All About Love


What seems like a flame, passion or romance perhaps is actually love, emerging in various forms, shapes, and levels of existence. If you believe in it.




You knock on the door though it’s open. I left it open. Hoping you’d show up. Imagining you would not.

You knock on the door, and I open. You look at me behind your glasses. Your beautiful greenish eyes sparkling. Your beautiful greenish eyes dreading. I am not some person who easily fears, but this thing we have is to be feared of.

You look at me, wavering for a second. Just one second, then you make a move to come inside. One little step it is. You take that step.

I close the door. To the House. To the world. It’s only us now.



You take my face in your hands. You kiss me. Slowly. Hastily. You kiss me with kindness. You kiss me with rage. I do nothing. You are the protagonist of this story. You are the murderer. You are the saviour.  I just play along.

I open my mouth elegantly, at least I try to, though I’m hungry for you. You know you can do whatever you wish to me. I have surrendered the moment I saw you. I have been longing for you since then. Even since before I’d known you. Before time.

Your eyes catch the sight of the big building towering in front of my large window. I presume this instant you will turn your back and leave the room you entered some seconds ago, for you believe in crafted mysteries like the holy spirit. I believe in love.

But you ignore the view. You look at me. With passion. With disgust. You push me to the bed. Softly. Roughly. You take my shirt off. You are familiar with this skin. You touched it the night before. Or some nights before. This is a timeless House, so I don’t know. You sigh. You cry. Your lips find mine again. You kiss me as if you want to keep me. You kiss me as if you want to kill me.

You remove my skirt. Gently. You rip my slip. Harshly. Throwing everything on the floor. Folding everything neatly. You look at me. With admiration. With disappointment. You say nothing. You say everything.

You disclose all the secrets of my body, one by one. Lingering at every corner. Tasting every inch. Your hands are soft. Your hands are loving. Your hands are so tender it gives me pain.

You find your way to me. Into me. Smoothly. You had been there countless times. We both know it; we just don’t know when in Earth minutes. Love is transcendent you see. Takes various forms. Comes in countless shapes. There are no hours in love. No years. No dimensions. You believe in masses taking place at impressive buildings full of stained-glass windows, masses performed by those dressed in snow white surplices. I believe in love.



I expect nothing. I expect anything. From you. I felt pain the moment I saw you; I am cursed with the gift of prescience. I knew a sacrifice would have to be sacrificed, a choice would have to be chosen, one life would have to be cherished, the other to be put aside. The moment I met you, at the corridor you see. I was cleaning my room; you had just arrived with one little suitcase and a big backpack. I had my dirty bed sheets curled up in my lap, like a baby. You smiled. My heart. My heart.



In this timeless House that shelters lost souls and broken hearts, priests and dervishes, poets and writers, though we claim to be praising our own dictates of a holy spirit, we both know we are no strangers. Even if you don’t believe in other lives. You believe in heaven. Seriously my love, heaven. I believe everything happens everywhere all at once.

One might think, it was about poetry and literature, and our silly jokes with me giggling like a little girl around you, and keeping on bumping into each other at the hall or at the some-hundred fucking steps climbing uphill or in the kitchen, and drinking wine at that local restaurant-slash-bar where that tall Swedish blonde didn’t give a fuck about anyone she was supposed to be waiter-ing, and us watching dark-rock-opera-movies where the woman lead was singing and dying and the man lead was loving her and hating her but not dying. You kept reading the subtitle: nacht na nacht na nacht, remember how we laughed? The woman lead was singing and dying, and you kept saying nacht na nacht na nacht. After the dark-dark-rock-opera-movie, we were heading to our rooms when we actually wanted to head into each other, but you are faithful (both to your in-this-life-and-after-life-god, and to your the-register-office-registered-wife) so we had to take refuge in the night. I tried once again to say a proper “Öö” but I couldn’t. Your language is damn difficult. And it’s not even a word my love! Just two silly vowels, an exclamation even, but you keep insisting it means “night”. Be it then.


Some days I am still dying, my love. Singing and dying. Sinking and dying. Sleeping and dying. Still waking up to mornings that contain no-you. How our souls fitted each other like a damn old pan and a lid, how infinite joy we found in other’s existence, how endless numbers of words we shared. That was something you see, my love. But you have forbidden yourself from writing me. I respect that. I hate that. And what a waste! We could have composed a great novel together by just bundling our direct-messages and messenger-messages and you’ve-got-mails together. What a waste, what a waste. But then I tell myself, at days when I am not dying you see; didn’t we meet there on that island in that medieval town, simply to remind each other that there is love, after all.

About the Author

Short story writer, novelist, essayist, born in Turkey, living in the Netherlands, writing in Turkish and English. Çiler İlhan has contributed to 20 national and international anthologies and published three of her own: Chamber of Dream Merchants (Artemis, 2006), interconnected stories with traces of magic realism; Exile (Everest Publications, 2010), interconnected stories with themes from the invasion of Iraq to women’s rights in Batman (winner of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature, published in over 20 countries); and, Nişan Evi (Engagement, Everest, 2021), a novella based on the true story of a cruel mass murder in eastern Turkey. Her fourth book, a novel, is in print and will meet its readers this July.

Çiler İlhan studied International Relations and Political Science at Boğaziçi University in Turkey, and Hotel Management at the Glion Hotel School in Switzerland. She has worked in hotel management, marketing/communications, and publishing (as editor/writer). She’s a member of Turkish and Dutch PEN.

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