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Invisible Mending

Ruth Almog | from: Hebrew

Translated by : Chaya Amir

In the geography lesson the teacher, Mr. Levy, was talking about the Yarkon, and for this reason Hefzibah locked herself in the Girls’ Room during the morning recess.

At the beginning of the lesson, the teacher announced that the class was going to study the Yarkon and “when we’ve finished, we’ll make a field trip to the headwaters of the river to see for ourselves how things are running.” And while the class was still laughing, and the teacher was saying that they wouldn’t be able to visit the Fortress of Antipater because the area was still mined, images rose in her mind of a visit she had made with her mother and brother to the Yarkon Hospital in Tel Aviv four years earlier, images suffused with an element of remoteness and disjunction because of some turbidity which screened them from her. They were nevertheless vivid and sharp and burdened her with painful guilt feelings. A strong light spilled into the room through the windows facing south—it was early afternoon—and the whiteness of the walls dazzled her. Because of the glare, she chose to reexamine for a moment the darkness of the night before, when she was startled out of her sleep and didn’t understand what the commotion was all about and what her father’s bridge partners were doing in the house. Later she was able to discern the doctor passing by her bed in the anteroom leading to her parents’ bedroom, and in some vague way began to realize that something serious had happened. Hefzibah asked herself if she had gone back to sleep that night and remembered that the next day the British declared a curfew, scheduled to start at four in the afternoon and include the entire country, and that before her mother climbed into the ambulance she told her that she wasn’t sure she would be back by four and that she should take care of her small brother and give him lunch. Hefzibah recalled the terrible tension which had wracked her the whole day and so she switched her thoughts back to the white room. The light that had dazzled her focused her glance on the black spot on the pillow: thin straight hair parted on the left and combed over the right temple.

“The mills on the river, Hefzibah!” The voice of Mr. Levy, the teacher, suddenly burst upon her and she turned her head in his direction. Her eyes glazed, curtained by those distant images, and she said nothing.

“Again you’re not paying attention, Hefzibah,” he chided her. Hefzibah lowered her eyes and returned to the scenes in her mind. It was in the fifth grade, she remembered, and her home teacher, Dr. Eisner, who was their neighbor and her parents’ friend, left at the end of that year and moved with his family to the new Rasco housing project on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, right next to the Yarkon. During the summer vacation, when she went to visit him with her little brother, the bus took them past that same hospital and she remembered being struck by some kind of momentary fear which froze the flow of her exhilaration. The family was happy to see them and Dr. Eisner, her former teacher, took them and his own children rowing on the Yarkon. Her brother was very frightened and wouldn’t let go of her hand.

Esther Strauss, who was her best friend and sat next to her, nudged her suddenly and she heard the teacher ask: “Have any of you ever gone rowing on the Yarkon?” But Hefzibah didn’t raise her hand, and her eyes went back to the glaring light, to the dazzling whiteness, and she remembered how frightened she was of looking at him—he was so strange and unfamiliar, covered up to the neck with a stiff starched sheet, his head on the pillow: the black spot where his hair was and his white face with a bluish hue on his cheeks. Hefzibah clearly remembered that she had been more interested in the good-looking boy lying on the next bed than she had been in her father, and her pencil sketched the memory on the piece of paper on her desk: a room, a row of beds, a head on a pillow. Only the face escaped her and she couldn’t understand how she had forgotten it so quickly—after only two weeks—and she asked herself why the features were so blurred: the eyes, the nose, the lips, the wrinkles—everything had been sucked into an elliptical void resembling an ancient theatrical mask, perhaps a Greek one like the mask she had once seen in a book. The name of the book slipped her mind.

Mr. Levy, the teacher, said: “Hefzibah, instead of paying attention you have been doodling the whole time.” Hefzibah said: “I’m not doodling, Mr. Levy, I’m drawing.” The teacher lost his temper and said: “Talking back again, are you? For tomorrow you can copy Psalm 82 one hundred times.” Hefzibah shrugged her shoulders and remembered that Dr. Eisner, her teacher in the fifth grade, had been sympathetic, had never reprimanded her. On the contrary, he would jokingly tell the class that Hefzibah could do anything, even listen and draw at the same time. It really didn’t bother him that she drew during class. That’s why Hefzibah showed him the journal she kept where she had written about Impressionism and why Van Gogh cut off his ear, and where she had copied her own poems and even a little story about three old women in a secluded house. But she was sure Mr. Levy wouldn’t appreciate things like that and there was no point in explaining them to him.

