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Transformation

Congratulations to the winner of the Your Story, Our Illustration Giveaway! "Transformation" is a figurative story about feeling trapped due to being bedbound with eczema. Sometimes we just want to spread our wings and fly away.

Pain says, “I will prey on you this day. And the next and the next. Eventually you will be mine. I have all of eternity. Why fight? Why bother?”

"You try not to care, but you do, and that's alright," the voices say.

Her faceless visage peers at me with a luminous glow, as she drifts from wall to wall, echoing my thoughts.

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"Alright, not alright," she murmurs.

"The stares hurt," I say.

"More than I hurt you?" She asks, dancing around the pole of my bed.

"They make me inhuman," I said.

"Inhuman," she repeats, and her face crumples and shifts into a mirror which shows my skin flaking off into a million pieces. That's right, I'm not human, I'm breaking apart.

I thirst for freedom

I hide under the sheets, counting backwards from 99. 99, 98, 97. 89, 88, 87. When it gets too hot to breathe, I emerge, wincing as I lift my chin.

At this point, the sun has begun to come up. The curtain edges blooms gold, and so do the outlines of the wounds on my wrists.

In the midst of the burning that ebbs and flows off my wrists like a sea of fire, I doze off.

I dream I am sitting in bed with my husband.

“I miss skating,” I say. "I don't know when this will end."

“We can’t tell for sure,” he says, “But what I do know is that I’ll be here by your side, and I love you.”

"I know."

"Is it not enough?"

I can not say I do not want more. I thirst for water. But most of all I thirst to stretch my limbs and be free. I huddle instead in the dark where I cannot see myself. If I cannot see myself, then Pain will not see me.

Days and nights pass

Days and nights pass, the curtain blooming gold with dawn and falling still with sunset. The streets of Istanbul may be crowded but I do not know that. I have been bedbound for a month. I can only lie alone in the dark. The birds tell me what time it is. Between 3 and 4 AM the sound of a crow pierces the darkness and at 5 the seagulls start their concert. I think of the sea nearby. I imagine their sleek bodies swimming through the wind, their bellies lifted by the breeze. Their feathers are soft and cool like my thoughts. I fall asleep.

Moving in slow motion

When I awake, I prepare to travel out in the city to do an interview for my visa. The bridge from the Asian side to the European side is full, the taxi driver says. I follow my husband to the metro station. He says something to me but my brain is fogged. His mouth is moving in slow-motion, and the sounds are disconnected from their movements. I try again and understand we are turning around; we've gone the wrong way. The umbrella over my head covers me from the sun. I wonder if I appear timid and shy.

"Where's the strong, independent woman now?" the voices ask.

My outstretched wings

The train is open. I sit on the seat and smear lidocaine ointment on my foot, relief found in the air-conditioned cabin. Pieces of skin fall, yellow and brown with dirt. The train floods with people. I put my foot back down and count backwards from 99. 99, 98, 97. 89, 88, 87. My husband asks me to move a little. A child stares at me and hides behind its mother. I look at my hands and cover them with my sleeves. I think of seagulls and count. 86, 85, 84. I'm standing on the Golden Horn high above the city. 84, 83. Lifting my feet and tucking them under my belly. Jumping. 82, 81, 80. I'm gliding over the blue water, my wings outstretched and warm, as kissed by the sun as the golden domes of the mosques. Free.

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