to swim at any cost
Tonight I am escaping!
Determined and barefoot, she stepped silently, careful not to slam the house door behind her, not making any noise, not waking the others up.
I must swim, simply must swim!
Everyone is fast asleep, covered with thick blankets, hiding from the winter darkness.
But it’s cold, so terribly cold, how will I swim?
No, no, I will not change my mind; I will swim no matter what!
It was a cold night and no one could suspect or imagine that this beautiful young virgin girl would dare go out at night by herself. Their imagination took them into sweet dreams under a warm heavy camel hair quilt. The sound of their deep snoring and trembling relaxed lips, sent her out like the air blowing out of goats Sheppard’s flutes: soft, continues, warm and determine.
She ran and her feet were cold and stiff. Her black dress dragged heavily behind her, slipping over stones and sharp thorns. She ran the 3 steps down onto the beach and landed on the soft wet sand. The night was quiet, truly cold, yet calm.
Her heart was burning inside her as if consuming all her bones and lighting her blood, pouring like boiling lava. She did not know what to do.
She sat and stood up, then sat down and stood up again, then walked around and around aimlessly, her toes tossing and playing with the sand.
She bent and took a hand full of sand, crumbling and crushing it slowly, letting it fall and sneak out through her fingers back down.
Like hiding lovers we are, the sand and me, she thought and smiled;
We enjoy being together but eventually we return to our sources as if our love is forbidden. Yet we have to come back to each other, like now, in our hiding place by the sea, unable to resist our energies needing to combine into one.
But today, she continued thinking, now smiling widely; today we are going to go all the way, me the sand and the sea, all the way to the end!
Her ignited blood flooded her head for a moment and she felt her world spinning around her. Her hands clasped her face tightly, slowly bringing her awareness back to the sand the sea and the night.
Immediately the furious rolling blood within her calmed down and her heart, like a ship on the ocean, raised its sails and began sailing with the pace of the water and the waves.
It was only then that she was aware of the salty smell of the air and the aroma of the fish coming from the fishermen’s boats, prepared to go sailing towards the dawn.
While thinking of the sand the sun and the silence of the sea, she took her clothes off and was left naked like the day she was born. Inhaling deep fresh air through her nose, she took it in and held it for some time then released it out, soft and slowly, as if she was blowing it on her lover’s face.
She wanted to shout out loud – “my imaginary lover, where are you, where?
Come to me and take me to you! But she shouted silently. Her feelings, she felt, belong to her only. Her smile did not leave her or die away. Her legs pulled her into the sea into the still water. The cold of the night no longer pierced her body or her bones.
She did not feel the threat that many feel at such heavy darkness. Her nakedness was pure to her, and bright, like the shiny stars, emerging in the sky above. A light wind was dispersing heavy clouds bit by bit and she, with her soft hands, was touching her own body, caressing each part, each curve, enjoying the length of her legs, the hardness of her stomach, and the smoothness of her skin.
He will kill me, my dad, if he knew! It will be a shame for the whole tribe if they knew I was here in the middle of the night, alone and naked, making love with the sea and the night! She enjoyed these words of hers and confidence returned back to her.
Let him know, she nearly shouted it out loud, let him know how much I want to do what I am doing now!
She remembered how when they were kids, their parents, busy with their daily work, allowed them to go by themselves to play in the sea, play with the fish and watch all those half naked tourists who came to view the authentic life style they were leading there, in the fishing village. A third world culture… She hated them but also admired the young women with their golden bodies who went into the water, slicing the waves with their sleek limbs. She was not allowed to take off her Bedouin dress. You are a girl, a female, her mum told her. Girls don’t take their clothes off! As if it was clear knowledge she and the rest of the world should have known…her young and older brothers jumped and darted off into the sea, their skin directly touching the salt and the foam of the waves because they were boys and boys are always permitted to do whatever they wanted to…only she had to return home with wet clothes as if they were carrying her tears for her.
A brave realization came into her mind - all these restrictions, all that’s forbidden is now buried in my dress, spread without care on the sand!
Her naked body was submerged in the sea, only her head bobbed up and down out of the water. Her smile was becoming deeper and deeper, engulfing her face, sinking further into her body.
Suddenly terror overcame her, fighting her will to continue further in. She cannot swim!
How will I express myself and I cannot swim!
Tears were rolling down her cheeks, joining the sea to become a unit. The pain in her heart, like weights, was taking her further down under the water until her head was nearly submerged, only her eyes staring into the night.
The night, dark like coal, sat on her like a funeral scarf.
In front of her eyes, inside the darkness and the silence that surrounded all, she saw a falling star exactly as what sounded like a flock of birds rustled past above her head, and a current of warm water cut through her, caressing her thighs. At the same moment, a shoal of long skinny fish tickling her legs, passed right where her legs are connected. Her senses were enhanced, her happiness was coming back.
She untied her long plait. Her black hair, like a big wave as it hits the shore, spread over her white shoulders, floating on the water, encasing her whole body like a gown.
A big fish jumped up by her, piercing the air and returned sharply into the water.
She felt as if she had fins, and oily scales were her skin. She dipped her full head into the water and felt air bubbles coming into her nostrils, joining the route of her breath. She let go of the ground without fear and began sailing in the water, deep, deep, leaving behind her a golden trail.
How much life there is, she thought, how much movement there is in this silence, in this darkness which is not at all gloomy!
In the morning the fishermen saw the dress tossed on the sand and footprints of a young woman, leaving a trail towards the sea.
Immediately the tribe was summoned and the grief of shame took over the crowd, overpowering any sounds of nature.
It was only her young brother, who also came to identify the heavy cloth of the dress who noticed how peaceful the sea was. To the loud sound of the tribe mourning and crying, he also saw a shoal of fish leaping into the air, playing with the sea. A wintry sun was lighting up the water, gently coloring the waves with a strong shiny yellow.
One single fish penetrated the air above, flushing its long tail.
Her young brother heard the sound of the water dripping of the fish’s tail;
And he smiled.