They walk quickly, without looking at each other. It's been a difficult day. Emin holds the woman's hand in his pocket, cold and still. Her hands is what he likes most in her: soft as snowflakes that turn into moist caresses when we touch them.
They arrive at the hotel and go up the narrow stairs. Inside, the room is warm. Too warm. There's always a pungent sweet aroma. Whenever she comes to visit, Emin fills the place with flowers. Sometimes she gets drunk with the intensity of their perfume. Suddenly, her face changes: wrinkles disappear, cheeks light up, lips open in a playful smile, and her eyes begin to dance. Every time he sees this transformation, never predictable, never the same, he's left speechless. That's the reason he fell in love with her the first night they spent together, by the sea. Emin eagerly awaits the wonderful instant when the transformation will happen, unforeseen, perchance when she happens upon a rare flower, or at the sight of a golden cloud, or as she feels the softness of a silk cushion, when she will let go of her every day mask and emerge as a Greek goddess, dazzling and unique. His desire for her has not diminished in the seven months they've known each other. Even now, although both are frighten and tired, seeing the yellow light emanating from the tulips she's still holding and reflecting on her lips, he feels the mad desire of loosing himself in her warmth, of letting go of the fear and replace it with the safety that emanates from every pore of her skin. He takes the tulips from her, leaves them on the floor, and his hands feverishly search for her breasts.
She looks at him without stopping him. She still feels ill. She felt like throwing up after seeing the man jump from the top of the Galata Tower. The incident has brought back all her dark memories, fracturing the fragile layer of calm that had been with her for the last three days. The guilt that she tried so hard to ignore--the working husband, the crying kids, the boring job, and all the rest she left behind to be with him in Istanbul--leaps at her suddenly, like a wounded animal. He leads her to the bed and she does not resist. After a while that seems to last forever, she whispers in his ear that she's tired. She knows that he needs her physically close, especially now, when he's so scared. She's not angry, but she needs rest. She must rest.
The rough morning light hurts her eyes at the same moment she opens them, startled by the voice of the muezzin. What time is it? Is it time to go? Where is Emin? She cannot hear him in the room. She jumps off he bed. Looks in the bathroom. Looks out the window. It's early; there's no one yet on the street. Only the silhouettes of the minarets, standing like watching ghosts. Where is he? Tears come rolling down, her legs fail her and she drops to the floor, beside the already fading yellow tulips. She covers her head with her arms. It's over.
Two hours later she gets into a taxi. He left his phone at the hotel. His Skype account has been closed. There is no way of knowing where he is or get in touch with him. She knew this would happen since the day they met. Emin, a Palestinian, was running from the Israeli police. He could not return to Palestine. He met her in Rome, the first place where he took refuge. Afterwards, when they were already lovers, she followed him everywhere. Always afraid. Always passionately.
She holds nothing from him: no children, no address, no ring. She has no phone number to call his mother and cry together. She has nothing. Only memories. Only the open wound of not knowing whether he's dead or alive, whether he's being tortured in a miserable prison, or whether he left because she had not given him what he needed. What hurts the most is not knowing why, or where, or how. Vanished like a dream. Leaving no open door. The gray minarets look at her with indifference, as she climbs the taxi on her way to the airport.
Translated by Lina Strenio