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By Marya Aziz

Translated by Naz Senan

She closed her eyes and went back to the beach. As she walked, she took off her clothes, piece by piece. She sat by the shore with emptiness inside her. The ocean breeze and the sound of the seagulls were a peaceful melody to her ears. The summer heat transported her back to old times. She closed her eyes and asked herself: “Which time? Why does this tune sound so familiar? Where did it start? And how did it make the emptiness inside me even bigger?” She went back to the moment in which she was created, the time when she was just a small seed inside her mother and was about to be aborted when it was discovered that she was female.

She went back to a time when she was still a little girl who was terrified by her father, who used to tell her horrible things about sins. She had many questions about life and death. She still remembered telling her father that she was not afraid of hell. She still remembered her father picking her up and putting her on the furnace, to have her feel its heat. She got chills every time she remembered this incident.  She never knew what it felt like to have a loving mother; she never had any kisses or hugs from her. She only received hatred and heart-breaking speeches from her mother, who always criticized her for being a girl.

She remembered her suicide attempts in her teenage years. She still did not understand why she considered suicide as salvation. Maybe her despair started with the countless failed love affairs she had; they were all meaningless and temporary, only a sexual desire that ended up leaving her broken and alone.

It might have started when she decided to build her own universe, which she failed at, making her feel more lost than before. Perhaps it was because she was always obligated to wear a mask to hide her true nature and forced to show a different face to deceive the outside world.

It might have started at the moment she decided to run for her life but the opposite happened. Or when she decided to remove her mask and let people know her true self but was ignored and broken, so she wore her mask again. Or when life became so hard and her biggest dream was to watch the sunrise with no fears of showing who she really was.

Who was she? She did not know which part of “being herself” she did not achieve that made her end up here. Did she know what she wanted and what she needed? What was so special about the emptiness inside of her? God is here to fill all the emptiness, but what will fill up her emptiness? Was it too late for her, or was there still hope?

She opened her eyes. The ocean sound became too loud on her phone, so she closed it and put her clothes back on. She looked at herself in the mirror with sympathy and asked herself: What are you doing? Doesn’t thinking made you tired? Why don’t you ever learn your destiny? She put her head down and asked herself: What happened? Who created this hole inside of me? Why was it created? At what point in my life did I become so lost? Am I the only person in the world who is this lost and alone, with so many dark questions?

She closed her eyes and went back to the beach. She took off her clothes as she walked to the beach. With emptiness inside of her, she sat by the shore.

Naz Senan: Is a freelance translator, majoring in English Literature and Language. She was born in Baghdad.