“In-Betweens”, by Dr. Sharihan Al Akhras


It is almost winter again. Distance has finally taken its toll on us. Yes, we have become strangers, and we have signed the official, unspoken agreement of mutual, sincere indifference. I find myself staring at your pictures for hours on end, finding in your reflectionless eyes a final resource of sanity, a proof of a fading happening, that we once ‘were’. 

You may call this my “emotional diaries” for the no longer present you. Possibly, everything you will never, and do not care to know.

It is almost winter again. Your image remains solid.

I still guard all the memories that once defined your careless details, safely locked, and cunningly distributed throughout the deepest segments within me. They are beautifully surrounded by the core of all emotions, where memories forever dwell.

Do you remember that day when the children in us decided to become friends? The very same day when you and I noticed we had matching ‘beauty spots’ on our right hands, distributed in exact similar places. I find it silly to hope that you may remember me during one of the many times you look at your hand. It is even sillier to secretly wish so, when I have to admit that the very same hand could be in the process of familiarizing itself with another person, maybe playing with someone else’s hair, or counting other beauty spots. After all, hands are not really famous for memory, are they?

It is almost winter… again. The cold has faithfully remained present, just like your unwavering departure. Its days are similar; like those days when I was consumed by you simply existing; laughing, smoking your cigarette, and looking at me with eyes filled with postponed talk due to an early time. How mesmerized I was by your mystifying knowledge behind that calm exterior of yours. Never had anyone so perfectly remained confident, certain, and sublime – your posture; the perfect balance of being distant no matter how seemingly approachable.

All happening in winter. 

Too painful to recall…

Too painful to deny… 

I run back to the safe you that I have nurtured inside.

I remember our early stages, when you constantly referred to me as ‘the light of the dark side’ of you. I wonder… has your life become brighter? I find myself desperately seeking a single beam of light to arrive from the other side of where you could be, loyally waiting for a sympathetic messenger from the furthest ends of the unknown.

This is where I find myself yearning for you; in the stages of the ‘in betweens’. As I put one wet foot out of the shower, as the key spins happily in its lock, and through the covers of my sheets, when your pain awakens at night, as I helplessly turn from one side to the other.

Finally, overwhelmed.

I sit in your favorite chair, and I become consumed by the pain of admitting you are no longer here. If I close my eyes and surrender to the breeze, I can trick my brain into believing you are about to rest your hand on my shoulder…and I wait… any moment now… any moment.

Eyes closed… I spread my hands in the emptiness around. I could almost pull you from the surrounding air; I could almost feel you… Your smell, as if feeling my agony, rushes from the unknown distance to embrace me, like a comforting friend, soothing me without hesitance. Eyes still closed…Here you are, less than an inch away…I welcome you along with the air in my lungs… Here I am … Slowly yet steadily almost inhaling you… Almost, becoming you…

The closest I will ever experience you. 

It is almost winter again.

The clock celebrates the passing of every hour, yet it mourns in its remote echo the arrival of the 6 o’clock. A sense of betrayal sneaks upon me. I rage at the possibility of a 6 o’clock existing other than our own. Our sacred time. When you first reached to me with the shoulders of a warrior. A time where the colors of the universe shift, marking the short divine moment when the two halves of the day meet, when the moon salutes the sun with a farewell lullaby, a time when you appear.

Recalling those memories, I can almost feel your warmth around me. The objects you once have touched are redefining my new understanding of patience… the power I receive by simply remembering how you once have touched them. It seems that we are all sitting here; your favorite chair, your coffee mug, and I, are all helplessly co-existing in this room, awaiting the never returning touch, in perfect stillness.

I remain.

Dr. Sharihan Al-Akhras is the winner of the short story competition at the University of Jordan for the year 2007. She recently completed her PhD on Milton and Middle-Eastern mythology. At the moment she is in the process of co-editing a collection of essays entitled: “Women (Re)Writing Milton”. Her interests include Early Modern Literature, Middle-Eastern mythology, the demonic, Arab female authorship, East-West relations, and media.

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