During the recess, then, Hefzibah locked herself in one of the bathroom stalls. She pulled down the cover of the toilet seat and sat there, her face crushed in her hands. She went through her memories and tried to capture the features of the face on the white pillow in her parents’ bedroom when her mother had sent her in to look at him for the last time. But now, returning to the room, she couldn’t see anything. Her mind was unable to catch hold of any likeness and she was angry with herself and decided that as soon as she got home she would look at the photograph album and then close her eyes and summon up his picture over and over again until it was indelibly engraved in her mind and could never be lost again so thoughtlessly. The door to the Girls’ Room opened and Hefzibah heard someone come in, turn on the faucet and speak. She recognized the voice of Bracha Shvili and heard her say: “Did you notice that she was wearing the jumper at the funeral?”

“Yes,” said the voice of Shula Reisser. “So what?”

Bracha Shvili said: “She repaired the place where the rabbi tore it. It’s not done.”

“Is it forbidden?” asked Shula Reisser.

“I’ll have to check that ,” said Bracha. “I’ll ask the Talmud teacher.”

Meanwhile someone else came in and now Hefzibah heard Esther Strauss, her best friend, saying: “Did you hear how Hefzi laughed out loud. She should be ashamed of herself.”

The girls left the Girls’ Room and Hefzibah’s hand went up to her heart, fingering the place where the rabbi had rent her jumper.

She usually sat in class next to her best friend, Esther Strauss, but now she took the seat next to Eli Weiss. And during the lesson, when Mr. Levy, the teacher, was explaining the characteristics of the idyll, Eli Weiss wrote in her notebook:

“Your eyes exude a verdant light

Just like two sparkling emeralds.”

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Hefzibah read the lines and smiled. Suddenly, Mr. Levy said: “Hefzibah! What are you doing over there? Take your things and come sit here”. He pointed to the empty seat in front of him.

Hefzibah took her time changing places and the teacher bellowed at her: “Hurry up! You’re wasting the whole lesson.” Hefzibah sullenly began to gather her things together. Eli Weiss whispered: “Why is he always picking on you?” She winked at him unobtrusively and he returned a shy smile. When she finally sat down in front of the teacher, she saw that Eli was flushed with anger and plea. Towards the end of the hour she tore a page out of her notebook, wrote a few words on it, folded it and tossed it to the back. Mr. Levy shouted: “This is too much! You are going to stay after school tomorrow for two hours. Tell your parents—I mean your mother—not to worry.”

Hefzibah thought: The whole class noticed his mistake. She was seething with anger and she said: “But, Mr. Levy, you already gave me a punishment…”

“No ‘buts’,” he broke in. “Psalm 82 a hundred times and two hours after school and if that won’t help you’ll have to bring your par.. your mother.”

Hefzibah thought about Dr. Eisner and about the fact that since he left, no other teacher had understood her. She remembered that on the way to visit them with her brother, the bus had passed between mounds of red earth carved out on either side of the road as if by a knife. She remembered that he had kept her journal for a few days and when he had come over to return it, he had said to her parents: “You have no idea what kind of girl you have.” And after that, her memories returned to the hospital and to the white room and the sharp light and the boy lying in the bed next to her father’s and she thought: I was more interested in the boy than I was in my father. Now I keep telling myself that I was afraid to look at him. But that’s not true. I was simply indifferent. I didn’t want to know.”

During the recess, Hefzibah stood on the terrace, leaning over the ledge, watching the boys and girls in the yard playing ball or jumping rope.

Dr. Moskowitz, the Talmud teacher, had taken out a chair and sat down in the sun. Hefzibah saw Bracha Shvili walk over to him, bend down and say something. Her hand moved up her jumper and she fingered the place where the rabbi had rent it. Only by actually touching it could you tell there was a defect in the weave.

Shula Reisser came over to her. “Look at that pair of turtledoves,” she said, motioning with her head towards a corner of the yard. Hefzibah saw Mr. Levy and Bracha Shvili standing and talking together. “Disgusting,” said Shula. “First she sucks up to Dr. Moskowitz and then to Mr. Levy.”

“I see that it’s been repaired,” said Shula Reisser, pointing to the top of the jumper.

“Yes. My mother gave it to invisible mending,” said Hefzibah.

“Is that allowed?” asked Shula.

