Absolute nuts, I'm thinking to myself. Got nothing else to do with themselves. Why I should I care, let them run around in circles and get lost. Their idea of fun. Totally off the wall, on and on from dusk till dawn. Why not sit and watch TV like normal people. I'm not their fucking messenger boy. Running around all day to prepare the ground for their stupid night games.

Dad is so uptight. He was sure we won't make it in time. The hell with it, I said. He stared at me like I was some criminal.
I said to him, how do you want us to make time when you're driving like a snail. We could have started a week ago. Only he doesn't trust the weather, just like he doesn't trust anything. He even fastens his seat belt when there's no chance of running into a cop.

And what about this game? One big madness. Ten riddles, for ten boring places, and a bonfire party at the end. Rally, they call it, silly people.
You're so damn sure you've thought about everything, Dad, but believe me, your rally does not allow for improvisations. You'll be running around the whole night through, deceiving yourselves into thinking that you're having a great time, while someone is actually manipulating you like marionettes and having a good laugh.
If you had balls, Dad, you would have handed the wheel over to me for a moment. I would show you the meaning of fast. Stepping on the gas at full speed and going all the way. Once I dreamed I was driving alone, straight into the sea. Suddenly the wheels skidded and the car shot forward like a missile. I slammed the brakes, watching the waves coming at me, screaming stop, but the car flew straight into the water. In my dream I tried to open the door but couldn't. I had to break the window. I saw the car sink deep. In my dream I thought that by the time they pull it out of the sea, it will be totally rusty, and Dad will have a fit. Proud of his car more than of my grades in school.
But that's not the important dream. There's another one.

What a moron I am to have agreed. All day he's been bossing me around. Each year another couple is in charge of the game. Tonight it's my parent's turn. Big heroes, feeling so important, as if they're personally responsible for the sites they chose, one might think they were actually there at the crucial moment.

Mom kept yakking about how important these historical sites are.
And you too, Tal, will learn something from it.
She seated me in front of her and began lecturing, as if I was her dumbest student. My country, my homeland. How ignorant we are, how oblivious to what lies right under our noses, blah blah blah.
Do you know the something of the rich history of Israel? Do you have any idea about the crusaders? And the Baron Rothschild? It happened right here, Tal, where you live.
Live, Mom? How about where I die?


This would be our last stop, Saul promised Ilya, while driving. No more riddles, I swear. For us this game is over. Nevertheless he was so tempted to play, and immediately apologized for his childish interest in the game. Such a busybody, a licensed voyeur. That's what drove him to become a research scientist in the first place.
Ilya calculated the time, which kept running out. Elusive chameleon sky in a reddish glow were getting on her nerves, a reminder of the bleeding dawn soon to reap their one and only night together.
But Saul was eager as a child, begging her to let him solve just one more riddle.
How come he knew all the answers?
Don't be mad, Ilya. It's always the trivial stuff that sticks in my mind. Like that mole in the middle of the back of your neck. It's always the minutiae that attract me. Did you know that Wilhelm II complained to Herzl, the founder of Zionism, about the heat in this country, and only out of politeness the German Emperor added that it had a big future?
And do you remember Herzl's reply too? In the meantime, Ilya kept searching for the mole on the back of her neck, the one she never knew she had.
Saul quoted Dr. Herzl: "At present this land sick".

Every fragment of this night shall be engraved in my mind. When we are old, we'll celebrate it as our private Independence anniversary. At last I'll have time to slowly undress you, never fearing that ticking tyrant sticking its hands in our back. Remember how you bought the clock in some crummy store, the day I rented the apartment, and told me that from now on we were its slaves? We should be grateful to Nurit and Yoav Segal, for providing us with a ready-made alibi. Helping us elope. I will take pleasure in every button, and all the rest of those inventions man devised to entrap the body. Your breath will be in tune with mine, and I will swallow air out of your orifices. A woman has seven orifices - one more than man, did you know we're not identical beings? I love feeling your heartbeat. Your right breast doesn't resonate, it's scary. Once you fell asleep and I checked to see if you were breathing. Just like I used to check for vital signs on my kids. I never slept by your side till morning, I have no idea whether you wake up all grumpy and bitter, or with a peaceful smile. I will slide all over your body, never skipping those flesh folds you hate so much, and the stretch marks from your pregnancies. Do you hear me, Ilya, we own the whole night. We won the game. Your scent clings to the letters I hide in the lab. The entire bubbly universe is you. At times, when my eye is glued to the telescope, I remember our first time. We were so terrified, like teenagers. Why do old forgotten words like "tender", "precious", "sweetness", "grace", flood my mind? Sometimes I think I'm going crazy. Hard to believe how these feelings, the ones you're sure are totally crushed by cynicism, cheap tricks and technical skills in sex that you've acquired over the years, are so alive after all. When I spot a light from a dead star on my telescope, I wonder if its existence seems more tangible to me now, in my hour of revelation.
What have you done to me, Ilya? Why won't you tell me what you do with our letters? Maybe you burn them, like they do in the movies, but to me burning letters is like burning books. I smile to the thought of how they'll find them when we are dead, you and me - two silly lovers lost in orbit - we'll bring a terrible shame over our kids.

Translated from the Hebrew by Orit Friedland-Tal

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