See that building up there? Used to be a match factory. The whole country’s matches used to be manufactured there, you know? With this new tunnel, the land gained value. So, they’re demolishing the factory and building project homes instead.
A lot of people living in Sariyer are retired from that factory. They still have burn marks on their hands. Some this big. It was an old factory. When filling the boxes, if a guy accidentally strikes just one match, the whole box catches on fire. Horrible burns. But the factory had a special cream. A secret formula you couldn’t find anywhere else. Ask anyone around, the miracle cream. It’s white and grainy, like labneh. You put it on immediately after the burn, heals in just a few hours. I swear to Allah. You can’t find it anymore though. Whenever there is a burnt wound, people say, "Wish we could use the factory cream."
You see this bracelet? I used to have it in gold, then I went and had it made in silver. You know why? You know Fatih? Some weird-looking people there, wearing jubba and beards. Mullahs. One day, a mullah got into my car. He sat next to me, and I asked him where to, and we were just going. Suddenly, he held my bracelet. Just like this, he stuck his finger under the bracelet, and just like this, held it between his two fingers. I felt weird, you know? I said, "What’s going on, brother?"
"Gold?" he said.
"Don’t wear this, son."
"Don’t wear it; gold belongs to Satan," he said. "It will burn you very badly in the other world."
"Come on, brother, no such thing," I said.
"There is son, just don’t wear it."
Two days later, I’m washing the motor of the car. And you see how this bracelet is a bit loose? I wasn’t paying attention and the bottom touched the differential. Then, I moved my hand, and the top touched the shaft. One has negative charge, the other positive. The gold got stuck, just like a magnet. So strong. Before I knew it, the gold turned red on my wrist. Never seen anything like it. Bright red.
I yanked my arm from the motor, yelling for an ambulance. Meanwhile, I’m careful not to move my arm, so the bracelet can only burn the same spot. Bright red—both the bracelet and my wrist. There is a doctor, Mehmet Bey, a wonderful man. I called him. So, you know what he did? I had a blister wrapping around my wrist like this. Look, you can still see. Here…and here, so he… you should let me tell it. Are you sure?
Well, anyway, I swore never to wear gold. It happened two days after the mullah. What a coincidence! It can’t be a coincidence. I don’t know if there is a real connection, but I’m being safe. I went and had the same bracelet made in silver.
Selin Gülgöz is a full time Ph.D. student in Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan, and a part time creative writer. Her writing has appeared in The Millions and Bant. She is also a cofounder of the blog, Fictionnon.