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Women in Autumn

by Tala Bar

Table of Contents
Chapter 5
Chapter 6, part 1
appear in this issue.
Chapter 6: Shabat

part 2 of 2

Having gone early to bed on Friday night, Tirza stayed late in it on Shabat morning. Idly, she started removing her pajamas, standing in front of the long mirror, staring at her naked body. It looked elegant though not quite pretty, thin, with long legs and small breasts, her skin smooth and shining — she could have been a model if she had been interested... Her short-cut hair emphasized the cute structure of her face, with her large, dark blue eyes showing up in contrast to her pale skin. Tirza twisted her shapely pink lips against her reflection, as if scorning that lovely look that hid her true nature.

She passed the palms of her hand over her body, slowly, deliberately, gently touching the secret places in her body. She yearned for Lorry’s experienced, knowing touch, but did not know how to assuage that yearning in his absence. Lately, he had become less patient for her wishes, as he used to be. She could have stirred herself, but did not want to. They belonged together — why wasn’t he here to do as she wished, as he had always done in the early years of their marriage. The only thing they did not have together was a child, and she secretly felt that this had left him unfulfilled. But she did not know for sure, because they had never talked about it. She stroked her flat belly, imagined it filling with a fetus, a child that would dwell inside her body, under her heart, under the protection of her love. But she also did not wish to find out whether it was her own lack or Lorry’s that caused this emptiness in her life.

At last, she put on light houseclothes to fit the warmth in the flat; she entered the kitchen, made herself and ate a light meal. Going back to the living room after washing up, her eyes fell on the telephone and a secret wish awakened in her heart. At last she picked it up and called her home village.

“Little Sister, how are you?” Hagai answered. She hated that kind of nickname her brother had given her, but she never told him. Now she asked, “Can I speak to Ofra?”

“Hi Tirza,” her sister-in-law said, “How’re things. What are you doing?”

“Hi Ofra, how are you? How is the pregnancy going?”

“How’s Lorry? What are you doing today? Going anywhere?”

“Lorry isn’t home,” Tirza said darkly.

Ofra laughed, as if it was a joke. “Again gone on business? You don’t think he’s playing around?”

“It’s not funny, Ofra, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Tirza, You don’t mean that!” her voice was full of alarm. She did not like family problems, and there had never been a divorce in their family.

“I do, though. I don’t think he’s gone on business — he has someone, I’m sure of it.” With the last statement, the tears came to her eyes. Now that she had managed to say the words, the deed seemed even more real than the thoughts.

“With whom? You know?”

“Not exactly, I only suspect — someone in the office. But I’m not sure and I don’t know how serious it is.”

Ofra was silent for a while. From a distance, Tirza heard her brother’s voice, but not his words. “Not now, Hagai,” Ofra said to him, then returned to Tirza, “What could you do?”

“I don’t think I can do anything before I know for sure,” Tirza replied, beginning to feel sorry she had shared her problem with her sister-in-law. She preferred to solve her difficulties by herself, if she bothered to solve them at all. Most times she left them unsolved, letting them weigh on her heart until they vanished by themselves, forgotten from her awareness, pushed down to the back of her consciousness.

“It might go away by itself,” Ofra tried to encourage her. “Men need sometimes some entertainment, you know, so it’s probably not serious. I’m sure Lorry loves you as much as ever.”

“You’re right, Ofra,” Tirza said after a moment of reflection. “I’m sorry I bothered you with my troubles, when you need all your strength,” she apologized.

“Don’t be sorry, what are relations for if not sharing things with them,” Ofra said, half meaning it. “You can always call, and I’ll always be here to listen.”

“Thanks, Ofra, and give my love to Mother, I can’t talk to her today.” She put down the phone, went to the living room, put on the television and stretched on the couch. Soon she fell asleep again, dreaming out her problems but leaving them to accumulate, becoming her habitual company.

* * *

Shura’s family — Maya, Matan and Galit — were going on a visit to a kibbutz in the north, where Shura had grown up with an adopted family. They were coming back through Wadi Ara when their car was hit from behind by Lorry’s.

“Everybody’s all right?” she asked when she stopped, looking at the rear seat. “Galit, Matan?”

“We’re all right,” Galit replied with a shaking voice. Matan had made a weak sound and stretched his arms, but the girl said, “He’s just a little shocked, I don’t think he’s hurt at all.” Galit undid her belt, took the child out of his seat, put him on her knees and tried to calm him down.

