Yossi Waxman

Writer, Artist, Designer 

Let There Be a Story

Prose Series, Yedioth Books, 2002

And there was evening, and there was morning, day one.

And God said: Let there be sadness, and it was sad.

 

Ditza Alfasi was sad, even though her name means "joy". Ditza Alfasi was very sad. She was unhappy because of God in heaven, because lousy God took away her husband, Job, and because God is pushing her around the city streets as if she was a crazy lunatic.

 

What kind of God is that? What?

 

Ditza is walking around in the street like a living dead. She's neither here nor there. At times she crawls and on other occasions she flies like the raging wind. And she is extinguished and bitter and transparent, looking inwardly into the gritting teeth that echo between her ears and crack her so very pretty skull. It is nearly impossible to recognize the old Ditza there, the woman who was once joyous and vital, even reckless.

 

And what is Ditza thinking about? What? Who is she thinking about? About her shining glamor? About God who no longer listens to her, who stopped listening? About her husband, Job? What pictures run through this gentle woman's inner eye? What? The streets calm her thoughts, her angers, the missed opportunities that have recently gained so much power, and her failures that grow before her very eyes from sidewalks and flowerbeds and parking signs. The billboards comfort her - perfumes, imported aftershaves, baby food, a tailored women's suit, Swiss watches. They smile at her with brushed teeth, appeasing her with red lips that are almost perfect. How are you, Ditza? How do you do today? Why are you sad? That orange shirt actually looks good on you. Better than the blue one you wore yesterday. And how's your back? Still hurts? And your head? And feet?

 

Ditza Alfasi is dragging her feet on the city streets. She made a habit of walking, forgetting, erasing her brain, melting her thoughts, becoming empty (even shallow). After all, she is an exemplary tragic woman. Her feet hurt so bad. And her bunions. And her thoughts. And the streets see her and feel sorry for her.

 

And there was evening, and there was morning, one gloomy day for Ditza.

 

***

 

In the early morning hours, before she visits her beauty parlor on Ben Yehuda Street, Mademoiselle Solange usually sits in cafés. She just loves humiliating waitresses. She eats them for breakfast, with her croissant. The small cafés along Ibn Gabirol Street, and the older ones on Ben Yehuda Street, and the fashionable new ones that pop up like mushrooms on the Boardwalk have all suffered her lashing tongue. It has become her habit, this ritual of insults and annoyances: "The cappuccino is weak and the hot chocolate is bitter! Will you move your ass already, c'il vous plait? The croissant tastes like paper! And what with those black nails? C'est impossible! There is a hair floating in my coffee! I would have kicked you out ages ago, Mademoiselle. There's lipstick stains on the cup! And the ashtrays are full! Mon dieu, your shoes are unpolished! Were you raised in a barn? And the cream tastes like lemon. And another hair, mon dieu! No tips for you, you amateur!"

 

Lousy waitresses, pretty waitresses, young waitresses - may they drop dead this instant. Solange hates waitresses, students, bored, broke. Pretty. They are so pretty. May they just disappear. She wishes they would just go away and leave her here alone to be the prettiest woman on this street, in this town. The best. There was a time when they were her peers - same age, same class, same year; but now they are so tiny. Little girls. They could be her daughters. She loathes them and punishes them for their beauty and youth. What's wrong with that? She may do that. She is a lady now. She dominates, wearing a Sonia Rykiel suit with a new Bvlgari neckless. Today, she is the predator.

 

And there was evening, and there was morning, one grumpy morning for Solange.

 

***

 

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Translation: Baruch Gefen