Blasphemy by Hawra’a Khalfan

A journal entry on feeling stagnant:

It is blasphemous for me to feel this way. It is blasphemy to nudge the world with my thoughts by putting them on paper. It is a miscarriage of ideals to almost be as good as I want to be. I feel as if I might as well have been born still. I feel nothing but friction, vibrating back and forth but never going anywhere. I feel like I was born to stillborn parents, never having learned anything from their mistakes. I feel as though the world owes me everything and nothing. I feel like I am an intrusion. A peculiar future death waiting to happen. I feel as though the only purpose I serve is to give the race less air to breathe, less space to live. I am a living cultivation of what it looks like to ungrow, to unthrive, to be still.

Blasphemy by Bader Shehab

It’s quite often that I pluck the burning cigarette onto the curtain cloth, it’s a bad old habit. But you know what they say: “old habits die hard” or something of the sort. Pease, leave me a receipt after I check out and I’ll have your curtain replaced.

You know what… I have been on a bit of a bender as of late; in and out of motels and moving state to state. Sometimes I’m not sure if I am entrapped in a fight with time dimensions. I can almost see my past when I exhale the smokey hallucinations. I could feel the joints in my wrist, twist and bend and flex to the paperweight of my Marlboro. Continue reading

Purulent by Hawra’a Khalfan

A journal entry on the postpartum period:

What they don’t tell you when you’re about to be a mom is that it takes a while for that tsunami- over the moon- head inside out- intense motherly love to kick in. I remember the exact moment it kicked in with my daughter. Before that moment, I would still do everything I had to to nurture and sustain her. I clothed, bathed, nursed her. I didn’t sleep or eat properly. I fully came second and she was the most important thing in my life. But what I felt wasn’t love in the beginning. It was a need to take care of this little tiny thing I birthed. So I nursed her on demand, often meaning I barely slept. I worried about her nonstop; is it too cold? too warm? is she clean enough? full enough? healthy enough? safe enough?
This continued for two months. When she screamed I ran to her, when she cried I felt guilty and made a pact to myself that I would never let her cry for as long as I exist (she cried again 5 minutes after I made this pact). I felt like I had this fog which persisted and followed me everywhere. It was in my brain, consistently. It was like a purulent infection of the mind, consuming who I ‘was’ and oozing this layer around my brain. I was not myself anymore. I could not think straight. It was predominantly caused by lack of sleep. But there was this other side to it, where I knew I wanted things done a certain way and as the mother, I had to be the one to do those things that certain way. Continue reading

Purulent by Bader Shehab

I can feel my whole bodyweight on my 10-ounce gloves, the blood… the blood feels cold, little cherry-red drops mixed with sweat authenticate on the wrist wraps. I find my bearings and barely grab a hold of my fallen mouth piece.

“Get up… get your ass up, champ!” I turn and, as if time had slowed down, make out the blurring figures of my uncle and coach yelling and slamming their arms on the canvas.

The crowd, thousands of them, their chants and screams no longer audible in my ringing eardrum – I could barely feel my legs. The fingers in my gloves tighten into a fist and I assume a fighting pose almost instinctively. Like a wounded bull, I take a few drunken steps closer towards my defeat… Continue reading

Body of Water by Anusuya Mukherjee

She was Juvia and he was Ares. Juvia would always return to her source, the body of water and Ares to war, his source of chaos.

She stood by the body of water, exhausted. It was long overdue and she knew it. She had finally stood up to it, stood up to the pain, stood up to the abuse, enough was enough! She was done. The tears had been shed, the pain had crossed its threshold. She was finally, finally free! Oh, and that freedom swept through her veins like the ocean hit its wave on the beach. Sometimes slow and steady, sometimes violent as her heart beat faster. Continue reading

Dream by Bader Shehab

This one time my friend Anas and I were hanging out and we decided to try this new Pizzeria place that just opened. I remember ordering a mushroom and margarita, we had it and it was great – so great in fact that we ordered another pie and by the time we were done with that one we were full, stuffed! We then went to the arcade played some games and we both called it a night it was too late to do anything else anyways. But, I remember going home and feeling something funny in my tummy – it was a little bit of an ache followed by dizziness. I tried some herbal tea because I thought it might just be indigestion, but it didn’t do anything. But soon after the tummy pain subsided I felt the dizziness get stronger – and more “spinney”. My head was spinning in circles and I tried sitting on my bed, but I couldn’t find it because the whole floor was going around me in circles. My tongue got heavy couldn’t utter a thing and then I just passed out on my bed – everything went dark…  Continue reading

Superpower by Fahd AlSaleh

I can’t remember what happened. I can’t remember who I am. Where I was. Nor where I am now. All that I know it is dark. Pitch black darkness. I have my eyes wide open, yet I see nothing. Not even my own hands. I try to take a step, but my feet are stuck under some kind of mud.
I wiggle them out and slowly start walking with hands held as far front as I can. The only thing I feel is the squishes of my feet. Nothing else. I continue onwards not knowing where my path is leading me. Suddenly, Something ever so faint brushed against the tip of my fingers.  Continue reading

