Welcome to our first serialized novel. This week, Manhattan writer Esther Cohen kicks off the first weekly installment in what will be a novel set in the neighborhood. Intrigued by what you read here? Join us next week for Chapter 2.
Beautiful Eve, belle with high silver boots and an actual jumpsuit made out of parachute silk (she’d never tell me where she bought it, silver, too). Beautiful Eve moved in to live with me when my longtime roommate went to France. Because, she said, the words ‘I am going to France’ were reason enough. She had a cousin with an extra bed and in the late 70s, that was reason enough to Just Go.
Beautiful Eve wanted to be an actress, authentic Uta Hagen disciple, to emote, and often, she read scenes with her friend Robert, over and over again. View from the Bridge. She was the seductive niece and Robert the infatuated uncle. One day Beautiful Eve decided she wanted to get married. God knows why. No one we knew was married then. We never even used the word.
The day she decided was Pablo Casals last concert in Central Park, and Eve went. That night there was rain. Light then heavy, and the man next to her had an umbrella. Of course she did not. He opened it over her head, and then he moved in.
Turns out he was agoraphobic, and the Casals concert was an experiment in Going Out. An occasion, for them both, for him to move into our apartment that very night. Like beautiful Eve, Timothy, too, had a gorgeous voice, deep and Brandoish, and so they immediately became engaged. They went to 47th Street and bought a diamond ring. And then, there were plans for a wedding. There we were, free from various conventions, looking at pictures of well-tiered wedding cakes. And those couples in the pictures, they looked like they were in a black and white TV movie from 1955. Smiling with all their teeth.
Beautiful Eve and big red hair, like a wild swimming cap. As for her beau, her fiancé, her intended, her germophobic agoraphobic love, he wore plastic gloves for every occasion, even to turn on the sink, Timothy was a man who was hard to see, as if he always stood out of the frame. In the way that some people can be, he was eternally elusive. All his opinions were maybes. Nothing like Eve’s father, a lawyer who seemed to diagram his own sentences. Timothy didn’t sing, but he often hummed. If you asked what he was humming, he wouldn’t tell you. And then, if you asked what the reason was, he wouldn’t tell you that, either.
Here’s what happened to Eve and Tim: they did not get married. Even though we spent a week choosing appetizers (canapés!), writing down the bottles of Dom Perignon they would buy, still they separated. Not the way we all did in those days, Loudly and With Reasons. They kind of faded. One day Timothy said he was going to visit his Aunt May in Brooklyn and Eve, when he walked out the door, said Good Riddance.
That’s all she said. What’s funny is he never came back.
Esther Cohen has written five books and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday and elsewhere. She posts a poem a day at www.esthercohen.com,