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I write while he’s in the other room. Every time I get up he looks at me and gives me a quick smile. Smiling is nice and so is raising your head, but I would rather he keep his down.
I read an article about breaking up in the time of corona. The article was published in a big American newspaper, and is written from the point of view of the woman who won’t stop apologizing as she knows that there are more important issues out there. The only bit worth reading is where she describes her six months’ relationship with Paul and the bags of rice they used to buy in the supermarket. They were ten-kilo bags, that don’t cost anything, and that she can no longer afford to get because she’s too weak to carry them up the stairs. The story ends well though. She tries to be optimistic as it means being “a good citizen lately” and she says that, eventually, she’ll find another guy to carry her bags.
It was a friend called Sarah who sent it to me. She’s a journalist, which gives her an authority on these kinds of things. I guess she expected me to tell her how deep the story was, which I would have done if he hadn’t come back into the room. I feel like bursting into tears. It’s Monday morning, normal people are working, from home maybe, but they’re working, while we smile at each other and cry. There’s also that hour every day we spend walking. In the most cordial way, we talk about our childhoods, about the weather, which is grey, and about things that are happening, like that time we saw a little white dog make a disabled child cry. There are also the meals we’re going to cook and the shopping we’re going to do; there is no one more pleasant than us.
Lately I have been thinking about my previous break up with a guy called Tamir and about our last phone call. I shouted at him that if he called again, I was going to kill him. I remember that it was a hot summer’s day, and that my landlord was on a ladder fixing the AC. He had a fat belly and a builder’s bum, as is often the case with this kind of man, and I shouted, “I’ll kill you”. Tamir knew it was a joke and so did I. Besides being tall and heavy, Tamir was a former soldier, but I meant it and he never called again, except to tell me that I owed him money.
Now, it’s different. We’ve been together three years, and Dean is thirty-one years old. He has curly brown hair and for the past two months, he has been watching television. I talked him into coming with me to Paris and now he’s stuck in my mum’s apartment, who is looking after her own mother, ill with cancer. Our apartment is in a suburb of Tel Aviv, surrounded by palm trees and cockroaches. Dean lost his job after buying himself this trip to Paris. “Talk about an idea”, he said, and he’s right. I’m in the same situation, with 374 euros in my bank account. He didn’t want to come here but he did it out of love and now we’re going to break up. Who could have predicted that a month after moving here, corona would lock Paris down? But who can predict anything these days?
Of course, there are good times. Saturday, we drank a bottle each, opened the windows wide and danced. The blue sky had turned dark, and the music we’d put on was nice – Italian songs that make you get closer to each other.
Before it finished with Tamir, we didn’t drink. We would party and take drugs and then walk home in the middle of the night. It was Jerusalem, and we were surrounded by ruins. The Muslims would be calling the dawn prayer and the Eritreans walking along in their white suits with their children who would run away when they saw us. They would go into a church above the club, and as we left, our pupils loaded, we would see them happy and singing. It took many nights to say goodbye, and for me to shout that I was going to kill him.
But Dean and I, we dance and drink. That Saturday we both ended throwing up. We threw up and then we smoked cigarettes at the window. Neither of us brushed our teeth. Neither of us cared, and we almost kissed to show it. A long time had passed since people had clapped at their windows, and the neighbors’ lights had gone off, but we weren’t sleepy. Outside, in the street, a homeless guy went past. He stopped under our window. He had a broom and lots of plastic bags and he started to piss. Dean saw it before me and told me not to look. He stared at me for a minute. Then he began talking. He told me that it was late and that we should go to bed, that maybe tomorrow there would be a flight but that tonight, there was nothing else to do, except, perhaps, dance.
About Laura Moses
Laura Moses-Lustiger is a Paris based writer who has lived, between Paris, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, cities that play the background to her stories. Many of her characters often appear to be docile and not well adjusted to their surroundings. Laura Moses-Lustiger is currently working on her first novel, which follows two young adult women spending a summer isolated together.