The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop


by Hala Alzain


Springtime in Kuwait is the perfect time for picnics. Actually, it’s the only time for picnics. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Kuwait is a small, peaceful country in the Middle East, where for most of the year it is very hot.

One spring day when I was eleven years old, my family joined a few other families for a day at the beach. Being a typical Syrian family, we packed a lot of food. Food determines whether a picnic is a success or not. We kids had a different way of judging picnics. For us, the more we could play, the more awesome the picnic.

On this day, we raced each other up and down the hills and laughed when someone fell and rolled all the way to the bottom. Covered in bruises, we kicked off our shoes and ran to the sandy beach. There we collected shells, looking for the most beautiful and unique ones.

As I was digging, I found a spray can. I picked it up and was about to toss it aside when I spotted a symbol on it, a little red flame inside a triangle and underneath it, the word: “Flammable.”

I had an idea.

Back then I was a curious child. Some might have called me a naughty child. But I think I liked to experiment. I wanted to try things, usually dangerous things, to see what would happen.

My friends gathered around and asked what I was thinking. As soon as I was finished sharing my plans, they scattered along the beach, gathering any materials that could be used to build a fire.

It was a perfect example of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

Not long after, we stood in a circle and watched our friend Ahmad light a fire. I stepped forward, raised my arm, and threw the can into the flames. We held our breaths as we watched, waiting for sparks or maybe an explosion. We were so excited we didn’t notice our parents running over at the sight of smoke.

My dad was at the front of the group of parents. By then I had a history of doing crazy things.

Suddenly, I felt myself pulled up and away from the fire. At first, I thought it was the force of the explosion that lifted me. But right away I realized it was my dad holding me. Other adult hands threw sand over the fire and put it out before the can exploded.

No one was hurt but I was in big trouble. Not only with my dad. I spent the rest of the picnic trying to convince the other parents I was just a kid who wants to explore the world.