By Ada Jones
On her twentieth birthday Fernanda Pessoa was offered a red winged car, and a book on ornithology. Osvaldo Moreira, the master of puppets, orchestrated a ball of Brobdingnagian proportions on the day his niece was coming of age. Maids were giggling and whirling on the accordion and trumpet concords of Algarve musicians. Wine poured into crystals, and gents were gazing at non-loquacious Fernanda through their monoculars. Fernanda was no girl to enjoy the merrymaking. She was all dressed in black muslin and gray feathers erring like a wraith underneath the umbrella foliage of her uncle’s Constantinople acacias. Meanwhile in a far off land dressed in a white gown in a snowy town Bella Rosenfeld was baking lemon biscuits for Marc Chagall. She was all tears. And so was Fernanda.
On her sixteenth birthday Celia Rhodes was offered a blue ladybug, and a crochet lace white dress. Celia Rhodes never married. Edwina Goldwin, her Gypsy lover, eloped to distant Delhi with a dreamy maharaja and took to raising songbirds. Celia Rhodes was expedited a whole collection of silky tiny blueish feathers which she then had sewn for her on a ball gown. The costly piece of garment figured as one of the treasures of Celia’s Wunderkammer. Late at night Celia would read from the Rêve dans le Pavillon Rouge or the Chinese Story of the Stone. Young fictional Lin Daiyou slept the sleep of endless mirages and dreaming away. In her Red Chamber she would langurously sigh and die off salty tears. Celia never travelled to India. Edwina bore the maharaja a triad of infant girls. Celia was bearing a black moon in her womb.
On her eighteenth birthday Gelda Kaufmann was offered a Chinese butterfly, and a daffodil field. She uttered a blissful thank you to her fiancé and scribbled an unending epistle, which she later in time threw off to the sea on Rugen Island. The deep Baltic Sea swallowed the greenish bottle into a haze of undulating foam and Gelda Kaufmann eclipsed away under the gauzy penumbra of her white parasol. Gelda Kaufmann was the dainty daughter of a well off jeweller of Krakow, and she was engaged to Isaac Babel, a rabbi’s son. Their union was prosperous and woven of halcyon days. The daffodil field would bloom each spring yellowish and delectable against the skinny vault of drizzly clouds. In 1932 they relocated to a Bauhaus apartment in summery Tel Aviv where they purchased a radiophone and a Limoges hand painted table porcelain set.