Man Jumping From The Top of a Building
Today is my husband’s birthday and a man stands at the top of the world, worshipping the sky and Middle Eastern sun as it sets over the longest day of the year. Yossi said that he knew the guy would dive and went to bed. I don’t think he could bear to look at a man who actually wanted to die. When he turned fifty today he must have taken off his bulletproof bodysuit and become transparent. Children’s father received them at their birth as they lunged out into his arms, caught them like a wicket keeper. And I am wicked keeper of used baby’s clothes; unfold them to see the teddies and bunnies stained with milk and mush. Yossi’s shirts are covered in old milk spots, especially over the right shoulder where he flung them up high as babies, waiting for a glorious burp.
Blue-grey veins, my swollen, red vulva bulges heavy with our third child, pulsing in time to my heartbeat. I am duty-bound to prepare, contain, enfold and protect. I stretch the sheets over the children’s beds; fold back the blankets that will swallow them into the night. I place my boy and my girl on their sides, facing each other, their eyes moving rapidly under sleeping lids, cheeks golden in the glow of the Mickey Mouse night light. I must profit from the darkness, absorb the bloodshed without heed to the scars of a nation’s heart.
Wrapped in white skin, I look at the man in black sneakers on TV as he lights a cigarette and paces back and forth on the rooftop like a panther. He throws his briefcase down into the crowd that has gathered below and I see how easy it would be. Like a rod of lightning I would enter his body and take those two steps forward.
I have been living off my husband’s life; kneading our love, baking it till it looks like worn leather, cracked and dry. My girl is a kitten with a child’s body; oblong eyes, dazzling blue and eager to see, rounded pink nose, and satin lips. She lapped up her milk till she had her fill, curled up and fell asleep on my lap, her feet tangled in the soft pink blanket. My gaze is a shot of bourbon. I see her as if she were already a woman. Today she asked to wear a dress, raised her arms and pulled it over her tiny hips. She would not let me touch: “My dress,” she said.
In the semi-darkness of their room they grow, each of them alone in sleep, wading through thick, clawing dreams towards the morning sun which will rise outside their bedroom window. I drop laundry into the washing machine as the man falls – live TV coverage of his dying. My ankles turn to steel as I pour fabric softener onto soiled nappies. Spiders build cobwebs inside the cracks on the kitchen wall, spinning their silk in the greenish light. I hear a bird singing in the evening outside. I watch the instant replay of his spectacular leap; his body, a shooting star. The station shows him jumping again and again, in slow motion. I want to cheer, praise, sing, but all that comes is silence.
I would wrap my children in rose petal coats, fastened with thorns to shield them from the bayonet of growing up, cushion them as they fall into reality from the cloud of childhood. The world waits for them with open arms, ready to drop them into adulthood just when they think they are safe. The man’s blood oozes like sticky, sweet syrup. I see it on the close up shot, as he lies smashed on the sidewalk like a gutted watermelon.
In the morning my girl is waiting for me. She stands high and proud next to the toilet.
“Mummy, look”, she says, beaming, and waves to her corn speckled shit as she flushes and triumphantly waves it goodbye.
Her hands are tiny poems, gripping my neck with their perfect form. She hugs me tight. I dive into her eyes and see my own reflection. She lets go, suddenly seeing herself in the bathroom mirror, climbs down and stands frozen, as if staring into tomorrow. I hold her on a tight leash, close to me, afraid to let her go in case she runs away, a milk moustache still kissing her lips as she searches for tomorrow’s men. She tries on beads and bracelets, hovering round them like a drunken moth and asks me to paint her nails red. I feel her heart beating in my throat.
“I’m Badman, and you are Robbing,” my boy shouts.
He jumps off his bed, trying to fly.