By Elaine Rosenberg Miller
There he was on her monitor.
A huge, hulking man, not unfriendly.
The photograph was under lit and of no particular artistic significance.
He had graying hair, closely cropped. He wore ajacket. His square-looking face rested on the knuckles of his hand as he gazed determinedly at the camera.
She moved on.
Scrolling down the screen, she found shots of men in black wet suits,their eyes and noses, encased inmasks.Ribbed tubingtrailed from their mouthpieces, disappearing over their shoulders.
She rolled past gloomy-looking men with haggard faces, stocky men with apple cheeks, bearded men, men posing in front of waterfalls, one leg on a neighboring rock. Men standing next to horses. Men in tuxedos, the ghostly folds of their long-gone partners' gownsstill visible in the frame.
She changed countries.
The men wore reflective sunglasses or squinted in the harsh desert light. Some were in military uniforms.
She read their biographical entries.
Many identified themselves by numbers.
Was it concerns for Mideast security? Fear of appearing vulnerable, needy? Lonely?Israelis! They were supposed to be self-confident, even arrogant. Why were they on a website anyway? she murmured Had they exhausted all the females in their own country?
She returned to her geographic region.
Dentists. Schoolteachers. A man at the wheel of a sailboat. He seemed to leer atthe camera. A police officer. A tight red tee shirt revealed his massive biceps and forearms.
Someone sent her a message.
"I can take the kids, but I can't take the kosher," he wrote.
Furiously, she typed "You can pick up a woman in a bar and get a sexually transmitted disease but you can't take kosher?"
Smiling, she sent her missive off into cyberspace.
She returned to the first photograph.
No spelling errors.
Rising, she entered her bedroom.
Lights of passing cars played against the wooden planks of the ceiling.
When they had planned this room, they had decided on a southwestern motif. The fabrics and upholstery appeared muted, abstract, almost water logged.
The last time he had visited, he passed the bed and said "This used to be mine."
"How did this happen to us?" she asked, numbed.
Pelting rain stroke the roof. Thunder pounded in the distance.
She spoke aloud. She found that if she said things repetitively, she could control the feeling of losing control, being drowned in memories. But sometimes, it did not work at all.
She missed the secret world that they had made for themselves. It had been a long time ago. Now, the few times she had seen him over the last year, his once mobile and expressive face, appeared like stone.
"I should tell you, in the interest of full disclosure, that I am not a widower."
"You're not?" she asked.
They were sitting at an outdoor café.
"No, I just put that. My wife is ill."
"She has less than a year to live. A neurological disease."
He had sunk away from them, his brilliant mind fading.
Or had it been she that had dimmed?
The youngest one resembled him.
She felt that when she held her, looked at her, her expressive brown eyes, arched by perfect brows, her mild olive color, a gift of his Mediterranean ancestors, she was looking at him, seven years old.
He was a nice man, the erstwhile widower.
He described his wife's decline.
He was her twin, but he didn't know it.
They sat across from each other, sipping iced-tea, their lunches untouched.
He never called again.
She was grateful.
from the October-November 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine