6 o’clock

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The sun painted the sky with streaks of purple, yellow and blue.

By Dalal Awienat 

It was a breezy spring night in March. I had been trapped in my room under the sheets all day. 

After hours of scrolling on my phone and switching through apps, I gathered the strength to get up and find something to do. 

Not knowing where to go or what to do, I aimlessly wandered out of my room in search of some entertainment. A gleam of light shone through the balcony window, illuminating a path for me towards the outside world. I decided to go to the balcony to check out the sunset and get some fresh air. 

I stepped out onto the balcony; my feet pressed against the cool marble floors. A shiver ran up my spine, it was cold. I took a step forward, moving closer to the edge of the balcony and looked ahead. 

The scene was picture perfect.

The sun painted the sky with streaks of purple, yellow and blue. 

It was silent, not a soul around. 

No cars around and no one on the street. Everyone was tucked away in the comfort of their own homes. 

A gust of wind blew through my hair, adding life to what was once a still image. I took a deep breath, the cold air filled my lungs. 

I looked at the time, it was 5:30 p.m.

This was unusual. 

Normally the roads would be buzzing with life at this time. On a typical day the sound of traffic would keep me up all night. But today was not a normal day. 

It has been almost a week since our government-mandated quarantine started in Dubai. No one was allowed to leave their homes; everyone was trapped inside. A deadly virus taunted the city, forcing us all to be alone, in isolation. 

I felt a lump forming in my throat as I stared in the distance, falling deeper into thought.

“Is this how life is going to be from now on?” I said loudly for no one to hear.

This was the first time I had spoken aloud in over a week. 

It felt strange to hear my voice again. But the quietness of the city was freaking me out, I needed some comfort. 

“When will this end!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. My voice echoed, bouncing off the nearby buildings aimlessly wandering in hopes of being heard. 

I crouched down to the floor with my back against the wall. I glanced over to my watch, hoping the day would end so I can go to sleep. 

But why? 

When tomorrow comes the same routine will be replayed on loop. It has been like that for a week now. So why bother?

The time was 5:57 p.m. 

Just a few more hours before I can turn in for the night. 

I watched as a tiny ant crawled beside my foot, rushing to get home to its family. I never thought that I could ever envy an ant, but at that moment, I was extremely jealous. I was so alone, even the company of an ant seemed appealing to me. 

Suddenly, I heard a window open, the creak of its metal hinges screeched as it was being pried open. I jumped up in anticipation searching for the open window. My eyes anxiously scanned every building looking for that one window, but to my surprise, more and more windows started to open. One after the other, like a ripple effect, all the windows on the buildings were opening.

Confusion, excitement, and adrenaline rushed through my veins. What was happening? Why was everyone opening their windows at the same time? 

A loud cheer pierced the once silent atmosphere as a woman chanted “thank you everyone who is working to help us through this pandemic! You are appreciated!”  This chant was followed by an eruption of cheering and clapping from everyone who had their window opened. 

Confused but delighted, I joined the cheering and clapping, screaming in joy like my life depended on it. 

I glanced at my watch. 

It was 6 p.m.

As I went to bed that night, I couldn’t help but smile. 

I finally had something to look forward to the next day. 

I just had to wait till 6 p.m.