Between the seven-hour loop.

Dhania Albani
3 min readMar 21, 2022
Photo by alexandru vicol on Unsplash

The woman could not recall when was the last time she truly appreciated the dawns. The exuberant feelings of waking up at five in the morning out of voluntary reflexes, minus even the slightest desire to crawl back under her well-woven linen blanket, immediate joy dispersed quite evenly throughout her being, and just an overall positive outlook about how her day is about to unfold.

Recent 5 AMs always bring something to look forward to for her, no matter how peculiar, uncanny, or trivial the reasons are. There is always a certain hope she brought along before every sleep — wishing that she would wake up to another reciprocated warm gesture that she had provoked earlier —

even if it’s a virtual one. At least until its due, where time and distance would eventually collapse for these two, and perhaps by then, they’d get to find out each other’s iris shades without having to inquire the question awkwardly.

But these dawns are nothing more than a borrowed time, frankly. How long it would persist remains unknown, how far it would unfurl remains unrevealed. It is only fed off by the mutual conscience that for something potentially so transient, this could’ve been a perennial, treasured memory for both. And to her, this is the best part — for the woman is incapable of anything more than what it already is, for a whole lot of reasons they both understand far too well.

The man had waited for the world surrounding him to fall asleep soon. In the last seven hours, he had wrapped up yet another tiring day of supporting capitalism for the sake of life survival, heating his leftover shepherd’s pie for dinner, cleaning up his four-legged furry child’s litter mess, skimming over several news headlines of mostly reminders of why the world could possibly never become a better place, and most notably, looking forward to an unplanned new routine he’d been running into in the past few weeks.

These hours that preceded midnight normally consisted of all things random, or boredom altogether. Video games, TV shows, podcasts, non-fiction books in his Kindle, or nothing at all. But for once, there was this consistency that came out of sheer serendipity. And certainly, the very opposite of boredom as well. His new friend always seemed to know what to talk about, what to offer, what to hold back — enough for him to keep getting pulled further by her gravity, into a world of all things unprecedented, a personality undisclosed.

In her sentences, the man always finds an amusing amount of simultaneous elation, hesitation, and most of all, carefully calculated acts and dictions. The woman makes occasions as mundane as having a conversation feel both intimate and tensely guarded at the same time. For every welcoming gesture she offers, there seems to always be a pang of underlying guilt, or doubt, or even shame, that he cannot even dare to translate further.

Let me help figure this out for you, the man kept wondering to himself, but the words were never uttered.

Two phones at a distance far too large ring, a minute apart — two holy names were displayed, one biblical, the other quranic.

Their coexistence has always been somewhat confusing indeed.

Her good morning was delivered to a place besieged by a starless, pitch-black sky. Thousands of miles were once again brought closer by a string of words.

The man said it had been snowing again over there, while the woman was busy opening all her apartment windows, for the monsoon heat and humidity that were trapped inside all night long had felt a little too overbearing.

Tap, tap, tap. Insert giggles and smiles. Maybe laughter. You don’t have to hold back — in this room, we’re each other’s safe space.

Less than an hour elapsed before the interaction reached its due.

The woman smiled, happy that the conversation set in motion the mood she needed to continue with a very long day in front of her; so did the man, glad that the brief routine once again brought along the bizarre comfort that would keep him tucked in his bed safely and soundly all night.

See you when the seven-hour loop restarts itself.