  17. ArabianSpace

    December 31, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    I am not into reading that much, but i have to admit that reading this part made me want to read the next one. Very good story. keep it up!

  18. broAhmed

    January 1, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    I guess I can no longer demand that you write another part now that the series has ended. Saw you mention in your replies to other comments that you’re currently writing another story and that Louis and Kadija will make an appearance in them. Love reading fiction with an Islamic twist or focus! Keep it up!

  19. ZB

    January 2, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    Really enjoyed reading this story! Definately rushed at the end though, was looking forward to a more lengthy and detailed part 4 similar to the previous parts. I hope you continue the story. Please write more!

  20. Diyan

    January 2, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    I was captivated by your story! I hope to find out what happens with Louis and Kadija, but I think I already know… :)

  21. zeze

    January 4, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    I can’t wait to read the next one Inshallah.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      January 4, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Jazakum Allah khayr for all your kind comments. Since so many have said that Part 4 felt incomplete, maybe I’ll add a follow-up chapter in the future.

  22. Maryam

    January 8, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    Br Wael- When can we expect the next story to be out inshAllah? :) And I enjoy reading fiction- but this is a rare occasion where I have come across a muslim twist to a story. Any other similar works you could point me towards perhaps? Jzk.

  23. Kulz

    January 9, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Mashallah you’re a strong writer! His journey to become unstuck…wow.

  24. Wael Abdelgawad

    January 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    To those of you who wanted to know what happened next, it’s taken me a year, but here is the sequel to this story:

  25. Sister H

    January 19, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    I loved this series! It was very refreshing! Please continue writing short stories and novels; you have a real talent for it ma sha Allah!

  26. ElvenInk

    April 16, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    I just finished reading this first part (all four chapters of it in one sitting). Your writing is very polished and professional and the story is gripping. Jazak Allah Khair! Looking forward to reading the next part soon Insha Allah! :D

  27. muslimcreativewritersnetwork

    April 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    I’ve just come across this series and found it enjoyable with just the right amount of suspense, ma sha Allah! Louis is an interesting character and provokes much thought about people who Muslims might often blanket label as “the enemy” (understandably). This is one of the great benefits of literature, of course – encouraging deeper reflection! I look forward to reading your next series shortly, in sha Allah.

    Barak Allah fik,
    Muslim Creative Writers Network

  28. Wazeed Safi

    April 27, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Ma’Sha Allah. I rarely read books like this BUT you have got me hooked! bout to read the next one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *