Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Name

Even now a year after Ariel's death, I wake up every morning with a sense of disbelief. Is this my life? Did it really happen? My stomach clenches like a fist, and I have the urge to pull the covers over my head and just stay in bed--forever. I move through my morning rituals like a sleepwalker. Daven. Eat breakfast while reading the newspaper; wonder why I'm reading the newspaper when the stories seem written by a committee of fools, men and women who have not the least understanding of the evil that now crouches at the door of civilization.
Being a screenwriter is not steady work, but it gives me the freedom I cherish. I walk into my office, fifteen paces from my house, sit down at my desk and wrestle with whatever script I'm working on at the moment. But the words that use to flow like water come harder now. I measure each word with the precision of a finicky chef. I write and rewrite and rewrite some more. I am no longer able to lose myself in the plots and make believe lives that I am creating. My reality has become so powerful, so overwhelmingly real that each foray into imagination seems like a flight from my true memories. And I don't want that to happen. I want Ariel's memory to remain more real than anything else. For anything else feels like a betrayal.
I sit before my computer, study the dialogue I'm writing and sometimes just say his name. Ariel. I say it again. Ariel. I chant it over and over again like a medieval Kabbalist repeating the sefirot. Ariel. Ariel. Ariel. Karen steps into the office to say hello. She takes one look at my face and she knows.
"Are you okay, Robert?"
I shrug.
"I was just thinking about him too," she says.
We look at each other.
"I have to get back to work," she says. "Will you be okay?"
I nod.
She turns to go. I reach out and hold her. I have been in love with this woman since I was ten years old. We have gone through so much together. If anything happened to her I would stop breathing.

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