Below is the seventh segment of ‘The Mysterious Texture of Memory,’ a new short story—based, however, on my award-winning short memoir, the ‘Sweet Life.’
I wished it were me down there, under the fountain with that mythical goddess. This fabulous creature from Rome, or elsewhere in Europe. Or from the moon, smiling on me knowingly from above. I didn’t know women like her, looking so unearthly, even existed. Or could exist. Blood was shooting madly through my body, from my heart to my head and down. I fell in love with her right then and there, not knowing her name, and forgetting all about Nechama, my elementary school teacher.
Maybe that was the reason why—a strong, sudden infatuation, feeling so very hot—I welcomed at first the shower of cold water raining hard on me. It made me feel as if I were down there with her, under the fountain. Problem was: though it was a hot early summer, the nights were still rather chilly. I was wet down to my bones soon, shivering madly, while up on the screen the man took the half-naked woman away from the fountain in his flashy sports car.
At the same time, my hold on the tin roof got slippery, and I felt myself sliding down despite all my efforts to hold on to my blanket. Not only I fell in love that night, but I fell from the roof as well, since the rope and carrots’ box had inexplicably disappeared. My coward friends, the schmucks, had taken with them all evidence when they fled.
Or the man who’d turned on the sprinklers had done that. Either way, I half jumped down, half fell from the roof, twisting my ankle badly when landing. And as I limped up to my class-house by the mountain, where King Saul and his son Jonathan spilled their blood fighting the Philistines, I left behind a trail of blood of my own, gushing down from my wounded chin. Worst of all: my wet winter blanket—my initials imprinted on it, sewed with a red thread—had remained at the scene of the crime.
From there, naturally, it all went downhill. Summer camp, with the promise of meeting boys and girls from different kibbutzim for fun in the sun, was fading out quickly. Fading in instead, threatening to bring with it only sweat and toil, was a long summer of working in the fields. Life as I knew it and loved it, was over for me.