The sound of a sliding door awakens me. The sound of a toothbrush frantically rubbing someone’s teeth propels the urge in me to move from where I am. Disguise the sounds and re-create them all together.

As I frantically start brushing my own teeth my competitor stops. I suddenly feel conscious. I move to the shower were the splashing sound of water harmonizes with the sound of my neighbour’s flushing toilette.
Contrary to the previous rush, I find myself in a pure silence that now surrounds the corridor.  A corridor floored with marble. White washed; heavy, albeit endless.
Someone joins me in the corridor singing Edit Piaff, “padam…padam”. A shimmering, masculine voice musically asks me if he can take naked pictures of me.
I freeze, you freeze…
Like a child I feel confused. I head back to the shower closet. I opt to wash my face; replenish myself altogether.
“Don’t…,” I hear from the now familiar voice. “Don’t be afraid of what is different and unfamiliar, but fear of what’s inside you.”
I’m lost for words. Words to respond. I fear my words.
Embracing the fear, my senses flow as rivers with the speed, rocks, waves, heat and colour that I am fortunate of experiencing.
Hmm… the sound of a guitar tingles my ears.
Alas, it’s a constant mystery.
“Okay, okay,” I hear come out of my own mouth. “Do it! I’ll do it. Take naked pictures of me. I want you to take naked pictures of me…”
The corridor diminishes in size. Here I look for the voice, but I can’t see it, I can’t even hear it. All I can hear is my heart unleashed from a tight knot that the image of my naked body seems to have revealed.
The strumming of the guitar persists. More. It emits the voice I am now attached to. The longer it doesn’t attempt to reply, the more the fear of my revelation flushes through me. “I shouldn’t have agreed, I shouldn’t have surrendered. I should have….”
In ghostly shades, a silhouette approaches. The music seizes. And as we meet each others’ eyes, I know  that the moment has come. One by one, I take my scarf off. I take my shoes off. I even take my glasses off. And here I stand. I surrender. The clothes hide no more.
A man, the voice, tall, with a slight gap between his front upper teeth shows a chubbier face than he has, his beard bloating his dark tanned cheeks below his droopy brown eyes. As he inspects me, he reaches for my left little finger which he holds upon his lips, lifting my presence towards his.
“Thank you,” he whispers.
He doesn’t take naked pictures of me, but he discreetly takes my shoe. Away.
I took naked pictures of myself. In my mind. And as I close the sliding door to the corridor, I know. I know that this was all an ordeal. Should it happen again, I will not freeze. Neither will you. I’d melt to the idea that it’s familiar.  The confines of fear exist no more.



Extension of free verse published in poetry book “Come-Forth”, Pantheon Cultural Association, Nicosia 2012
@Melissa Hekkers 2014

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About Melissa Hekkers

I am freelance journalist and author, who has frequently been featured in mainstream news outlets and other publications in Cyprus. Recently, I've been focusing on developing my writing, promoting my own books and teaching creative writing to children and adults. My most recent publication (2020) - Amir's Blue Elephant- pushes the boundaries of creative non-fiction, and recreates the moments that marked me the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus. In 2018 I published My Capre Greco Mandala which is the third in a series, an interactive colouring book about the biodiversity of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus. My Akamas Mandala, the second in the series, is a colouring book inspired by the variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Peninsula. In 2016, I published My Nicosia Mandala, the first of the above series, an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia. I also focuses on silenced communities in Cyprus: I writes about migrants and refugees, both as a reporter and a features writer; I profile them and teach them creative writing skills. In 2007, soon after graduating with a Communications degree, I published my first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled Crocodile, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. In 2012, I launched my second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (in English and Greek), using an experimental approach to literature, for which I was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. My third, similarly well-received children’s book was Pupa (Greek and English), published in 2014. In between the last two books, I published my first free-verse poetry book entitled Come-forth. In 2019 she was contributing author to the anthology Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, published by Saqi Books, London