I was dreaming of the sea again. It happens every night. I open my eyes and watch the moonlight creep across my bed with a soft lover’s caress. The sheets are tangled and fall over the bed like waves. I kick off the covers and throw myself across the bed like a beached whale.
The moonlight dancing on my bare skin makes me look beautiful. Its gentle light overlooks the angry welts criss-crossing my legs. Instead, it hovers over my belly like a benediction. The welts throb, but I have no ointments to ease the pain. But that is his intention.
I hear his loud breathing coming from the next room. Loud snuffles and snorts as he sleeps the sleep of the damned. I hear him tossing and turning. I pray he stays asleep. For a long time.
‘You will not marry that infidel!’ he’d screamed.
‘Ahmed? An infidel?’ I’d begged. ‘He is of the same religion as we are.’
A vicious fist across my mouth.
‘You will marry who I say,’ he had spat in contempt.
His eyes had turned red with rage and he’d reached for his belt. I couldn’t believe what had happened. My father had always been the gentlest of men.
‘Father!’ I’d screamed, ‘don’t do this!’
My pleas were ignored.
The hard leather bit into my soft skin. The pure force of his anger made the blows harder to bear. My heart broke afresh with every slap of the tough hide.
‘I will kill you!’ he’d screeched in his rage.
‘Mumma, help!’ I’d pleaded to the black-clad figure cringing in the dark corner. She remained silent but I could feel her pain for me.
Night after night. Night after night. The beatings continue. Only the moonlight and the night sounds are my friends. My door is bolted against the outside world. The food is passed in, served without love, eaten without relish. No-one speaks to me. I am a prisoner. Just me and the new life growing in my belly. I’m sorry.
The crashing waves are coming closer and closer as high tide is reached. Soon the water will be just below my window. I hear its relentless pummelling. The sound and rhythm reminds me of my father’s blows which continue without mercy. He will not be denied his will.
There was a big storm earlier in the night. Tomorrow there will be rubbish lining the beach below the dunes. My father will leave his bed early to collect it before the tide snatches it back again. He loves to find treasures that someone else has lost.
He will be surprised at the treasure he will find tomorrow.
The open window draws me. The moonlight bathes me. The sea calls my name.