“I never asked the rabbi,” said Hefzibah contemptuously. “I like this jumper. Maybe you think I should have walked around with it torn till doomsday?”

“You should find out if it’s allowed,” said Shula, annoyed.

“And if it’s not allowed, so what? What’s it your business? Maybe everybody’ll stop watching me like a hawk all the time?”

“You’d better watch out,” said Shula. “Everybody’s talking about you. They say you laugh too much.”

Hefzibah walked away and, standing by herself, again leaning on the ledge and watching the children play, she realized that there was no one in the world she could talk to: Esther Strauss, her best friend, was just a hairbrain and Eli Strauss was still a baby and didn’t understand a thing.

Now Bracha Shvili approached her. She fixed her eyes on the jumper and said: “They fixed it for you. You can’t see a thing.”

“Invisible mending,” said Hefzibah.

“Hefzi,” said Bracha Shvili softly, “they say it’s wrong. I asked Dr. Moskowitz. He teaches Jewish law. He should know. He says it’s forbidden.”

“And the fact that you’re so palsy-walsy with Mr. Levy, that’s not forbidden? He’s a married man with a wife and children in Jerusalem,” said Hefzibah, carpingly.

Bracha Shvili turned red and retorted: “Why are you always insulting people?”

“Look who’s talking about insults,” said Hefzibah.

The next day Hefzibah gave Mr. Levy the pages on which she had copied out Psalm 82 a hundred times.

“I hope that you now know the Psalm by heart,” he said.

Hefzibah didn’t answer and he said: “Don’t forget. You’re staying after school today for two hours. Did you tell your mother?”

“Yes,” lied Hefzibah and asked: “How can you be sure I won’t slip out in the middle?”

“I’m staying with you, that’s how. What did you suppose?”

“So then you’re also being punished,” she laughed.

“No,” he smiled, “I’ll be correcting homework.”

First she took out her sandwiches and ate them in silence. Then she took out a pad of drawing paper, a small glass and some tubes of gouache. “I’m just going to get some water,” she said to Mr. Levy. Then she painted for two hours without saying a word, inwardly abusing and vilifying the teacher the whole time, pouring out her wrath in strong colors, frenziedly covering the paper with paint, one coat on top of the other, page after page.

Suddenly the teacher said: “You can go. The two hours are over.”

Hefzibah screwed on the tops of the tubes, cleaned and dried her brush and put everything into her schoolbag. As she was leaving, Mr. Levy said: “I didn’t know you paint.”

“I only doodle,” she said.

Outside she saw Bracha Shvili. She’s waiting for him, she thought, and hid behind a wall to see what would happen. Mr. Levy came out of the school and Bracha Shvili went up to him. They exchanged a few words and then left together.

Crazy nut, thought Hefzibah. What can she possibly see in that revolting man? As for him, she thought, he punishes me on the slightest pretense while he himself goes for walks in the evening with Bracha Shvili, and him with a wife and children in Jerusalem.

Hefzibah sat in the kitchen picking over the rice. On one side she put the chaff and the tiny stones, and on the other the rice, until there was a small white mound. Her mother was standing near the kitchen counter changing the wick in the kerosene cooker. Hefzibah’s grandmother, who had just finished cleaning the house of their well-to-do neighbors (whom her mother had in mind when she said that in Palestine all the parvenus had made it big while people of culture and learning were starving), came in and asked if they needed any help. Hefzibah believed that if it weren’t for Hitler, her grandmother would have had servants of her own and wouldn’t have to clean house for other people and, maybe, her father would still be alive. She thought: It’s this country that killed him and maybe it’s true that mother shouldn’t have given my jumper to invisible mending.

Out loud she said: “You know, the girls say that it’s against Jewish law to mend the tear.”

“But you have nothing to wear,” her mother answered, “and winter clothes are awfully expensive.”

Hefzibah was late coming to meet her friends. “Where is everybody?” she asked the boy who was waiting for her.

“They left,” he said.

“Where to?” she asked irately.

“Nowhere in particular. Just strolling—in pairs.”

“Eli wasn’t here?” she asked.

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He went off with Rickey,” the boy said.

Hefzibah’s heart sank and she thought: What a traitor. He didn’t even wait for me.

“Come on, let’s go over to the park,” said the boy, “maybe they’re there.”

They walked up the hill in silence. The silence weighed on Hefzibah and she said: “Are you from Jerusalem?”

“No,” he answered.

