It’s very quiet now. No bombs, gunshots, nor screams. I don’t feel anything, though I have been desperately waiting for this moment.
Mom used to sing me lullabies to keep nightmares away from my pillow. Nightmares have vanished, so has Mom’s syrupy voice.
Lily, the friend who shares this tree house with me, the only memento I have of my family, keeps telling me stories about fairies and Neverland.
“Lily, be realistic. Neverland has never existed.”
I said that once, after she started talking about a fairy called Sam. I felt she was carried away more than usual. She acted as if I had said nothing.
“Sam wants to see you, run!” She said.
I couldn’t argue because telling her that again would have crushed her last ray of hope for a better future. I know that feeling very, very well.
Dad once whispered in my ear that whenever I feel bad, or miserable, I can whisper his name, and he, without a doubt, will be beside me. I did. I called his name a thousand times a day, but no one came. No one answered.
I detested myself, because I had not tried to call his name before he, Mom, and all my friends had vanished into thin air.
Lily tells me about her adventures with her brother every morning.
“Last night we flew and saw the city from above. Everything was silent and we counted the stars … until we fell asleep on a cloud.”
“Those are mere dreams, Lily. For God’s sake, can’t you for once think of how impossible this is?”
“No. He told me he can only come at night when no one can see him, or he could not come at all!”
Arguing with Lily is pointless, but one day she will understand, for I was a believer myself, just like her, until war absorbed all my faith and left me hopeless, miserable, and empty. It actually took time for me to surrender to despair.
But sometimes, when I get up in the morning and watch the sun rising up in the sky, a ray of hope creeps up, and a furtive smile spreads on my lips.
Today, that feeling was stronger than usual, and I felt a weird sensation in my heart. I climbed up the tree and woke Lily up. She shrieked and started rubbing her eyes.
“What’s up?” She asked in her sleepy voice.
“It dawned on me, Lily, that… that you were right! You are right!” I yelled, shaking her body.
She smiled, and with a gentle voice she said:
“I knew it all along.”
This story was written shortly after the 51-day war on Gaza in summer 2014, in an attempt to “hear her inner voice that is still full of hope,” says Doaa.
Doaa Mohaisen, 19, a third year student at the Islamic University of Gaza, majoring in English Literature. She is also interested in psychology and she loves languages. “I once tried to learn French, but one of my character flaws is how easily I get bored, which is why I dropped it months later and started learning German! I’m chaotic and too hasty!”
Doaa wishes to travel to Italy and eat Italian pizza, “Gazan pizza is nothing compared to Italian pizza,” assures her her sister, who had traveled to Italy. Doaa also wishes she could attend a Broadway play. “I printed a picture of the theater and hanged it on my wall. It makes me feel I’m getting closer to achieving some of my dreams. I want to see it snowing and raining in summer. I want to have my own copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I want to climb a mountain and to start my own book about my crazy adventures. I want to fall in love, too! I want to try everything weird and to visit Corvo Island in the Azores, Portugal. I want to visit the Trevi Fountain, throw a shekel and make a wish. I’m sure no one has yet thrown a shekel, the Palestinian currency. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter especially in my hour of need, to escape reality and exams. I’m a cartoon addict, too! I like reading much more than writing, for reading has saved me in the darkest moments of my life. Writing does too, but just not like reading.”