Claustrophobic. The two of us in that tiny little merpeset sherut, service balcony. She leans against the washing machine. I smoke a joint while staring out at a tree. Clothes hanging on the line. Towels. Bats scurry in and out of the branches and swooping by menacingly.
“I had an abortion on Monday.” She says. Matter of factly.
And she could have said
“I went to Abu Ghosh and had Hummus on Monday.”
Silence. Awkward. Tension.
“Oh man. That’s fucked.”
“Thanks.” She says cynically.
But it’s all I could muster up. And I half expected her to start crying. Which would have been natural. And infinitely easier for me to react to. And I would have put my arms around her. And comforted her. But all I could offer was that stupid useless fucking platitude.
And she needed me at that moment. She needed someone.
“You’re the first person I’ve told”. She says.
And I blow circles into the cold air.
She’s a good twelve years younger than me. And beautiful. And smart. And the first time I met her was on a film shoot in the desert. At a Bedouin tent. Before I was married. Before M. And we sat off to the side in the cool air of a November night. And I felt I could confide in her. So I did. About my ex-girlfriend in Philly and the miscarriage. About my shattered dreams of fatherhood. And I cried. In front of a complete stranger. Which she was. But I’m man enough to admit that I was lonely. And hurting. And she comforted me. Even though I was old enough to be her dad.
And it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. A gesture of kindness that I have never forgotten.
And over the years she’s been an inseparable part of my life. And when I met M., she became an inseparable part of our life. Family. But not the kind you are born into. The kind you acquire over the years. The only kind of family one really needs.
And we watched her fall in love. And then heartbroken. Ad nauseum.
And when D. was born she was one of the first to arrive at the hospital. And brought him a little black gorilla that he loved. And D. would sleep with that gorilla every night of his life. Until one day he replaced it with that Ikea doll. Booba. And that gorilla just sat there on the white dresser. And every time she came by to visit him, not us mind you, him, she would remark:
“I got him that gorilla.”
And she loves D. more than anything. Which is saying a lot. Because most of our single friends stopped coming by after we got married. But not her. No, she fell in love with our little hell raiser.
“We’re gonna get married one day.” She would declare as she picked up our little man. And she meant it. Because she loves him.
Her little man.
And in those first few months, when we were overwhelmed by fatigue and anxiety, she swooped in one afternoon and stole D. away. Told us to get dressed and go out to dinner. See a movie. She’ll watch him for us. And we did. We had a lovely dinner. And saw a movie. Even though we were so sleep deprived we could barely stay awake. And as a joke she sent us this pic:
And I can count on my hand the number of times M. and I have been out. Just the two of us. And whenever we do we call on her. And she’ll drop everything she’s doing. Put her young burgeoning professional career on hold and play the part of babysitter. And take funny pics like this and send to us:
And a few months ago M.’s boss gave her a coupon for a free dinner at one of Tel Aviv’s finest seafood restaurants. One of those white linen places on the Tayelet that we could never afford. Manta Ray. But no one could watch D.
Not even D.’s favorite babysitter. His future wife.
And as we are about to cancel the reservations she calls M. and tells her she’ll do it.
And it was on a Monday. So God only knows where she was calling from. And what horrible ordeal she was about to undergo.
Thank god for M. We sat on the couch in our old living room in Ramat Gan. In silence. And she senses the tension.
And our little sister, our brave little sister tells her:
“I had an abortion on Monday.”
And who among us hasn’t made a poor judgment call after a few drinks? And she was young. Early twenties. And I spent my early twenties in a drug fueled haze of poor decisions that still haunt me.
And all I could think about was her getting that phone call from us. Asking her to babysit. Completely fucking oblivious to this poor girl’s impending procedure. And her pride prevented her from telling us. She’s an enigma. Like many artists. Locked up behind huge walls. Barriers. Impervious to anyone. Even us.
And I hugged her as she was about to leave. And made her promise to call if she needed to talk. About anything. But I knew she wouldn’t.
We sat up in bed for a while. In the darkness. Too troubled to fall asleep. To sad to talk. Comforted by each other’s invisible presence. Because life is so cruel at times. And we are too often alone in our darkest hours.
The phone rang the next morning. M.’s little sister, her real one. Biological. She was overjoyed. But, shhhhhh. It wasn’t public knowledge yet. Her third. And God please make it a girl. No one should have to deal with three boys.
And we were happy for her little sister. We were.
But it was bittersweet.
Because our little sister was still hurting so much.