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Today we introduce the first prize winner in our Flash Fiction Isolation series. We received a range of entries exploring our Covid-19-constricted environment – many with the expected observations, but our favourites harnessed vivid aspects of this eerie time. Over the next eight weeks we will present our shortlist and winner, and two Highly Commended entries, all supple and insightful workings of the theme. Congratulations to Marwa Belghazi, author of ‘Mimicha’, our first Highly Commended flash fiction.
Mimicha is the term of endearment I use to call my mother. It is the word I look for on my contact list everyday since this stay-at-home state of affairs. After speaking to the walls, after fighting the local cat, and watching a pigeon take his last breaths under the beak attacks of a magpie, I put the phone on speaker and wait for her to reply. No luck tonight, but had she picked up, I would have said…
Mimicha, when things are better, mama, when the lockdown is over, I promise to get on the first flight to see you. Morocco’s citizens are banned from their land and await the signal to let them back in. Every day, I wear my jabador while working from home and drown my hair in argan oil. Yet, here I am: a headless chicken with nowhere to call home.
You send me funny memes and I send you food recipes. I call you every day, you miss my calls and make me wait. Remind me again, who has given birth to the other? On Whatsapp, I read to you from a novel in Arabic and you listen with a smile while sipping your morning coffee. Thank god for our virtual and patient host. I still remember a time when every transatlantic minute of conversation left my scanty account empty and our souls still thirsty.
Tonight, suhoor time, I watched the moon and imagined you looking at it from the other side. I searched for your features in the craters of the satellite, like when they saw King Mohamed V’s face when he was in exile. Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, I have done it all, and when the blood moon is out, it makes me feel so small.
Mama, please wait for me so, together, we can go to the sea. No more battery, what was the last thing you said to me? Charging my phone every morning, plugging it again in the evening, how much power does one need to fill this loneliness with meaning?
As the days merge into each other, and the wardrobe thins into a single uniform, what else is there to do but to wait for the time of our reunion? What else is there to think about but our resilience? We have been through worse. You, I, We will survive this.
Repeat after me, we will survive this.