A Message from the Lady of the Sea

Juliyana Beach, Benghazi, Libya

I was in a café admiring a glorious sunset over a calm sea. Most of the people who had come to spend the day at Juliyana Beach had already left and I could just lean back and enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings. The smell of grilled fish wafted out from the neighboring restaurants and through the café’s old wooden-framed windows, even though there was no wind blowing that day. I was reading a book about Libyan history, while listening to the classical music drifting from the café’s speakers. Suddenly, I came across a paragraph that caught my attention:

“Legend has it that the Juliyana Beach owes its name to the older daughter of the English consul Libya had in 1850, who, apparently, was a spoiled blonde of unparalleled beauty. When she was just seventeen years old, she went out for a swim in the sea and drowned. The beach was renamed after her to keep her memory alive.”

It was already night—and a rather dark one at that—by the time I set out to return home. I decided to walk, in order to have a chance to confer with the sea on how to steal beautiful stuff and get away with it.

At some point, I started feeling tired and I lay down on the sand, which had retained the sun’s warmth. I then went on to count the stars in the sky, my eyes closed and I fell asleep.

Suddenly, I was woken up by the gentle brush of fabric on the bare skin of my legs. I looked up and saw a beautiful tall blonde girl wearing a translucent white dress. She fit the history book’s description of the mythical chick who drowned at sea to a T. She smiled at me, then turned around and went into the water. She didn’t even bother to take her clothes off. She continued striding forward until it was just her head peeking out of the water, at which point she waved for me to join her in the ocean. Without waiting for me to make up my mind, she started swimming out to sea. Admittedly, I felt tempted to accept her proposal, but decided to decline it at the last minute. I wasn’t ready for such a huge commitment.

However, right before disappearing out of sight, she started screaming for help, “Don’t let me drown again! I am the love of your life, Juliyana, Benghazi, the ground under your feet!”

I hurriedly took off my clothes to jump into the water. However, as I tried to run towards her, I realized that I was unable to move. While struggling to keep her head above water, she cried, “I beg you! Don’t leave me here to die! You are my only hope! Call for help! I am counting on you!”

That’s when I woke up. It was still nighttime, the tide had risen and waves were lapping my feet. I stood up and took a look around me. The beach seemed empty. I sighed. Juliyana’s words were still ringing in my ears.


Written by Moutaz Ben Hamid.