Every evening, when Nadia leaves to go to school and Father, tired, with a cup of apple tea and a piece of borek pastry, sits in front of the television, Amin knows that he has at least one hour to himself. One hour to be free, without having to pretend to be the good boy who always minds his father and sister. His blue eyes, usually subdued, lighten up. One hour to live.
Most days, he walks to the beach, where he can see the tiny boats that carry the tourists for their night outings. He likes to sit still and watch the gray seagulls flying through a sky with bold traces of aged gold. On the facing shoreline, across the Bosporus, the Topkapi minarets rise like in a fairytale, weaving delicate filigrees in the twilight. Here, no one sees him, no one talks to him. He doesn't have to listen to her sister's complaints nor his father's grunts, nor the shrieks of the children who harass him whenever he steps out of the house. No one looks at his face with pity or disgust. Here, there is only the sea and the sky.
The last few days, however, there was an intruder. A young woman, blonde, with big sunglasses that covered half her face. She would come and sit beside him, pulling out a cigarette and smoking it slowly, without looking at him. She seemed sad. She looked beautiful.
Today she is late. Amin knows that someday the woman will stop coming. He isn't sure whether that will make him feel better or worse. Perhaps she will no longer come.
When she arrives, he sees that her face, what can be seen under her glasses, looks happy. Her lips, slightly open, seem fuller than on other days. When she leaves, he follows her. He's never done this before. But today he doesn't want to go home. He needs the fresh air. He wants to punch the mirror. He is not a mongoloid, he is not a vegetable. He is a man. He feels trapped at home. No matter how much he cries out, no one pays attention. No one hears him.
The blonde girl stops in front of the tower. It's almost time to close and there are only a couple of oblivious tourists lingering around. At the gate, the guard lets him in without paying. He must think they are together. They take the elevator. It goes up so fast, it seems to fly. She is so pretty. And smiles. Maybe she is smiling at him? When they step out on the terrace, the cool air hits him hard. Far away, looking small, stand the Topkapi minarets. He's on top of the world. He feels his heart beating fast. He's happy. He's free.
The girl lights a cigarette as she leans on the railing. On the other side of the terrace, a man is embracing a woman with her arms full of yellow tulips. They are watching the lights glimmer in the water. Amin feels the wings of the seagulls rushing by. When he climbs the railing and lets himself fall with his arms open, no one screams.
Translated by Lina Strenio