“Then where did you go to school before?”

“The Yeshivah,” he answered.

“Your people are that religious?” she asked, stunned. He didn’t look like that—like those ultra-orthodox from the Yeshivah.

“No,” he answered.

Hefzibah had no more questions and the boy was silent. They reached the top of the hill and Hefzibah said: “I don’t see them anywhere. I’m going home.”

The boy walked her home and quickly took his leave. In the front yard of the house a lantana bush grew wild around the fence, creating a small den. When she was small she would play there with her brother. Now she discerned a crouching figure, a large grey hulk, hiding in the foliage. She began to run in the direction of the house. The figure detached itself from the bush and ran after her, massive and floundering. “Mother! Mother!” Hefzibah screamed. Her mother appeared at the door. “Get out of here, do you hear me, or I’ll call the police!”

He would always lie in ambush for her there, fat crazy Shaul, trying to catch her and kiss her.

When he would pass her in the street he would shout after her:

“Pretty Hefzi is going to wed

Crazy Shalom with the hole in his head,” or

“Shalom is crazy, Hefzi is good,

The rabbi’s going to marthem because he should.”

Hefzibah found him repulsive and terrifying. Her mother always said: “one day I’ll lose all my patience with you and go to the police.” But she never did. She pitied him and his parents. “If I go to the police,” she said, “they’ll lock him up for good and finish him off with electric shocks.”

Saturday afternoon, Hefzibah went to the girls’ club. She didn’t pay attention to what the leader was saying. Later they were joined by the boys and began to play guessing games. Hefzibah sat on the side, not taking part. Eli was sitting next to Rickey and didn’t look at her even once. When evening fell and Sabbath was out, they went inside for folk dancing. Hefzibah stood around watching. She loved dancing. Bracha Shvili went over and stood next to her.

“Why aren’t you dancing?” Hefzibah asked her.

“I’m not in the mood,” answered Bracha Shvili.

Someone called for a krakowiak and Hancha pulled out his harmonica to play. Hefzibah noticed that Eli picked Rickey for the dance.

Bracha Shvili said: “Eli and Rickey are going together.”

Hefzibah didn’t say a word and Bracha Shvili said: “Somebody saw them kissing. On a bench on Rothschild Boulevard. That Rickey’ll give it to whoever asks.”

“He’s just a big baby,” said Hefzibah. She watched the dancing couples spinning around before her eyes. She thought she had better go home and learn the chapter in Jeremiah by heart. Otherwise Dr. Moskowitz would punish her. But she didn’t feel like going home alone. She was afraid that crazy Shalom would be waiting for her behind the lantana bush. She figured that if she waited until the dancing was over, she would find someone to walk her home.

There was a gallery running along the walls of the club about halfway to the ceiling and Hefzibah decided to go up and sit there alone, in the dark. When she entered the darkened gallery, she was surprised to see a figure sitting on one of the benches. She stopped, ready to turn back and retrace her steps, when the voice of Bracha Shvili, a little choked and hoarse, called to her: “Come over here, Hefzi.”

“Why are you sitting here alone in the dark?” Hefzibah asked, surprised.

“Come and sit down,” said Bracha Shvili and Hefzibah sat down next to her and asked: “What’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

But Bracha Shvili didn’t answer. Only choked sobs escaped.

“Stop it! That’s enough!” said Hefzibah, a little frightened, put off by this display of uncontrolled grief.

“I love him so much,” Bracha Shvili sobbed, “I really don’t know what to do. When he goes home to his wife and children I feel completely lost.”

“But how can you? He’s an old man. I can’t understand what you see in him,” said Hefzibah.

Bracha Shvili took Hefzibah’s hand and began caressing it.

“I can’t stand it anymore,” she moaned. “I can’t begin to tell you how crazy I am about him.”

And then, before Hefzibah’s darkening eyes, Bracha Shvili began to sway back and forth, her eyes closed, her voice whispering: “I love you, I love you so much. I can’t live without you.”

Hefzibah studied her in her anguish, trying to figure out what to do. Suddenly Bracha Shvili embraced her and whispered in her ear: “You’re mine, only mine.” Hefzibah was appalled and tried to break loose from the girl’s embrace but Bracha held on and whispered: “You won’t leave me. You’re mine alone.” And then she kissed her passionately on the mouth. Hefzibah pushed her away savagely, disgusted. “You’re out of your mind!” she whispered harshly, getting up and running down the stairs.

