Also by Edeet Ravel

Ten Thousand Lovers

Wall of Light

For my friend Nada

And take upon ’s the mystery of things

As if we were God’s spies

—King Lear

ELEVEN YEARS AGO my husband caught re while on reserve duty. He was not a combat soldier; his job was folding laundry. There are women who wonder, when their husbands leave for the army, whether the good- bye kiss at the door is the last one, whether they’l ever see their husbands again. I was luckier: what could possibly happen to someone who served his country by sorting shirts and towels? I didn’t have to live in limbo between one check-in phone cal and the next. Or so I thought. But on the last day of reserve duty my husband caught re, and before I had a chance to see him, he vanished.


I WOKE UP AND DIDN’T KNOW WHERE I WAS. This happens to me frequently: I emerge in stages from a deep sleep and I can’t remember what time of day it is, or what life I’m living. Am I in my parents’ seven-room at in the desert, waking to a breakfast of rol s and but er and nine percent cheese, or living with neighbors who are tiptoeing around my sofa bed so as not to disturb me, or in my army cot, facing a day of cleaning toilets because I’m in trouble with my sergeant again? Or have I woken in some altogether unknown place, where people wear black capes, say, and hop from place to place instead of walking?

This process of relocating myself never lasts more than a few seconds. I knew where I was: the bedroom of our U-shaped at near the sea.

It was Saturday morning, the beginning of September, and I had a demonstration to photograph in Mejwan. Odelia was coming at eight-thirty to col ect me.

I sat up in bed. When my husband lived with me I’d wear one of his T-shirts to sleep, but after he vanished I started sleeping naked. I wanted to feel closer to him, wherever he was; if he came during the night I would be prepared. It was just a fantasy, of course. I knew Daniel would not appear suddenly at the stroke of midnight, the way some of the characters in my novels liked to do.

I slipped on my bathrobe and raised the blackout shut ers. Bright sunlight ooded the room and set led on the dusty heart-shaped leaves of my climbing plants. “Leaves deserve to be noticed,” Daniel had said, cryptical y at rst, when he painted one of the bedroom wal s black. He hung a mirror in the center, and arranged the plants so they framed the mirror and spread outward until they covered the entire wal , heart-shaped green against night-black, our own reflection peeping at us from the midst of a leafy jungle.

I put on the ket le and while I waited for the water to boil I wrote down a dream I’d had in a notebook I kept for that purpose. I’d decorated the notebook with a color printout of Raphael’s Madonna with the Fish, which seemed somehow appropriate. I began recording my dreams when I was fourteen and my mother died in a tra c accident. For several weeks she came to life each night as I slept, and in the morning I would try to recapture our nocturnal encounters so I could relive the experience, and also because I wanted to understand the dreams, which were often perplexing. In one she was riding on a seashel and she cal ed out, “Don’t forget Lord Kitchener!” In another she told me to wash my hair in a kneeling position, never while standing.

This morning, just before waking, I dreamed that I was at the Munjed checkpoint, a checkpoint I’d photographed a few times. I was climbing the watchtower to get a bet er angle, and the border guards were tel ing me to watch out for electric wires. I wondered whether they were afraid they’d be blamed if I was electrocuted, or whether they real y were worried about me. I tried to nd a good angle for my photograph, but realized it was hopeless because there were seven thousand Palestinians below, lined up and waiting for their IDs, which had been con scated. I cal ed down to the guards, “How come you’ve detained so many today?” and they answered, “It’s the drugs we’ve taken, they multiply everything seven thousand times.” I tried to gure out how their hal ucinations could a ect my own vision, and the ef ort to introduce waking-life logic into the dream woke me.

I left the army to marry my husband. He was the lead singer of the band at my cousin’s wedding and I could not take my eyes o him: his dark brown hair and David Bowie eyes, that smile of his as he sang. It was an extravagant wedding at one of the most ritzy hal s in the country—my aunt and uncle were wealthy, and their daughter was spoiled. The smal , laid-back band was noticeably out of place in this gilded set ing: three musicians perched on a lit le wooden platform, al wearing jeans, short-sleeved white shirts, and black vests. One of the musicians was a multitalented albino with shoulder-length white hair; he played drums, sax, and keyboard. The other was chubby, with raisin eyes and sweet dimples, and the confidence to shake and bounce about as he strummed his guitar.

There was dancing at the wedding, of course, but the band didn’t fol ow the standard wedding repertoire. No zesty religious chants, no inspirational nationalist classics, none of the traditional tunes that were considered a must at any celebration. Instead, Daniel sang contemporary songs about waking up in the middle of the night with a feeling of dread, or going to airports to watch planes taking o . He sang my favorite song at the time, “Seer, Go Flee.” When he came to those words I knew I had to have him. Seer, go ee. For there is no mercy in this city, and no place to hide. Seer, go flee.

I waited until the band began to fold up and then shyly approached him. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the other two musicians, but I knew that if I didn’t speak up they’d al be gone in a mat er of minutes, leaving me alone in the empty auditorium.

Daniel looked at me. He seemed amused for some reason, maybe because of the contrast between my uniform and the confused, unsoldierly way I was standing next to the platform. “Can I help you with something?” he asked.

“I was wondering …”

But now al three performers were looking at me.

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