Five Seasons

Five Seasons by A. B. Yehoshua Read Free Book Online

Book: Five Seasons by A. B. Yehoshua Read Free Book Online
Authors: A. B. Yehoshua
had known in Germany before the war, she told Molkho, had recently arrived from the Soviet Union with her daughter and they had spent a long time talking on the telephone. The other old people, Molkho noticed, were looking at her with sympathy and respect; her bereavement, so it seemed, had enhanced her stature in their eyes, as though, having managed to deflect onto her daughter the death intended for herself, she had joined the ranks of the immortals. He was already holding the front door for her when she stopped and turned back, remembering that she had forgotten her cane. “Never mind,” he reassured her. “You have me, and there’s a cane at home too, the one I bought her.” She wavered for a moment, but then gave in. In the car, he told her about the children and the new housekeeper, whose cooking, he confided worriedly, might not be to her liking.
    And indeed, it wasn’t. Not that she said anything, but he could see the food was too hot for her. Though his wife’s chair still stood at the table, the plates were spaced differently now. At first, they discussed the new housekeeper, after which the college student told some story that made the high school boy burst into laughter. Good-humoredly, for their political views were alike (only those of his wife, who saw everything through dark glasses, had been different), they discussed the events of the week. After dinner Molkho’s mother-in-law asked to see the refurbished bedroom, and he showed it to her, wondering as she squinted brightly at it through her thick lenses what she would think of his remarrying. Before leaving she reminded him that the concert season was starting next week. She had asked the office of the old-age home to find someone to take her ticket, though most of the residents had subscriptions of their own. “Would you like them to find someone for yours too?” she asked. But Molkho knew this meant giving the tickets away and was loath to lose the money. “No,” he lied, “I already promised them to two friends at the office.”
    On the night of the concert a cold, jarring wind blew on the mountain, sweeping dead leaves across the pavement. He arrived fifteen minutes early, parked his car on a sidewalk near the concert hall, and hurried coatlessly to the entrance to sell his tickets. For some reason, however, there were no buyers. The audience entered quickly, among them many old folks bundled up in warm clothes, helping each other into a lobby of pulsing light. Spying a couple that had been at the funeral and paid a condolence call on him at home, he edged away beneath the marquee and turned his back on them, hoping not to be seen. The crowd in front of the building did not linger there long. A musician in tails, a small black case in one hand, scurried roachlike through a back door of the building. The only people still outside were trying to get rid of their tickets too. He would have parted with his own for nothing by now, but there were no takers even for that. The warning bell rang in muffled tones and ushers in khaki urged the audience to take its seats. Within minutes the lobby was deserted. He stood by the entrance reading the program, which began with some piece by an unfamiliar composer, followed by Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, which he could not recall ever having heard either. All at once he felt a longing for live music. What harm would it do? he wondered, thinking of his two empty seats while glancing up at the sky, where faint stars were fleeing an onslaught of racing clouds. In the end, he decided to enter, assuring the ticket taker, who cautioned him to stay outside the hall until the intermission, that he knew the rules. “You may as well take both tickets,” he added, but the man took only one. Climbing the stairs, Molkho halted outside the closed door of the auditorium, his heart quickening as he heard the horns and drums. It was a complex modern piece, yet not without

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