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Classified Ad for the Folded


Classified Ad for the Folded


By Banu Özyürek

Short Story from Bİr Günü Bİtİrme Sanati (The Art of Finishing a Day)

The length of this ad might surprise you. I beg you to light a cigarette and bear with me. Please. Please. I am so clumsy that I complicate everything unnecessarily. What would. . . Nope. They said “at least keep the introduction short.” I am compliant. But where do I start? OK, so here it goes, on the count of three. 

My intention is not to cleanse myself, heal, or whine. Even if there is just one person like me, who keeps getting surprised, I’d like to reach them. I cannot say I know what to do when I do, though. Holding their hand (would that be inappropriate? OK then, without holding their hand), I can say, for instance, “do you think it was the aliens?” Or “do you think it was someone? What was it?”

It’s been a long time. It is hard for me to describe what happened. I can add many details based on my imagination (as if this were not altogether an imaginary deal. But?), I can seek refuge in the necessity of creating an atmosphere so that you can visualize it. Yet, when I get carried away, I may fictionalize it a bit too much. I may drift away from facts and it (you?). The best way to deal with this would be to write what happened in a stark manner in order to meet that imaginary person in the fastest and most direct mode possible. Yes.

. . .

I haven’t been broken, bent, or folded in years.

And yet, it happened at one time. It may have been a dream or real; that doesn’t matter. It did happen. Maybe it was the aliens. Do I need to tell you that I suspected God as much as the aliens? 

At night and in bed. It never happened during the day. Suddenly, I used to feel breaking, bending, and folding. As if I was a piece of paper. At that moment, I thought I was not human anymore, but a piece of paper. It went beyond the “as if.”  But I could never figure out how I transitioned from a human being to a piece of paper. This was not something I could share with others. Maybe if we had a village idiot, but in our elite neighborhood, we didn’t have one. I couldn’t tell my mother “I get bent at night.” She would understand if I did, I know. This would be even more devastating. I was turning into paper and she got that. How sad! But she couldn’t know it. Of course, mothers understand things they don’t know. Anyway, this isn’t about mothers. No one could know. And I, the chosen one, the one deemed convenient to turn into paper, had to bend until someone said “let her go,” and not speak of this to anyone ever.

Sometimes I would wait for it. I would be terrified, but still wait for it to see when it would come and from where. It didn’t start at my feet or head. I’m not sure, but it seemed to start in my whole body at the same time. I felt lighter.

I didn’t fly, at most I would levitate. My hands were not hands, my arms were not arms, and my legs were not legs. I didn’t even have a face. God knows where my mouth and nose went. I became transparent, almost disappeared, got stuck just at that moment and started bending and folding. Thank God for that threshold that held me.

If I tried to get up, perhaps it would end, but I was petrified. Anyway, my body wouldn’t heed me because it was outside me. Even though I existed, lying there, my body didn’t. Aliens had to be involved. (God? The god of aliens?) I’m sure this was real; it was certainly surreal. If this transparency business transpired smoothly one night, they weren’t going to find me in bed the next morning. Fortunately, each time there was a hurdle that kept me from disappearing into thin air. What if I did? Where would I be? Would I know that I’d disappeared, or would I be a lost soul wandering around like the dead unaware of being dead? I was so terrified of melting and disappearing that I believed in the power of fear at that moment. I accepted my disastrous fate and shut up in order to be forgiven. 

Who folded me and how many times? Why did they stop? Did they simply give up when what they wanted of me didn’t happen? So, why did they keep trying? If I flew, would I hit the ceiling or fall to the ground? But I wasn’t flying. I just lost all sense of feeling in my limbs. I heard a slight buzz in my ears. I was scared shitless that the buzz would stay there permanently. How can you describe a folding? I wish a good orator or good writer would come up and say, this is how you do it, and I would say, “yes, that’s exactly how I got folded.” I have to take matters into my own hands about how to describe a folding. It wasn’t four times, five times. It felt forever, as if I were something infinite. That is why I didn’t know the boundaries and dimensions of my folding. I had no other choice but to surrender to it. I went to bed waiting for it. I obeyed it when it arrived. I went to pieces down to the tiniest particle. I was suspended over the bed with all those pieces. Then, I was folded the way a cloud or fog is folded. I was a child raped every night by the void, darkness, and an unending buzz. 

I could go mad. I didn’t. I could become a madwoman with her hands, arms, and face gone. I didn’t. I just endured and folded. Sometimes sharply (because we couldn’t find an orator or writer, this is me again), like when you go over with your finger a piece of paper folded in two, or sometimes like a soft sweater, folded casually. It wasn’t at all easy. You can just say it is simple folding, but no, it wasn’t easy. The worst part was that I was infinite. This was the issue, see? I was infinite, and therefore, from all sides, no, not just sides, but all around, both from inside and outside, from all nooks and crevices, maybe by aliens, maybe by God, or maybe because demons or spirits wanted to play, or maybe because some mysterious power whose name we don’t yet know wanted, maybe just because they felt like it, or maybe for some great cause, I was being folded in my bed alone at night. 

That’s it. I must shut up.  I don’t want to be a pain in the neck by constantly saying I was being bent and folded without offering a reasonable explanation, or not even telling it convincingly enough just because I can’t solve the mystery of what happened. And who knows, if I talk about it any longer, they may not even publish it.

I have just one request. If you have ever been bent or folded or broken this way some time in the past, or if you stayed very straight, but heard that someone close to you experienced something like this, please contact me at the telephone number below. I bought a voicemail machine just in case I’m not at home when you call. And just in case there is a problem with the voicemail, I also added my address. I know that if someone experienced this, they will find me. 

I am so nervous. I am not a pervert. You can come visit me. No need to be scared.

You can bring a friend if you want. We can keep the apartment door open during your visit—if you prefer, we can meet in a public place like a tea garden or café, as you wish. Please. Thank you! Please. 


Neriman Güneş
Sakızağacı Mahallesi Çamsakızı Sok. Özlem Apt. D9
Tel: 0216 337 20 72

Translated by Sevda Akyüz

About the author

Banu Özyürek was born in 1979 in Istanbul. She graduated from Ege University, Faculty of Communications, Department of Radio, TV, and Cinema. Her stories have been published in several magazines including Sözcükler (Words), Özgür Edebiyat (Free Literature), Kültür Mafyası, (Cultural Mob), Öykülem, (Narration), Edebiyatist (Literaturist) and kitap-lık (book-case). Her first collection of stories, Bir Günü Bitirme Sanatı (The Art of Finishing a Day), was published in 2015. Her second collection, Poz (Pose), was published in 2019 and received the Yunus Nadi Story Award granted by Cumhuriyet newspaper.

About the author

Sevda Akyüz studied English Literature at Bogazici University. She has taught English and Academic Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno; Bogazici University; and Koc University. She has also taught Western Civilizations, Translation, History of Drama, and Film Studies. She edits and translates books, articles, stories, plays, and poems.

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