“Maya?” Shura asked. The young woman shook her head, dumb. “I’m going to see what’s in that other car,” Shura said. She got out and went over to the other car. It was standing still behind hers, and no one had come out of it.

Galit, following her mother with her eyes, saw her bending over the window, as if talking to someone. Suddenly, the door on the other side opened and a woman came out. Shura straightened and talked to her, and the woman bent to say something to the driver. Both women then came to Shura’s car.

“This is Anat,” Shura presented the woman. “Can you make room, Galit; she’s coming with us.”

Galit put Matan back in his seat and made room for Anat. Shura returned to her seat, closed the door and started the car, getting it carefully back to road. They continued their drive with no more incidents. They first took Galit home, then Anat, and at last Shura, Maya and Matan went back to their apartment, full of impressions of the day to express during the evening.

* * *

Lorry reached home after the sun was down. Almost having an accident calmed him down, and he continued on his way with a bitter heart but an empty mind. Tirza was not in the living room when he came in, but he heard the sound of water in the shower. He entered the bedroom, stripped and went to the bathroom.

His wife stood with her head under the stream of water, her eyes closed, giving herself in to the flow on her body as she often did. He came up to her and took hold of her body, and she clung to him without opening her eyes. He heated up at once, and she was ready for him. Their bodies joined together and they coupled standing up, as they liked to do at the beginning of their marriage, but had not done for some time now. They rinsed and soaped each other, caressed and cuddled together as proper lovers who would not be separated. Only when the water began to cool they shut it off, dried up and went together to the bedroom. They got dressed and went to sit in the living room.

Lorry went to the kitchen to make coffee, which he brought to the living room with some sandwiches and cookies. They sat close together, eating and caressing, drinking and kissing alternately.

“So, where were you, Lorry, please tell!” she said. He sometimes told her stories from his various meetings, and she never knew what was truth and what fabrication, nor did she care. She simply loved to look at him while he was telling her about his true and imaginary adventures, his eyes shining, his hair standing on end, his hand roving on her body, which lay on his knees.

This time, however, his story was strange, truth more terrible than any fabrication he could invent. “I went to Tiberias,” he said.

“And whom did you meet there?”

She expected him to say such and such man, with such and such character. Instead, he said directly, “I met no one. Do you recall Anat?”

“Anat? The one I met at Ariela’s, with the two children?”

“Yes, but without the children. I went with her.”

“From the office? You had work for Shabat?” He could not tell whether her naivety was real or made up.

“We did not go to work. We spent time together.”

“Spent time together? I don’t understand.”

“We made love. As in Eilat last week. As many evenings in the last weeks and months. We’ve been lovers since spring.”

She straightened, got away from him and looked hard at him. “Anat? You’re not kidding, Lorry?” She did not understand the point in such a joke, but then, she had never really understood him.

“How can I kid about that? I was in love with her, I wanted to marry her!” he almost shouted the words, baring his soul in a way he had never done before.

“Marry her, Lorry? How can you say such a thing after what happened in the shower? Don’t you love me?”

“I love you, Tirza. But I’ve fallen in love with Anat and wanted to leave you and marry her. Don’t you understand?”

“No,” she replied, candidly. “You’re talking in the past tense.”

“That’s because she rejected me, she does not want to marry again. I don’t think she loved me as I loved her.”

Tirza fell silent, pondering, her heart shrinking. Slowly, her world was gradually crumbling to pieces. She sat stunned, not knowing how to react to such sudden, odd, threatening information.

Lorry pulled her to his side again. “Look, Tirza, it’s all over now. I’m back with you. And perhaps we can find a way to have a child. You have to undergo treatment, you know. So we won’t be on our own in the world, won’t get bored with each other. We’ll have something to love, something for our marriage to be about.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lorry. One moment you tell me you wanted to divorce me, and the next you’re talking about treatment, about having a child so we don’t get bored with each other. I didn’t realize I bored you, Lorry...”

He did not answer, sunk his head in her lap, encircled her body with his arms and her legs with his legs. She caressed his hair absently, her reflections far away from him. She’s not Anat, he thought, she’d never be Anat. But perhaps — he did not know what that perhaps was about and what it portended. Tirza relaxed, and they stretched on the couch, twisted together with a sense of maximum physical closeness, and a complete spiritual separateness.

* * *

To be continued...

Copyright © 2007 by Tala Bar

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