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"Anger hurts the angry person," Aharon says, his wide eyelids and long lashes half-covering his large blue eyes. He has just placed two glasses of freshly brewed Turkish coffee on the picnic table in the courtyard of his formerly majestic - and since his divorce, rather dilapidated - Arab mansion.
Na'ama shivers. In spite of the bright sun and clear sky creating the illusion of spring, it is really too chilly to be sitting outside. But having this conversation indoors is out of the question: Na'ama cannot engage in such discourse without a cigarette; and Aharon doesn't allow smoking in his house.
"Victimhood hurts the victimized person a lot more," she says, trying to warm her hands on her cup without burning her fingers. If her statement comes out sounding petulant, it is only partly due to her clenched-jaw attempt at keeping her teeth from chattering.
Aharon doesn't respond. Not verbally, anyway. Instead, he smiles slightly, his now completely dilated pupils making his turquoise gaze all the more mesmerizing. And infuriating.
He is as used to Na'ama's outbursts of rage as she is to his constant even keel. This difference between them has been both the source of their magnetic connection and the bane of their coexistence ever since they met nearly a decade ago - the reason for their inability either to get married or split up for good. The root of their being caught in love-hate limbo. And of Na'ama's still being childless.
"Don't give me that holier-than-thou smirk," she says, the urge to spill her coffee in his lap and slam the door in his face once and for all conflicting with a greater desire to throw herself against his chest and be enveloped in his hypnotic tranquility.
Aharon shakes his head and sighs - a gesture that is simultaneously genuine and manipulative. On the one hand, he is truly saddened by the fact that Na'ama is the only woman he knows who considers him condescending, even combative. On the other hand, he is acutely aware of the powerful effect a slightly dejected look unfailingly has on her libido.
"What am I going to do with you?" he extends two outstretched arms, the sight of which makes her want to melt into his grasp. But she purposely stays put, knowing that a loss of steadfastness will weaken her resolve to fight.
"How about admitting for once in your life that anger is a normal, healthy response to ill will or bad behavior?" she raises her voice to a saw-like pitch Aharon usually refers to as "unnecessary" or "uncalled-for."
"That it's 'normal' doesn't make it 'healthy,'" he says, lifting his thick, salt-and-pepper eyebrows to the edge of his curly gray bangs.
"Of course you'd say that," she snarls. "You don't even think we should retaliate against the Kassams and Katyushas."
"Your need to bring politics into every discussion is very indicative," he says softly, in the tone he has been practicing ever since he returned from a trek in Nepal - a place, he claims, where even the poverty-stricken retain inner peace.
"Indicative of what?" she challenges, wondering why she would rather sit here in the cold arguing with Aharon than be at home preparing her lecture on the repercussions of a nuclear Iran - which he would no more care about than agree with.
"Of your fear of intimacy," he says. "And of love."
"Hah!" Na'ama forces a sarcastic laugh. "The only thing I fear right now is not getting my point across tonight."
"Aren't you really worried about not getting a standing ovation?" he grins in Nepalese.
"Aren't you really worried about not getting laid?" she sneers, her ire directly proportional to her sense that he is right.
"That was un-called for," he retorts, his hurt feelings directly proportional to his sense that she is right.
"Oh, I see," she says, pointing her index finger at him - something she knows he can't stand. "So Mr. calm-and-collected also gets angry when slighted."
"I'm not angry," he says, employing the passive-aggression he knows she can't stand.
"You feel victimized, then," she says, looking at her watch. If she doesn't leave soon, she will have no time to obsess over what to wear to the panel. This is a particularly tricky endeavor, since she needs to command respect on the podium without ruining her chances of meeting a potential husband in the process.
"WE ARE only victims of ourselves," he says, trying to sound complacent while panicking at the prospect of Na'ama leaving before he has won her over.
"Tell that to your daughter who lost her leg in a suicide bombing," she slams her fist on the table, causing the coffee cups to tip over.
"That was unnecessary," he bows his head to hide an involuntary welling of tears.
Na'ama is torn between guilt and fury. It is not in her nature to be cruel. Yet she blames Aharon for bringing that side of her to the surface like a nervous tic. She wants to comfort him and apologize. She also wants to tell him to go to hell for being unable unequivocally to denounce the animals responsible for the monstrous thing that happened to his daughter. And for being unable to be the man she would consider suitable to father a daughter of her own.
"Why can't you ever acknowledge the distinction between good and evil?" she asks, half-accusing, half-pleading.
Aharon dabs his cheek with his sleeve.
"Why can't you accept that not everyone sees things exactly the way you do?" he whispers, now hugging himself against the cold.
Na'ama stands up. "Because it makes me angry when good people defend evil," she screeches.
Aharon looks up at her.
"Anger hurts the angry person," he says, locking the gate behind her.