Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Between Sonya and Isaac

1

Good were those days. But the days that came after were not good. Blessed is he who had his first kiss with a maiden whom others had not yet kissed, and woe to him who kissed a maiden whom others had already kissed before him. For no special reason, Sonya changed her ways with Isaac.

Isaac came home from work as he did every day. He brought up water from the well and washed his face and hands, put on clean clothes and prepared for Sonya. He waited but she didn't come. And as is the wont of a man waiting for a maid and she tarries and doesn't come, it seemed to him that never in his life had he needed her as at that moment. Time slows down and doesn't budge. God forbid, maybe something happened to her? Seven times a minute, Isaac got up to go to her and seven times a minute he jumped up to see if she was coming. When his patience ran out, he went to her house.

Sonya lived in a small alley that has no name. You can't consider it in Neve Shalom, for a desert of sand separates them. And you can't see it in Neve Tsedek, for a group of houses separates them. Those are the houses of the Odessa engineer who ascends to Jaffa every autumn and builds himself a house to live in and when he returns to Odessa at the beginning of summer, he sells the house.

Isaac went to Sonya's house. His knees trembled with fear, perhaps she is sick, for if she was healthy, wouldn't she have come? Sonya is sick, Sonya is sick, Sonya is sick, Isaac said, like someone muttering incantations over an illness, and maybe they've already taken her to the hospital. And all the while he's trudging here, he should be running to the hospital. He raised his eyes and saw that he

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