Gazing at Iris — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

illustration by Avi Katz
Iris opens an eye to the sun above, then turns it to Yehoshua. Around them, a clearing of May’s green grass, not yet browned by the summer, stretches between the exuberant purple blooms of three jacarandas, among which iridescent blue sunbirds hover. Iris lies, and Yehoshua sits, on the top of a knoll skirted by the paths of Independence Park, so that even the occasional late morning Shabbat stroller does not disturb them. A west wind makes waves in the grass.

Yehoshua had passed this spot a few days earlier while riding his bike to his student waiter job at Tmol Shilshom. He spotted a pair of lovers on the peak of the hill, the girl lying on her back, sleeping peacefully, and the guy seated, leaning on his left arm, gazing at her face. A few minutes after passing, as he approached the restaurant, he circled back to the park to observe them again. The guy, with his short black beard and loose tee-shirt, could have been him. And the girl, in her loose trousers, with light brown hair splayed over the grass, could have been Iris. The guy was still gazing, the girl still dozing, and it seemed to Yehoshua that there, on that knoll, amid the purple flowers and shining dark birds, love was as pure as it ever could be. The sour face from the shift manager for being a few minutes late didn’t faze him. He would bring Iris to that spot on Shabbat, and they would be in love like that.

“What are you doing?” Iris asks, one eye still closed.

He smiles. “Gazing at you.”

“Well, stop it. It makes me nervous.” She closes her open eye. After a minute she opens it again. “I said stop it.”

“But you’re so amazing,” Yehoshua says, his whole heart in it. “How can I stop looking?”

She smiles, opens her other eye, and pushes herself up on her elbows. “What’s gotten into you?”

He’s not sure what the right answer is. He thinks back to that other guy and girl. He hadn’t heard them speak. It seemed they didn’t need to.

“I’m being romantic.”

Read moreGazing at Iris — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report