Issue Monologue:

For Love
                  The bamboo whip cracks against my skin, leaving fresh slices in my back.  I can feel it digging deep into my body.  With every new slice, I turn further inwards on myself.  I look back to memories I have, trying to separate my mind from my body and escape the pain.
                  On the third crack of the whip, I take myself to the day Rayan and I met.  We had chatted online, and he wanted to meet at a coffee shop downtown that I had never been to.  When I walked in, I smelt burnt coffee and sweat, and noticed that the men were different.  Suddenly I realized what kind of coffee shop I was in, and it made sense.  I mean, now I was one of them.  But I started to worry.  Could I be caught?  What would happen if the religious police came? But when I spotted him, I forgot about rules, and just wanted to know this astonishing person.  We ordered coffees and talked about living with our secrets.  We both opened up completely and I felt like I was deeply connected to him already.
                  A man counting the number of whips yells six.  My eyelids tightly slide shut in my attempts not to move.
                  On the seventh horrifying crack, I take myself to the day I realized we were a couple.  Ever since we met at the coffee shop we would go for walks and talk alone, and sometimes kiss when we were sure no one would ever see us, but it was all just for a quick rush.  The day I realized we were together was a regular day.  We were walking down the street when he asked me to come to his house because his wife was away shopping for the day.  I understood what he meant.  I was terrified; my heart raced and my palms started sweating immediately.  Thoughts were darting through my mind; could I really do this?  How horrible would I feel afterwards?  But I knew Rayan was the person I really wanted to be with, and so I went with him.  I remember the stiff feel of the cotton sheets on his bed, the almond-like smell of his skin, the way his body glowed.  It was marvelous.  Nothing felt wrong about it at all.
                  The counter yells eleven.
                  I am determined not to cry out and to silently endure the punishment, so I take myself to memories of the nightmares.  Every night I would wake up terrified that someone had found out what we were doing that night.  I dreamt that the religious police stole him away and I would never see him again.  I dreamt that I had been the victim of the religious police, telling me I was being arrested for ‘gross indecency’.  You never know what to expect from these policemen who may arrest you, or simply let you go.  Eventually, my nightmares came to life.  They took Rayan first; he stopped answering my messages and I knew what had happened.  That moment, when I knew I could not have him anymore, I knew I loved him. 
I hear the counter yell twenty; I have endured only twenty slices so far.  My back stings like a thousand hornets are puncturing my skin with their stingers.
I have always wondered how the police knew; because no one else did.  Perhaps Rayan surrendered to his conscience and told the police.  That would explain them coming for me a week later.  I was in bed, no doubt experiencing a nightmare, when I was awoken by quick footsteps getting louder as they came closer to my apartment.  When I heard the door smash in, I was sure it was them.  The last thing I saw before being punched in the face was the love letter Rayan sent me, sitting on my nightstand.  Then I was beaten and after I passed out I was dragged into a jail.  I woke up and was told I would receive 1000 lashes for degrading the Islamic faith by committing homosexual acts with Rayan Al Harbi.
                  Now I am here, in a room with five men holding bamboo whips.  The largest is thwacking his whip over my back, one is counting the number, the others are watching.  They had me lay down on the floor and told me not to move or I would be lashed even more.  I was to receive my first forty lashes today, and 24 more sessions would occur later.  At the first two whips, I could feel each new slice.  After thirty, my back feels as if it’s on fire, but I no longer feel individual slices.  My body is screaming at me to move and escape but my brain knows that is worse for me.  I cannot handle this.  My arms, legs and face are numb. 
Now all I can think is that Rayan did this to me.  If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here right now.  Suddenly, I hate that man.  Look at what has done to me!  I should have never taken the chance; I should have been smarter.  What is love worth if this is what comes from it?  If I survive through the rest of my lashings I know I will never be able to love another man.

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