Scar by Fahd AlSaleh

Merriam-Webster defines a scar as a mark remaining on the skin after injuries have healed. I can spend days explaining the pathophysiology of wound healing. How after a wound happens platelets aggregate and activate a cytokine response that lead to the formation of a fibrin plug that later changes to metalloproteases which in turn forms a mesh of endothelial cells and collagen ultimately leading to the formation of new skin. I can also explain how this new skin’s characteristics and basic cellular composition differs from normal skin, hence we get the visible scar. But we’ll skip that for today.  Continue reading

Flesh by Fahd AlSaleh

They lived in harmony. Each had their own task. Did it to perfection. Were granted their needs. Nothing more. Nothing less. When their time came to it’s end they would give off their offspring and peacefully crumbled into non-existence. They existed in the perfect state, grew peacefully and were given the most merciful of deaths. Their world was divided into colonies. Each did a certain task. The colonies would exchange resources according to their needs. No negotiations existed. Everyone knew their role and would do what was expected of them. That was their life from inception to its demise.  Continue reading

Puppet-Blood-Lighter by Hasan Al-Hamadi

“That was a good meal”, I said, after having dinner at a local diner that has a view of a parking lot. If Kuwait is an ant colony, then ants are the restaurants and the queen is the trendy one of that time. People would wait for hours to get a Falafel sandwich that was given a fancy name, something like “Fal Rojas” or “Clair de Fal”. So, all of a sudden, this 50-cent falafel sandwich is the trend and sold for $15 as the original Fal Rojas. However, if you want the super Clair de Fal you have to pay an extra $5for the special “La Gallo” sauce which is in reality a 25-cent hot sauce giving the red rooster on the bottle a spiky hair style and a nose job.  Continue reading

Higher Power by Hawra’a Khalfan

Letter to my sixteen year old self:

Don’t let the world drag you down. Don’t let anybody tell you what you are and what you aren’t. Your mother spent years calling you beautiful, don’t let society tell you otherwise. No, she isn’t crazy. (And no, a donkey is not a gazelle in his mother’s eyes.) Moms aren’t blind, they just see the beauty in you that you haven’t learned to see yet. She’s building you up in a society that is dragging you down. You owe that woman your strength as a woman later on in life.  Continue reading

Higher Power by Fahd AlSaleh

Today I’ll be telling you the story of John. John is a newly graduated medical doctor. Like most say “Fresh Outside the Box”. He comes from a small conservative family. His father was factory worker but now retired and his mother never worked outside the house. He has always been the smartest child in his class and did very well in exams. Did so well that he got into one of the best medical schools in the country. All in all, life couldn’t get any better.

See, throughout his medical training while getting close and more accustomed to the human body, both living and dead, his core beliefs altered a little. As he saw his professors discuss the life of individuals and how they chose who lived and who did not he became intrigued. And later was drawn by its power.  Continue reading

Aftertaste by Mariam AlMutairi

The light shines through her eyes like stardust guiding the way to heaven,
She breathes to the sound of his heartbeat and everything dances in harmony when their hands clasps
She remembers how she used to be: a sweet loving girl, but now she turned into a reflection of who he is, and that made her feel safe;
If he left one day, she’ll still have him inside.  Continue reading

Voiceless by Hawra’a Khalfan

She opened her eyes to once again reunite with a world that she feels alien in. She opened her eyes with a suffocating passion towards something she can not control. She opens her eyes to find all the doors she saw in her dreams closed shut.

Forcing her already wrinkled thirty year old face into a smile. This is how I’m going to look all day. She repeated to herself, forcing an even wider smile. She almost climbed out of bed without giving him a kiss.  Continue reading

Voiceless by Merriam AlFuhaid

“Waaaaaaaah!”

Wake up, parental units. No, I don’t need my diaper changed. No, I don’t need to be fed. I’m just bored. Since I can’t sit upright yet and watch TV, looking at your exhausted faces at 3 AM is the next best thing. And let me tell you, it’s pretty damn good. The schedule is fairly predictable: First, we have what I call The Mommy Show, which is cool but it comes on all the time, and I get tired of mentally making fun of Mommy’s singing voice. If I manage to cry for 45 minutes to an hour straight, then I get The Daddy Show. The Daddy Show is my favorite because Daddy is scared of breaking babies. And let me tell you, that is fun to watch.  Continue reading

Voiceless by Fahd AlSaleh

They need to know!
(a.k.a. What’s inside the box?)

“She doesn’t need to know”, “please don’t tell him”, “she’ll get scared”, “it’s best if he doesn’t know”. These are phrases that we, as medical professionals, unfortunately hear every day. In medical school our teachings are based on four rules: autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. These are considered the pillars of medicine.  Continue reading