I hold the washcloth to my face, breathing in the scent of water and my hands through the fabric. My eyes are closed. There is blessed warmth of water on tired eyelids. It will be time for sleep soon, I promise myself.
The heat of the washcloth fades. I sigh—neither in pleasure nor displeasure, thoughts brim over in my mind. The washcloth is lowered, I open my eyes. My T-shirt is deep grey-green, making my eyes shine in a similar unearthly color. My eyes are those of a cat, or a lady elf, or perhaps just a tired woman.
I feel old as those eyes stare back at me, when did I grow up? I grew up on every sunrise and grew older with every sunset. Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset—all in a deeply soothing pattern. Somehow it strengthens me, the unheard music giving stability to the musical of an unsteady life. I am a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a tune with my pen while maintaining my balance.
I smile as I sit perched atop the slanted shingles, my long brown hair tucked under a red cap. I wear a jacket that I designed and my mom modified, beneath is a prayer shawl with long dangling tassels made of bits of string from the laundry room cupboard. My feet are wedged in the thin wooden blocks designed to help me keep my footing atop that high roof. It would be bad to fall; I am not afraid though—much.
Perhaps I should be more afraid.
There is a wedding below. My friend—Hannie—gets to have all the fun. I smile briefly, glad for her but at the same time wishing I was among the other wedding-goers. I feel somewhat disjointed. I am the oldest of all these actors and my character in this performance is simply a metaphor. Hannie looks lovely in the wedding dress, the veil over her dark hair. Peter looks good too; the hesitant tailor with Andrew Wolf’s hat atop his head.
It’s like I’ve seen and been in this place before, but with a different set of actors. Déjà vu all over again. Oh wait, I have seen it before. Last time I played the Fiddler I was thirteen or so, I was short then and am still short. My red cap still fits me, and the patches are even the same ones I stitched on the last pair of pants.
I have a better seat than the audience does; I get to watch the wedding from above. Soon, the lights will go down with the end of that scene and the beginning of a new life. I will hand my bow and fiddle down to one of our directors after the final lights fade. When that happens, all that can be seen are the candles on the audience’s tables fraught with candy hearts and red glitter.
I will climb down, careful to remember to skip the second to last rung—it’s broken and will not support even my slight weight. I must move quickly so my brother and the other strong boys can turn the house for the next scene.
I must adjust my green cat-like eyes to the darkness and not trip as I exit stage left and reclaim my fiddle. I must not trip; I still have the final scene to act in.
I will be the last one to leave Anatevka and my green eyes will be sad.