بخش 43

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بخش 43

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Ella

NORTHAMPTON, JUNE 9, 2008

Being one who had never enjoyed solitude, Ella found she preferred it lately. Immersed in putting the final touches to her editorial report on Sweet Blasphemy, she had asked Michelle for another week to turn it in. She could have finished earlier, but she did not want to. The task gave her an excuse to retreat into her mind and shun family duties and long-awaited marital confrontations. This week, for the first time, she skipped the Fusion Cooking Club, unwilling to cook and chat with fifteen women who had similar lives at a time when she wasn’t sure what to do with hers. She called in sick at the last minute.

Ella treated her communication with Aziz as a secret, of which suddenly she had way too many. Aziz didn’t know she was not only reading his novel but also writing a report on it; the literary agency didn’t know she was secretly flirting with the author of the book she was assigned to report on; and her children and husband did not know anything regarding what the novel was about, the author, or the flirtation. In the span of a few weeks, she had converted from a woman whose life was as transparent as the skin of a newborn baby into a woman wallowing in secrets and lies. What surprised her even more than this change was seeing that it did not disturb her in the least. It was as if she were waiting, confidently and patiently, for something momentous to happen. This irrational expectation was part of the charm of her new mood, for despite all the secrets, charming it was.

By this time e-mails weren’t enough. It was Ella who first called Aziz. Now, despite the five-hour time difference, they talked on the phone almost every day. Aziz had told her that her voice was soft and fragile. When she laughed, her laughter came in ripples, punctuated by short gasps, as if she weren’t sure how much more to laugh. It was the laughter of a woman who had never learned not to pay too much attention to the judgments of others.

“Just go with the flow,” he said. “Let go!”

But the flow around her was unsteady and disruptive as several things were happening in her house at this time. Avi had started taking private classes in mathematics, and Orly was now seeing a counselor for her eating disorder. This morning she had eaten half an omelet—her first substantial food in months—and though she had instantly inquired how many calories there were in it, it was a small miracle that she hadn’t felt guilty and punished herself by throwing up afterward. Meanwhile Jeannette had set off a bombshell by announcing her breakup with Scott. She had offered no explanation other than the fact that they both needed space. Ella wondered if “space” was a code for a new love, given that neither Jeannette nor Scott had lost any time in finding someone new.

The speed with which human relations materialized and dissipated amazed Ella more than ever, and yet she tried not to pass judgment on other people anymore. If there was one thing she had learned from her correspondence with Aziz, it was that the more she remained calm and composed, the more her children shared with her. Once she had stopped running after them, they had stopped running away from her. Somehow things were working more smoothly and closer to her liking than in the times when she had tirelessly tried to help and repair.

And to think she was doing nothing to achieve this result! Instead of seeing her role in the house as some sort of glue, the invisible yet central bond that held everyone together, she had become a silent spectator. She watched events unfold and days waft by, not necessarily coldly or indifferently but with visible detachment. She had discovered that once she accepted that she didn’t have to stress herself about things she had no control over, another self emerged from inside—one who was wiser, calmer, and far more sensible.

“The fifth element,” she muttered to herself several times during the day. “Just accept the void!”

It didn’t take long for her husband to notice there was something strange about her, something so not Ella. Was this why all of a sudden he wanted to spend more time with her? He came home earlier these days, and Ella suspected he had not been seeing other women for a while.

“Honey, are you all right?” David asked repeatedly.

“I am right as rain,” she answered, smiling back each time. It was as if her withdrawal into a calm, private space of her own stripped away the polite decorum behind which her marriage had slept undisturbed for many years. Now that the pretenses between them were gone, she could see their defects and mistakes in all their nakedness. She had stopped pretending. And she had a feeling David was about to do the same.

Over breakfasts and dinners, they talked about the day’s events in composed, adult voices, as though discussing the annual return on their stock investments. Then they remained silent, acknowledging the blunt fact that they didn’t have much else to talk about. Not anymore.

Sometimes she caught her husband looking at her intently, waiting for her to say something, almost anything. Ella sensed if she asked him about his affairs, he would gladly have come clean. But she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

In the past she used to feign ignorance in order not to rock the boat of her marriage. Now, however, she stopped acting as if she didn’t know what he’d been doing when he was away. She made it clear that she did know and that she was uninterested. It was precisely this new aloofness that scared her husband. Ella could understand him, because deep inside it scared her, too.

A month ago if David had taken even a tiny step to improve their marriage, she would have felt grateful. Any attempt on his part would have delighted her. Not anymore. Now she suspected that her life wasn’t real enough. How had she arrived at this point? How had the fulfilled mother of three discovered her own despondency? More important, if she was unhappy, as she once told Jeannette she was, why was she not doing the things unhappy people did all the time? No crying on the bathroom floor, no sobbing into the kitchen sink, no melancholic long walks away from the house, no throwing things at the walls … nothing.

A strange calm had descended upon Ella. She felt more stable than she’d ever been, even as she was swiftly gliding away from the life she’d known. In the morning she looked into the mirror long and hard to see if there was a visible change in her face. Did she look younger? Prettier? Or perhaps more full of life? She couldn’t see any difference. Nothing had changed, and yet nothing was the same anymore.

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