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ANOTHER LIFE/Jerome Mandel WHO'STHIS?" said SteUa, settling gracefuUy on the sofa beside him. "Who's who?" Frank asked. Plucked suddenly from his book, he refocused on the parcel afloat in the silk swirls of her lap. "These pictures," she said. "And there's a letter with them. 'My darling Stella' "Sounds promising," he smüed while his photogray lenses adjusted. '"My darling Stella,'" she repeated. "'Since I've been here, I've thought of nothing but bright colors—iridescent fish, bougainvillea and frangipani that leap scarlet from the trees, and parraquitoes flashing golden green. The very air is aUve with the cries of monkeys, tree-frogs, birds. Sometimes flowers lift away from the vines and become butterflies as big as your hand. Toward evening, I sUp naked into the lagoon—and think of you.'" "Nobody writes Hke that anymore," said Frank. "Who's it from?" "See for yourself." She tipped the package into his lap and drowned his book in Kodacolor memories, which he peered at through the bottom third of his glasses. Blue-green sea. PeUucid sky. A man on the verandah of an elegant house somewhere in sunland. The sundeck of a white boat with the man in the shadow of an awning, colorful drink in hand. An evening scene: candles and fans, the sunshine man in a soft shirt, open at the coUar. "But ... this looks like -----" "Yes," she said. "Me," said Frank. She turned the package over, threw her hair behind her ears. "MaUed two weeks ago," she said. Frank looked for the postmark. "Where's it from?" "Charleroi, in the Dutch Antilles." "SteUa "How did you do this?" she said, smUing. "I didn't." "When was the last time you were away, Frank?" "Eight months ago," he said. "Yes, this looks just like the Kazakhstan Trade Fair in January." "WeU, they could have been taken anytime, couldn't they?" The Missouri Review · 227 "Stella, I've never been in the Caribbean." "Are you saying this is not you?" She held a close-up of Frank, his face checkered by sun filtering through a fiber hat. "Not me," he said. "Such a cleverboy," she said, kissing him. "So fuU ofsurprises. What did you do? Find an old roll of film from before we were married?" "It's not me." "Sure it is. Or do you have a twin you've been hiding from me?" "No." "It looks exactly like you." Frank looked carefully at the shadowed man. "Yes," he said. "How exciting for you, Frank," said Stella. "You have another Ufe." "But someone else is living it," he said. On her way to Mann Auditorium the next morning, Stella dropped him, as usual, at the station for the train up to Jerusalem. "You're not going to do anything funny, are you?" she said. "What do you mean?" "Like take the train to the Caribbean," she said, kissing him. "Nah," he said. "Straight to the depths of darkest Jerusalem." The train climbed out of the arid coastal plain and wound its way through green mountains toward the sky. He looked at the hUlside, stone and tree, where the delicate anemone unfolded in the rugged soil. Sunlight and shadow fell like flickering memories across the old woman in the seat across the aisle. What Ufe did she Uve outside this train? Who did she become in the forests of Europe when the sky was dirty with the smoke ofburning hair, burning bone? And who was she before she became well-fed and cleanly dressed on the train to Jerusalem? When he arrived, the city was white with morning. He stepped through the wrought-iron gate in the half-waU of stone and climbed the steps out of the stony garden onto the front porch and then into the shadowed gloom of the entrance haU. "Good morning, Frank." Mira held up a bouquet of faxes that grew overnight in the smoke-free environment. She was wearing sunglasses which did not quite mask her purple cheek. He cUcked on the calendar for the day before he turned to the inhouse network. Both Cleo Jacobson, who handled exports, and Lior Liora, who dealt with imports, preferred to dash...


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