“Hefzi, Hefzi, wait for me!” the voice importuned her, but Hefzibah didn’t stop. When she reached the bottom she immediately joined the circle of dancers, now in the middle of a tempestuous hora. They stamped their feet and clapped their hands at a furious tempo, their voices emitting a frenzied gibberish: “Ho! Ya! Ho! Ya! Lefti, befti, belabelabefti, tchingileh, mingileh, loof, loof, loof!!!” The intense fervor drove the nausea out of her system and she gave herself up to the beat, oblivious to everything.

Only later, when the circle of dancers dissipated and the frenzied “Ho! Ya! Ho! Ya!” stopped throbbing against her temples did she realize what she had done. She didn’t stay a moment longer but left the club immediately.

Hefzibah walked rapidly, her knees shaking, as she tried to blot out everything. Still, her mind kept churning up the terrible question: “What will they say? What will they say?” Every so often she took a long deep breath in order to fortify her battery of counter-arguments, such as: “It’s my own business. It doesn’t concern anyone else.” But the question was overpowering, attacking her with renewed force.

When she reached the fence, she examined the yard carefully and, seeing no one, entered quietly, making her way stealthily past the thicket of the lantana bush. She kept as close as possible to the opposite hedge, her head bent a little, fighting the urge to look back at the dark shadow of overgrown foliage. But halfway to the door, a heavy, obese body sprang out and, stamping like a clumsy, tottering bear, fell upon her. He grabbed hold of her with his coarse, heavy hands, murmuring; “Hefzi, my beauty, the joy of my life. I’ve caught you!”

“Mother! Mother!” Hefzibah screamed, but his moist lips were already on her face, his hands red-hot tongs piercing the flesh of her arms.

In the square of light of the opened door, she saw her mother for half a second, standing and looking and suddenly running down the steps, waving a broom and shouting: “Get out of here! Now! Or I’ll call the police!” The demented man let Hefzibah go and disappeared into the overgrown bushes, an obscure mass sinking into the mouth of darkness.

Hefzibah broke into a loud wail and her mother took her in her arms and helped her into the house. In the foyer she held onto her a little longer, caressing her head and saying: “Daddy would have broken all his bones, only we have no daddy. Tomorrow I’ll tell the landlord he has to uproot that whole bush and I’ll go over and talk to that maniac’s parents.”

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On Sunday the seat next to Eli Weiss was empty again and Hefzibah decided to sit there. Eli Weiss wrote her a letter of apology during class. He explained that he loved her, only her, that Rickey had provoked him and that his biological urge had gotten the better of him.

On the note she returned she wrote only: “Hope you had a good time.” That’s all.

While passing the note to Eli she felt the teacher’s menacing glance on her and she understood that if she wasn’t careful she might be punished again. When the bell rang, Eli Weiss got up but Hefzibah remained seated. She took the Book of Jeremiah out of her schoolbag and began to learn the assigned chapter by heart. The classroom emptied out slowly and in the end only a few girls remained, among them Esther Strauss, her best friend, Bracha Shvili, Shula Reisser and Leah Katz. Hefzibah was reading under her breath and her lips were moving:

“O Lord, I will dispute with thee, for thou art just;

yes, I will plead my case before thee.

Why do the wicked prosper

and traitors live at ease?

Thou hast planted them and their roots strike deep…”

And while she was still absorbed in the Bible, committing the passage to memory, she was suffused by the fear that some menacing presence was approaching, throbbing in the air, spinning towards her and crying: “Ho! Ya! Ho! Ya!” She tried to ward off the oppressive feeling, returning to the text:

“Thou art ever on their lips,

yet far from their hearts.

But thou knowest me, O Lord, thou seest me;

thou dost test my devotion to thyself…”

But some commotion deflected her from the passage and she noticed that her friends had gathered around her, randomly, in a horseshoe. Then all of a sudden, as if in a phantasmagoria, she saw Bracha Shvili spinning towards her, her arms outstretched. And before she realized exactly what was happening, she felt the full force of an open hand strike her on the cheek. Hefzibah lifted her hand to her face, utterly nonplused, and heard Bracha Shvili saying: “It’s forbidden to repair the tear. Dr. Moskowitz says it’s a terrible sin.”

Esther Strauss, her best friend, came up close and, pointing at her with hfinger, shouted: “You were dancing the hora last night at the club!” Bracha Shvili took her cue from that: “You should be ashamed of yourself! You slut!”

