editor’s choice award

By Tasneem Fehead, Translated from Arabic by Essam M. Al-Jassim

I glance at my mother as her patience runs out, but I’m unconvinced by what I see in the mirror before me. The saleswoman tries to persuade me, going on about the quality of the fabric, the exquisiteness of the design, and how the fit matches the lines of my body and the features of my face. I hem and haw, giving a little whimper of protest and dissatisfaction.

My mother gets up and impatiently yells at me, “Do you know how many wedding dresses you’ve tried on so far? Still, not even one of them satisfies your fancy or suits your taste.”

I shrug my shoulders indifferently, cheerfully muttering, “No, I don’t know how many I’ve tried on, and it wouldn’t matter if I did. I will wear this dress once in a lifetime, and I must be one hundred percent convinced that I like it.”

The next morning, I’m lying in my coffin in another white dress. It’s a dress I didn’t choose myself, nor did I assess the splendor of its design, the quality of its fabric, or how well it suited the lines of my body and the features of my face.

Essam M. Al-Jassim is a writer and translator based in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia. He taught English for many years at Royal Commission schools in Jubail. Mr. Al-Jassim received his bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and education from King Faisal University, Hofuf. His translations have appeared in a variety of print and online literary Arabic and English-language journals.

Image Credit: “Alexandra” by Serena Piccoli