2022

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                   For my mother who thinks writing about politics is a suicidal act;

                           For my father who was killed before I could say dad;

                                    For my sisters who inspired me to survive;

                                                               To the World,

                                                                          2022

                                                                          By: Nour Osama El Borno

                                                        Chapter -1-

                                                 The Happening

You never stop wondering, “Could time really freeze?” At least I don’t. What if there are people who stop time without us noticing it? What if there are people who make changes without us realizing it? The day I learned that I could stop time was the day I realized it was true. It was in late August when it happened. I was at the beach enjoying the view of mountain-big waves rushing, kicking emptiness and some rocks beneath me. They sounded like leaves fooling around on a windy night. I couldn’t understand anything of what they were saying. I was busy hearing my own thoughts sneezing and coughing. I didn’t have cold, my head did. Things were moving too fast and life didn’t seem to want to wait for me. I had given up the search for inner peace and decided to revolt against my external enemies. I got up; I jumped in the water; I died. It was entirely unusual to meet a mermaid in a reality where mermaids and prince charming are mere myths. However, I did. People still think I am insane for saying this. My mom, so many times, begged me to keep my mouth shut about that incident. But you believe me, right? You believe I met a mermaid.

 I didn’t really jump; I tripped. It was the best tripping ever happened to me. I tripped once over a body of a woman when I was seven, in 2008, while running from the rockets; I tripped over the rubble when I was running from the rockets in 2012; and I tripped, I tripped over the remains of my distorted cat when I returned to see what was left of my house after 2014 war. That day was my 21st birthday and I tripped over a rock, -etless. Time froze. For 72 hours, it froze. When they got me out of the water and I woke up, they told me I was in a coma for three days. I tried to explain them that time froze and I travelled through time and a mermaid saved me. “She must have hit her head so hard,” was the only response I had. No one believed me. Well, no one except for my niece but I guess only because she was four and she loved me and knew I could never lie to her.

It happened. You believe me, right?

It was a slow fall. It took a while until I reached the water though it wasn’t that far from the rocks. The second my head reached the water, my ears were covered and complete silence arose. Nothing was audible except for a dime sound of waves still rushing, still kicking emptiness and some rocks above my head. Very slowly, very gently, the water pulled me down to a very deep and dark spot; I saw the clouds waving goodbye. There were so many types of fish; any fisherman would have felt so happy. Too bad I was not a fisherman. I could use some happiness. The water was still pulling me down. The fish stopped. My eyes were half open-half closed. My heart was racing. My breathing was normal, though. I heard some giggles; I tried to turn my head but the water, still pulling me so fiercely, was controlling me. I couldn’t move any of my limbs, head included. It wasn’t done against my will. After years of sharing secrets and thoughts with the sea, I’d dare say we have a bond. We trust each other. Like real buddies. I felt safe. It felt like a comforting embrace, very warm and very friendly. “Who’s laughing?” I wondered with sealed lips but moving thoughts. “You’re here. You made it!” “Where am I?”

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