“Are you out of your minds?” said Leah Katz. “Leave her alone! What do you want from her?”

“You shut up, you scaredy-cat,” said Shula Reisser.

Hefzibah bent her head over the Bible on her desk and the tiny black letters grew before her eyes, crying out:

“Thou hast planted them and their roots strike deep,

they grow up and bear fruit…”

But Bracha Shvili swung again, striking her on the other cheek.

“Stop! I’m going to call the teacher!” cried Leah Katz, but Shula Reisser caught hold of her and said: “Shut up! You’re not going anywhere right now! We have to show her a thing or two. What does she think she’s doing? Laughing all the time. Dancing a hora. Sending her jumper to invisible mending.”

“She must be punished!” cried Bracha Shvili, but Esther Strauss said to her: “That’s enough.”

“She must be punished!” shouted Bracha Shvili, grabbing hold of Hefzibah’s hair and pulling. Esther Strauss pushed her away and said: “That’s enough. Stop it!” But Shula Reisser had meanwhile edged closer, holding a scissors.

“Gimme the scissors!” shouted Bracha Shvili and to Hefzibah she said: “Invisible mending, huh? We’ll show you how it’s done, Hefzi’leh.”

She caught hold of Hefzibah’s jumper from the front. Hefzibah resisted and from the back Esther Strauss caught hold of Bracha Shvili and pulled her away. The moment she was free, Hefzibah ran to the door. But Bracha Shvili, still holding the scissors, ran after her and caught her from behind.

Leah Katz screamed: “She’s liable to kill her!”

At that moment Hefzibah turned around and with all the force she could muster punched Bracha Shvili in the face.

“She broke my nose,” howled Bracha Shvili.

“Serves you right!” said Hefzibah, and Esther Strauss, her best friend, took the scissors out of Bracha’s hand. The sound of the bell, metallic and heavy, jolted them and they looked at one another, their faces flushed and angry, and Hefzibah was conscious of the fact that the prolonged ringing sound was cutting through her like the knife that had cut the top of her jumper not so many days past in that strange, remote place, just before she bent down to pick up a handful of moist red earth.

A sudden light suffused the room. Boys and girls burst through the door and on the threshold stood Dr. Moskowitz. He waited until everyone was standing in place, after which he walked up to his desk and said: “Be seated.”

He read out the names from the roll book and when he finished he said: “I hope that you’ve all learned the chapter by heart. Hefzibah, please begin.”

Hefzibah was sitting with her trembling hands folded under her chest. The seat underneath her was hot and sticky. For a moment she didn’t understand what he wanted but Eli Weiss, sitting next to her, nudged her, and she began:

“O Lord, I will dispute with thee, for thou art just;

yes, I will plead my case before thee.

Why do the wicked prosper

and traitors live at ease?”

And Eli Weiss continued:

Thou has planted them and their roots strike deep,

 they grow up and bear fruit…”

Hefzibah raised her hand and asked permission to leave the room. The teacher gave her permission. Walking, she felt the blood sticky between her thighs. Thank God the jumper is thick and dark,” she reflected.

Outside, she unlocked her bike with trembling hands, gave it a push, mounted and rode home. The house was empty and silent. Hefzibah washed herself, changed her clothes and placed a thick wad of cotton in her underpants. “Why did it come early?” she asked herself, and she answered out loud without knowing quite why:

“If you have raced with men and the runners have worn you down,

how then can you hope to vie with horses…”

She folded her bloodstained jumper, wrapped it in a newspaper, went out into the yard and stuck it into the garbage can.

As she went up the street, riding her bicycle back to school to pick up her schoolbag, crazy Shalom came towards her from the opposite direction. He called out:

“Pretty Hefzi is going to wed

Crazy Shalom with the hole in his head.”

Hefzibah got back to school during the recess and, ignoring all the eyes digging into her, went straight into the classroom. Her schoolbag was where she had left it, under the desk, and she took out her English notebook to study the new vocabulary. Esther Strauss, her best friend, went up to her and said in a muted voice: “Good that you changed your clothes. That wasn’t right, that invisible mending. It’s forbidden.”

Hefzibah fixed her eyes on the notebook in front of her and said:

“My own people have turned on me like a lion from the scrub, roaring against me; therefore I hate them.”


*The story is published in cooperation with The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature.

The Short Story Project © | Ilamor LTD 2017

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