The woman's black hair was parted; two smooth waves pulled back tightly from her brow, disappearing under a scarf. The scarf was white, with silver threads running through it. It matched her white skirt and woolen coat. Only her boots, black patent leather, spoiled the snowy effect. She looked like a china doll, petite and perfect. She leaned against the man, who stood at right angles to her. She rested her hips on his, curved into him.
He wore a woolen hat, pulled down low. He looked so obviously irreligious. Shulamit had no need to see his head underneath it, she was sure there was no Kippah there. Stubble grazed his chin, jeans were slung low on his hips. The archetypical secular Israel, confident and fit after army training. And attractive, she admitted that silently to herself.
They stood on the other side of the bus stop. They didn't kiss. The woman rubbed her smooth cheek against his rough one. He moved his arm up, around, to cradle her.
Shulamit was fascinated, horrified. She couldn't look away. When the man's eyes swept the area, checking he wasn't being watched, she made her glaze blank, indifferent, pretended to be staring at the busy street.
The woman was married, religious and married. The head covering showed that. The man was secular. The man and woman were not, could not, be married to each other. Yet they looked right together, they slotted together, fitted together. Like a couple, a couple having a relationship. They were touching. It was like the scenes in the movies she had stopped watching, had given up as sinful.
The woman couldn’t be very religious, Shulamit reassured herself. After all, her skirt didn't attempt to reach her knees. And it was slit at the back, the slit reaching up to her coat, possibly beyond that. No truly pious woman would dress that way.
And what's to say the woman was still married? Once married didn't mean always married. Maybe she was divorced. Divorced women had to cover their hair too.
That would mean it wasn't an affair, wasn't adultery. "It was just," Shulamit stumbled to find the right words, "just a relationship that broke the rules".
She felt slightly better. Despite herself she turned round again. The man was brushing his cheek back against the woman's, tenderly. Shulamit stifled the feelings of envy. Shulamit was studying, pursuing the career she wanted. She didn't want to get married yet. She didn't want a relationship, didn't need a man. She was fine on her own.
The bus came, and she got on it. The couple still stood there, at the bus stop. She carried on watching them through the window, until the bus drove away.
4 days ago