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She can see only as far as her headlights, not that there’s much to see. At some point, the road becomes unmarked and lane-less, liable to end without warning. Zayna rolls slowly. Not out of care, just no longer mindful of her speed or time. The radio—on since she left Jeffeh—strains for a signal. It seems lost in static for good, but so it had countless times—always returning to a late-night call-in show that went on and on.

Artwork by Nazish Chunara

Zayna drifts somewhere between Jeffeh and Miraaz. It’s taken hours to lose sight of Jeffeh, its mess of golden veins and arteries vivid in her rearview, then hazy, then gone. The absence of its lights almost as unsettling as the loss of its sounds, its million clashing poems. Nothing replaced it in any direction. It was as if she was driving along thick black curtains that had descended while her eyes had taken a rest. 

Like most born in Jeffeh, she’s never seen Miraaz, had never thought to.

It was a rumor about an installation that had sent Zayna looking for Miraaz. Entered alone, it was said, one would experience the first moments after one’s death. No one seemed to know more than that...


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