A man stands in a train station. He wears a wide-brimmed hat and a long black coat; his hair—what little peeks out from beneath his hat; one suspects he is thinning—is dark, streaked with gray, and unkempt. It runs down the back of his neck, and even out over the collar of his shirt. His face is lined with age, but there is little hair on his cheeks: his grooming is impeccable. He stands within the sight of a great standing clock, but he does not look at it.
Looking deep inside the mirror, he thinks: I am wholly contained inside my skin. His image coats the surface of his eye. He presses his elbow into his side. He squeezes his fist and wrings out his bicep. His body, steaming, stands before him in the grey, sending signals: his image back and forth between him, grey, satiated. He stretches his lips, presses his cheeks into his eyelids and sends up a special kind of prayer. You beast. He strains to call forth his deathless name: Monster. Monster.
I know we were married, but that day itself has gone from me, recently. I had it until yesterday, or the day before. It was not a space I immediately noticed. I ran through my life, wondering what was missing, and noted at length that that day was gone. Sometimes it seems there is order to the washing away of my mind, but in truth it is sporadic. I hear a baby cry. I remember the birth of my daughter, all at once, her red face.
She sat on the toilet seat to wait for the dye to set, and while she did she ran a bath to soak her feet in. She poured in mint bath salts. She thumbed through a magazine. There was a spread about women before and after plastic surgery. She no longer thought plastic surgery was vain; she thought it had to do with the autonomy of a woman’s body. She associated it vaguely with the word empowerment.
“I’m going to the Thai Market.”
I didn’t react with a start. I merely cast a brief glance at the eager visitor in the doorway of my room and nodded silently, hopefully a nod that conveyed, “Have fun.” I was sure that I had heard incorrectly; the idea of home in a city so far away from the likes of my past seemed impossible. I returned my eyes to my computer screen, continuing my fervent search for activities in which I could partake on my first weekend in Berlin. I had an especially vigilant eye for anything that indicated hints of home.
“Do you want to come along? I could really go for Thai food right now.”
I stuck pins into uncharted territory to declare it discovered in my name, retracing the map; déjà vu. It was all a journey with her, really, although I had yet to read the first page
Once, she positioned herself in her usual armchair next to the window, where her duvet retained its usual cocoon shape. She sat watching the empty street, the fence, the garden plot, the stump, the fossil. She went down the pink porch in her thin cotton socks to see the fossil.
Naomi did not want a man: she wanted a child for herself, a child raised in the city – running around in the dark alleys and playing in the lush courtyards of her own childhood, munching on sweet, warm challah from the baker on the corner and living on the fifth story…