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Women in Autumn

by Tala Bar

Table of Contents
Chapter 5
Chapter 6, part 2
appear in this issue.
Chapter 6: Shabat

part 1 of 2

On Friday afternoon, Lorry and Anat went together to Tiberias. He took the car this time, because Tirza said she would stay home. The wind stormed all their way, clouding Anat’s mood; she was not sure she should have left home this weekend, with the kids bound to stay indoors at their grandmother’s. Winter was threatening, and she had things to do at home, while her meetings with Lorry were growing more and more tedious.

On the other hand, staying at a hotel was always a good break from every day life; the fine room and good food soon brought back her good mood, and the evening passed good-naturedly. Making love with Lorry was still an essential part of her goal in coming.

But the next day the wind grew stronger, and dust filled the air mixed with raindrops. The lovers stayed late in bed, and when they got up the rain was pouring down. Downstairs, they found out breakfast was over, leaving Anat hungry and upset, returning to her sour mood of yesterday.

“I can’t understand why you brought me here in such weather,” she complained. They noticed the hotel bar was open and went in for coffee and cake, though she preferred whole wheat bread with salad. They could not get out in this weather for a proper meal.

“I wanted to talk to you, Anat, and you’re not exactly available these days,” Lorry answered with his own complaint. He was in better control of his mood than she was, most of the time keeping himself in check.

“Winter is coming,” she murmured.

“What’d you mean?” he wondered. She did not answer. Having removed her shoes, she cuddled up in her comfortable armchair.

“Anat, we must talk,” he began.

“Why must we?”

“You know why.” His voice was checked, as if trying hard not to lose his temper. But she felt that hidden passion inside him, which once used to stir her into action; now she was annoyed by it, wishing it to go away.

“No, I don’t know why,” she answered, her attitude cool against his heat. “And what’s more — I don’t want to know!”

But he did not listen to her any more, only to the call of his heart, and the frustration he felt when it was unanswered. “We must get married, we are so good together. Even yesterday, when you weren’t in the mood, you were wonderful. I must marry you, live with you and the kids...”

‘The kids,’ she smiled cynically to herself, ‘That’s it, then...’ “But you have a wife,” she said with some indifference to his urgency. “One day you’ll have your own kids.”

“No, I can’t see Tirza any more as my wife. She is like a lost child, and besides, she can’t have children, and she would not get treatment. I’m sure I can have more of them with you...”

“But I don’t want any more children — two are quite enough for me!” she claimed, thinking, ‘What am I, a birth machine?’

But he was not listening, talking as if to himself, “I must divorce Tirza and marry you, Anat, you’re the only one!”

“Have you ever thought about anyone but you, Lorry?” she answered at last. “Have you thought that Tirza might not want to divorce you? That I don’t want to marry you? You think you’re such a good marriage partner? Look how you treat your wife? What woman would want to marry you seeing that? And who do you think I am? Someone who falls in love just because you’re good in bed? I think you’re more of a fool than I’ve ever thought, Lorryili...” She ended with a mock affectionate tone that was even worse than open anger.

He came up to her armchair, kneeled before her and encircled her calves. “Anat! Anatili! What are you saying? You know I love you, I’m crazy about you. How can you treat me like this?”

She stretched her hand and stroked his head, his shiny hair, and she pinched his cheek. But when he rose and brought his face close to hers, wanting to kiss her, she pushed him away. Suddenly she dropped her feet to the ground and rose.

“No, we cannot go on with that. I want to go home!”

“Home? So early? Look, the rain has stopped, and even the wind has dropped. Look at the glorious day outside! Let’s take a stroll along the shore of the Kineret. I’m sure we can find an open restaurant and have lunch. There’s still time to spend before we have to go back.”

Her face darkened. “I’m going up to the room to get dressed and pack. If you want to stay, I’ll find a way to go without you,” she said, turned and went to the elevator.

“But Anat...”

She shook her head and did not answer. When the lift opened she entered, not turning to see if he was coming after her. He came in and they went up together in silence. He said nothing when she changed and packed, and when she made one or two comments, he ignored her packing his own things.

In silence they went down and gave in their key, having paid in advance; then they came out and went to the car. They put the bags behind and Lorry sat at the wheel, sitting there for a long time without saying a word.

“Come on, let’s go,” Anat said softly. It was too late now to go back, even if she wanted. Lorry started the car and for a time they rode in silence. At last she said, “We must break up, Lorry, there is no point to going on. I’ve never meant to marry you, and I did not want you to divorce your wife.”

“You led me on!” he raged softly.

“Led you on? By getting into bed with you and going for a pleasure weekend?”

“I thought you loved me!”

“Really, Lorry, I never thought you were that naive. If I had known, I’d never have come on to you! I have no intention of ever marrying again, you or anyone else. Once was quite enough for me!”

“I thought you needed support — on your own, with children!” he complained.

“Me? Support?” She laughed bitterly, recalling the support she had never received when she needed it, when she had found out who her husband really was. “No, today I need the support of no one. I’m quite able to look after myself.”

“But what about me? Have you ever thought about what you’re doing to me?”

“No, I don’t think much about the men I sleep with. Usually, they are old enough to look after themselves; they don’t need me more than for a few moments or hours of pleasure.” She reflected for a moment. “So what are you, a boy? Why do you need someone to think about you?”

She thought about the young woman he had left sitting on her own in her apartment on Shabat, waiting for him. It was not her business to worry about Lorry’s wife, but she did not think it was her task to help him betray her either. Because, in contrast to her previous affairs, here was a true betrayal, a true neglect she had not seen before. It was the first time she thought about the wife of the man she had relations with, and the thought was not very pleasant.

As they reached the narrow gully of Wadi Ara, which separated the north of the country from its center, Anat suddenly became aware of Lorry’s wild driving. “What are you doing, Lorry? Why are you going so fast on this meandering road! You’re going to have an accident!” She became alarmed when she noticed he was overtaking one car after another, not paying any attention to those coming in their direction. “You may want to have an accident,” she cried out, “but I don’t want to die yet!” She put her hand on the wheel. “I have two kids at home, Lorry, so slow down, I tell you! Stop! Look what is happening in front of you!”

The car before them swerved to clear the road for them, but Lorry had already lost control and hit it from behind. Anat pushed his foot away from the gas and pressed the brake hard, until they stopped on the margin. A couple of minutes later, Shura’s curly head appeared in the window, on Lorry’s side.

* * *

Proceed to Chapter 6, part 2...

Copyright © 2007 by Tala Bar

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