Only Yesterday

By S. Y. Agnon; Barbara Harshav | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
Isaac and Sonya

1

From now on, Isaac changed his ways. He began to be fussy about his clothes and shaved his beard twice a week, once on Friday evening like everybody else and once in the middle of the week. If he has work he comes home after work and washes his face and hands with soap and puts on clean clothes, and eats something, and runs to Sonya's place. If he doesn't have work, he reads a book and sleeps a lot and swims in the sea and straightens his room and tends to his things and prepares for Sonya, who comes in the evening. And when she does come she stands on tiptoe and leans her head back, her hat drops off, and she stretches out on the bed and shuts her eyes. At that moment, the white buttons sparkle on her blouse and the freckles on her face turn dark. And he comes and sits next to her and counts the buttons on her blouse, and says, One and one more, up to eight. If he counted nicely, she says, You counted nicely, and she rewards him for his trouble. If he made a mistake in his counting, she caresses him and says, Didn't you ever study arithmetic? And since arithmetic cannot be learned casually, they leave off their arithmetic and sit like that, until she slips out of his arms and says, Light the lamp. He stops and lights the lamp and spreads a tablecloth and brings bowls and spoons and forks and knives and they eat together everything he has prepared beforehand. Sonya looks and laughs at him for acting like a housewife, not like those who eat out of the paper they bring the food home in from the store. And since she laughed at him she appeases him, and doesn't appease him like those girls who kiss until they're a nuisance, but places her mouth on his mouth and the hair on her upper lip, which is usually not seen, caresses you until you're

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