Berina sat on the black and white tile in her parents’ bathroom on the second floor. The bathroom, a safe space, smelled of soaps and fresh air. Above the toilet, a window had been left open. Outside, trees surrounded the house—shredded trees, as if insect-infested—and beyond it all lay empty beach. If she concentrated hard, she could hear waves over the pebbled shore.
Everyone had gone to the movies in town, and the afternoon stretched before her like unfolding limbs. She was twelve, and her parents and sisters had started leaving her alone in the house with the door locked tight. She liked sitting on the tile here, even when the house was empty, because peace rested in the walls and old sink. No one entered this space during daylight hours—everyone used the small bathroom on the ground floor—and she spent hours here, against the background of voices downstairs, touching and smelling bottles and powders. She particularly liked to sit on the tile as the day came to a close and darkness seeped into air, making it harder and harder to read the writing on bottles.
Now, as she played with the hem of her skirt, a car moved over… Read more »