I bring myself to breathe in her ear, “I know I don’t deserve you.”
“Indeed,” she pulls her hand back. “You got that right.”
“Kiss me, Michal.”
And with a stiff upper lip she says, dryly, “No, not tonight.”
Then she gets up abruptly, and tosses a pillow of goat’s hair into my hands, which right away makes my place utterly clear to me. I lay down on the rug, at the foot of her bed, take in the pure, pristine smell of her sheets, and pretend not to watch her as she prepares to undress.
She goes over there, next to that window, which outlines her figure with silvery touches of moonlight. With slow movements Michal unties her silk belt. Her skirt slips, it cascades down from the waist, revealing another skirt underneath, and another one under that. Lace over silk over crinoline, each layer gives out a difference sound, a different rustle as they collapse onto the floor, creating one ripple around another around her.
Standing there she looks like the stem of a flower whose withered petals have crumpled around the rim of the vase.
I glance at her as she climbs up over me into her bed and tucks herself under the blankets, and I remember what Joav told me about girls, just a few days ago. It’s all just flesh, he said, no matter how fancy their garments. In bed, they’re all the same.
I must tell him he made a mistake. This girl is different.
With her narrow hips and her flat belly, which is matched by an equally flat chest, Michal looks like a boy. And trapped in that skinny body, pounding there with palpable longing, is the heart of a woman, a proud woman, cursed with love.
Next to the wall, moonlight glances off the silk strings of the harp. Come morning, I will do her bidding. I will play for her.
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