Eden and Eve
Sometimes, Eden, I think the body knows exactly what it’s doing when it ages, or at least the mind does. Though there are many things I want to remember, especially about my youngest years, and of course about my life with Meir, with your mother, and with you and your little sisters, like Nava, I am sometimes overcome by the things I want to forget. Your mother would roll her eyes. Our generation has told her over and over that we must never forget. But, ever the pregnant comrade at the bakery, I’ve kept quiet, feeding things growing inside me. So my response to this curse, to this never forgetting – and maybe you could understand – is that all of our remembering hasn’t yet stopped us from committing new atrocities over and over, much the same way we display our commandments in the lawns of the courtrooms where we try people for the very crimes they have always warned us against. Is that what we are then? Just destructive, hopeful, and inevitable failures? What is the point of all this remembering when we continue as if caught in a mudslide our timeless march of madness? So isn’t it better, maybe, to just forget a little here and there until I devolve – evolve! – into the only person in the world who has not seen hate and who has not known fear? One of me and we have finally transcended the cycle. One of me and maybe a hundred generations of daughter Eves who discover that built into their aging minds is the only known way to live in peace. That this thing happening in my mind, like the eyeballs that Dr. Gabi always points to as examples of the imperfect and awe inspiring majesty of natural selection, this change, is a mutation to select for, a promise of something to live for.
In the soft afternoon light the next day, Keren is sitting on the living room floor, uncharacteristically quiet. Even more alarming is the way the girls are sitting peacefully to either side. I hear only the sound of scissors eating away at paper, of felt tip pen scrawling on a scratchy surface.
“Where’s the black felt?” Orli asks, distracted.
“Here,” Talia, quiet, in another world, gently pushes something her way as she leans forward to grab something else for herself.
“Where’s the skin color marker? Is there any left?” Orli looks up. They are always on the verge of being out of this important, unknowable hue.
Talia is only marginally less patient now, and nudges my cookie tin filled with markers towards Orli with her foot. Orli nods precisely. Keren holds up gray construction paper and cuts a swift circle as I approach with a tray of tea and chocolate covered wafers. A scarf, not one of mine, is beside her in shreds, and she picks up a piece and holds it up next to the gray paper. By Talia, a bag of cotton balls is spilling onto the floor, a few marked with color. I set the tea down carefully; I am loathe to break the spell. Below me I see that into a portrait of Orli and Talia, Orli is building a man with a black hat. Talia, for her part, is adding to a picture of both girls when they were still riding together in a double stroller a cotton ball puppy with stick legs. And Keren has covered her wedding veil with scraps from a colorful scarf and replaced her husband with a full, bright moon.
Nitzan Watman was born in Tel Aviv and grew up in Kansas City. Her fiction has been featured in Poetica, Gravel Magazine, and the Harpoon Review. She lives in Denver with her family.