At the End of Babel by Michael Livingston

By Michael Livingston

On the correct time, within the correct position, phrases have the ability to alter the realm.

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After what he’d told me about this song, I kept looking up at that window, but there was nothing from Mrs. Gardner, no movement, no sound, nothing. Then we’d finished, and the quiet and the dark settled around us. Somewhere nearby, I could hear a neighbour pushing open shutters, maybe to hear better. But nothing from Mrs. Gardner’s window. We did “One for My Baby” very slow, virtually no beat at all, then everything was silent again. We went on looking up at the window, then at last, maybe after a full minute, we heard it.

A bit like those plays when the same actor’s playing two parts. You can’t get both me and Emily in the same room at the same time. ” “This is obviously a bad time for me to have come. I’ll go away, straight after lunch. ” “What are you talking about? You’re not listening. I just told you. ” “I thought that was your way of saying …” “No, you idiot, I’m the one who has to clear out. I’ve got to go to a meeting in Frankfurt, I’m flying out this afternoon. I’ll be back in two days, Thursday at the latest.

After that, I knew it wouldn’t work out. But my mother, she never stopped believing it. And every time she felt down, maybe like you are tonight, you know what she did? She put on your records and sang along. All those long winters, in that tiny apartment of ours, she’d sit there, knees tucked up under her, glass of something in her hand, and she’d sing along softly. And sometimes, I remember this, Mr. ’ I used to watch my mother carefully, but it was like she hadn’t heard a thing, she’d be listening to you, nodding her head to the beat, her lips moving with the lyrics.

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