First Bathsheba throws open the window, letting in a cold morning breeze. As if to tell me that this is already autumn, a smell of dry leaves wafts in. The silk curtains start swishing as they sway, they billow wildly around her, blotting and redrawing the curves of her silhouette, which in a blink, brings back to me the fullness of her figure back then, when she was expecting our first child. I remember the way I held her in my arms that hot summer evening, right there by that window. Together, we looked out at the last glimmer of the sun, sinking.
I remember the way she guided my hand, ever so gently, so I could feel her skin, her warmness, and the faint kick of the baby inside her. Then the glow dimmed, it smoldered into darkness. After a while we could no longer guess the exact place where it had happened.
Now, looking at her back from across the chamber, I wonder: does she remember that moment? And if so, does she remember it fondly? Is there a glint of laughter playing in her eyes?
The rings, high up there above her head, start squealing as she slides the curtain, with a harsh movement, across its pole. A moment later she comes over here and bends over the bed, where the young girl, Abishag, lays dreaming, with her arms loosely wrapped around me.
“Get up,” Bathsheba says to her, without bothering to look at me, to check if I am awake. “I’ve brought fresh towels for you. Get up.”
The girl opens her eyes and at once, her muscles tense up. She withdraws from me and with a light-footed leap hops off the bed. I can tell she is embarrassed, because this has been her first night here, with me, and because it must be hard to decide what to do next: walk backwards from my wife and shrink away, somehow—or curtsey before her, which is an awkward thing to do when you are wearing next to nothing.
“Go already, go wash yourself,” says Bathsheba, looking at the girl with an amused, belittling smile on her lips. “You should’ve cleaned yourself last night, before coming to his bed. Didn’t they tell you?