Lies, First Person - Excerpt
You should never believe writers, even when they pretend to be telling the truth. Everything that’s written here is pure fiction.
My husband urged me to make this clear at the outset if I intended telling this story. The version he proposed was somewhat different, as a matter of fact very different, but in any case I promised him to write this introduction.
My husband Oded is a lawyer. He adores me, our children and our way of life; and I who love and respect him profoundly am ready to accept his advice, and to dispose of any doubt let me stress:
None of the characters that appear here, myself included, are real. The first person is not my person, and the events recorded here never happened to me or to anyone I know.
The truth is that nothing bad was done to anyone, and I did nothing bad and I was always as quiet as a mouse.
In short, the truth is that nothing happened at all.
Perhaps it only could have happened.
Let’s begin with a Sabbath day of unutterable sweetness. The smell of figs bursting with ripeness, in the enclosed garden of the house. Clouds sift the gold of the sun through the leaves of the grapevine hanging over our heads. Oded rolls a Sabbath cigarette from the grass he’s been growing in pots ever since our sons grew up and left home. On weekends he likes smoking a joint or two, and for me, a non-smoker, he pours a glass of wine. I roll the glass between two fingers and observe the rays of the sun refracted in the liquid red, and my husband, relaxed, rubs the bottle against my upper arm, sliding the glass over my tiger face. For twenty six years we’ve been together, and his enthusiasm for my tattoo has not waned and it seems it never will. If not for him I would have had this totem surgically removed a long time ago, because in the Garden of Eden there is no fear and a woman has no need of a totem to brandish. But Oded loves my tiger face, and I don’t want to deprive him of anything.
The Garden of Eden. A muezzin calls the faithful from inside the Old City. We don’t understand the words and we enjoy the sound of the voice rising and gathering in the distance. The golden Sabbath time stretches out around us without a point of reference—perhaps it’s morning now, perhaps it’s twilight—people whose lives are as good as ours don’t need points of reference.
[. . .]
Oded says that I brought up the rape the first time I went out with him. But I remember clearly that the subject didn’t come up on the first date, only on the third, and argue that his memory is changing the order of events for dramatic effect. In any case, there is no disagreement between us regarding the scene that followed.
I told him whatever I told him—not a lot—and then I said: “That’s it. That’s what happened. Just don’t think that I’m going to tell you anything more about it, go into details, I mean.” And he, in obvious confusion, replied: “Sure. Of course.” And then he asked me: “Why?” Because what else could he say?
“First of all because it’s my sister’s rape, not mine, okay? That’s the first thing. And apart from that . . . Never mind.”
“Apart from that—what?”
“No, tell me.”
“Apart from that you’re a man. Can you honestly tell me that you never fantasized about rape? Can you tell me that your imagination never wanted, even a little, to peep and see? That isn’t a real question, so you don’t need to answer it.”
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all. Oded Brandeis, salt of the earth, black belt in the gifted students track of the University High School, graduate with distinction of a paratrooper commando unit, volunteer in a legal clinic in the Negev—Oded Brandeis was offended.
We met during the end of the year exams, and the guy took the evening off to drive me to a spot on top of the Mount of Olives where he had only taken one girl he loved before. He brought a pique blanket for us to sit on and a bottle of white wine, and offered me the nocturnal view as if it belonged to him and he was free to give it away for nothing.
If people in this world got what they deserved he would have given me my marching orders on the spot. After jumping on him like that I deserved to have him cross me off the map. But in our world people don’t get what they deserve, and the sudden ferocity of my attack didn’t prompt him to get rid of me but somehow made me more interesting in his eyes. Later on, when he dropped me off outside my apartment next to the market, I apologized, and he accepted my apology like an aristocrat: he made the broad, sweeping gesture of a man who can permit himself anything, even a crazy woman, even though it was clear that he was alarmed. Because not only my ferocity was intimidating, but my whole manner of speech. I said: “My sister was raped and she went mad”: “went mad” I said and not “was traumatized” or “suffered a mental breakdown.”