Her wait has begun, again.
She will wait nine months.
She hears the same words, spoken by men who look the same as the men who spoke to her the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. The men’s words pop, like bubbles blown from a wand. Flimsy and transparent, hollow and fleeting. Pop. Pop. Pop.
On the flickering, erratic television screen, the men appear and they talk to her. Their bodies, draped in black suits and ties are the same, but this time they have new heads. A long speech, interrupted because of the limited electricity supplies, the box switches on and off, on and off, as the men talk to her. When off, she is able to fill in the missing words. Like a paint-by-numbers children’s book, she fills the gaps, knows where the pieces fit and what is coming next. Pop. Paint. Pop.
Regardless, she feels like a mother again. She is hopeful. Her hands hover over her stomach, gliding, barely touching the surface, as if she is testing the heat of a stovetop. She gently presses her flesh, wonders, are you really in there this time? From her window she gazes. She sees the olive trees on the hillside. Nobody else can see them, for a few charred stumps are all that remain. But she is hopeful and sees the trees, their fruit blossoming in the spring and leaves shivering in the icy winter wind. She remembers the shadows that the branches cast upon the ground each summer.
But there is no more fruit, no more leaves and no more shadows.
She considers herself a mother, though without ever having a child to raise, nobody else does. She desperately wants to. She has been thwarted at every attempt. They, they the men on television, all speak of wanting the child, yet no one is prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. He blames her, she blames him, he blames another and they all blame each other. That is, the way it has always been, she knows it is not the way it always has to be.
She so wants to nurture life and to see a flower blossom. To hold it as it grows in strength and succeeds. The bulldozers she hears in the neighbourhood, the generator that grumbles in the corner of the living room and the crowds echoing from below, they all sound strong. But that is not the strength she wants. She does not want to touch that, let alone hold it, embrace it or nurture it. She wants all of that to go away.
She has mourned like a mother for those she has lost. The missed chances and foregone opportunities. The waste. The tremendous, tremendous waste. Some have slipped from her grasp, some were stillborn without ever having a real chance, while others have been violently torn from her. No matter the manner, the end result is always the same, a hollow and seemingly endless continuation of emptiness. They have different shades of grey, they are all colourless. The memories of some unearth anger, some despair, others regret, yet they all hurt as much as each other.
She thought she had it once. It was as close as she can ever remember.
There were promises, oaths and assurances. There were bells and whistles and stars and stripes. There were handshakes and hugs and smiles and salutes. In the end it all amounted to nothing. More emptiness, more pain and a greater elusiveness. Grandiose reduced to a sprinkling, a sprinkling which quickly blew away in the afternoon breeze, as if it were never there at all.
So now she waits again.
She knows her child.
The child’s name is Peace.
She knows it will come someday.