Here, on my ear, I can feel the tickle of her curl, which must have slinked out of the towel wrapping her head. And I can smell the scent of shampoo as she leans closer to whisper, “Get in.”
In confusion I whisper back, “Get in—what?”
“The tub,” she breathes in my ear. “What else?”
Which leaves me speechless.
She goes on to say, “I filled it to the rim for you. And the water is still warm—why let it go to waste?”
And with that, she lets go of me and runs barefoot across the surface of the roof, hanging the large Egyptian towel over her shoulders so it flares behind her as she goes. A minute later she disappears down the shadow of the staircase.
I have no idea if she has been playing with me. Perhaps she is simply frugal. Water should not go to waste in a desert country like ours. But this I know for sure: the last thing I need is a hot bath. A cold shower is more like it.
On my way to leave this place I pass by the tub. My nostrils flare in an anguished attempt to take in a last whiff of her scent. Finding myself in an unfamiliar mood I come to a stop, and lean over the rolled porcelain edge. Soapsuds swim sluggishly to and fro. I wish they would cover the entire surface. I don’t want to spot my face down there.
I am afraid that the water may mirror to me that which I don’t wish to find. Youth is nothing but a burden. What is my life if not a bubble, shimmering for an instant and then—pop! It is gone...
Lord, I whisper, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath…
Underneath me is a darkening sky, cast back from the surface. Clouds are rippling around the crowned outline of my head. Upside down, am I still a king? Perhaps I am: a king afraid of reflection. Afraid of the magic it holds. Afraid of its distortions—and even more, of its truth. Here is my fate, written on water, encrypted in reverse.
And it is then, when I meet my eyes, that suddenly I catch a glimpse of who I am. I am a mortal, and my future will be quick to dissolve. My face is already wrinkling, rippling across the surface.
This moment never happened, because luckily there is no one here to record it, so no one to splatter it over a scroll of papyrus, and make a sensational, scandalous story out of it.
No one will ever know about my little indiscretion but the two of us. From now on I must guard myself from her, because she knows me, knows my weakness.
“I am still in awe just how much there is to the story of King David”