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BETTER LATE – 6

May 28, 2014 Leave a comment

There was a small library with two walls covered with shelves of books, one wall covered with landscape paintings and the fourth wall open to a screened porch. In the distance she could see endless, open water beyond a jutting point of forest covered mainland. There was a separate cabin on the island, and another structure that appeared to be a greenhouse. Shaynah suddenly realised they must live without any utilities. She scanned the text of the advertisement and learned of the septic system, the water filtration methods, and the electricity that reached the island through an underwater cable. Telephones had to be via satellite, as did Internet and television.

While Shaynah studied the text, the flannel sack that was her night gown slid from her shoulders. The photographs and descriptions of life in that place captivated her, and her mind struggled to conjure images of herself there, living that life. Her restrictive life had been so sheltered that she lacked any viable frame of reference. Absently, Shaynah ran her hands over her flat belly and soft breasts. She felt arousal rising within her, and abruptly stopped touching herself, flushed with embarrassment and remorse. She saved the web site and shut down her computer before she returned to her bed. She lay restlessly plagued by curiosity about that island property and the life that it represented. She wanted to respond to the e-mail address in the ad but was afraid to do it… to reach out into the secular world. Besides, nothing could come of it. There was probably no synagogue within 200 miles of that place, she thought.

The name of the vendor was David Goodman. It was a Jewish-sounding name, but no Jew Shaynah ever met would live on an island far from his people. Shaynah rose from her bed again and went to her computer. She paused before she turned it on, shook herself and returned to her bed. She admonished herself for her behaviour. There was no reason for her to be thinking so radically. Her life was set and secure. Her six children were establishing their families, she was a grandmother twice over already, and more were sure to follow. She thrust the idea of life in a remote location out of her thoughts, and dwelt upon thoughts of her home, her sons and daughters, and her grandchildren.

Shaynah slept fitfully, her dreams of a way of life other than the one she’d always known disturbed her rest. She found herself by a swimming pool in her long, unattractive dress while all around her women her age lay on chaises sunning themselves in scant poolside wear. Young men with bodies tight and shining with water droplets swirled around her until she awoke with a start, her stomach muscles contracted, her legs like rubber. She realised she’d had an orgasm, and she began to weep into her pillow.

When Lina, her youngest daughter arrived later that morning, Shaynah was composed. Seated at her computer, she was reviewing orders, deliveries, receivables and payables when Lina let herself in after her morning prayers at the nearby synagogue. Shaynah looked up at her lovely eighteen-year-old daughter and tried to hide her dismay at the severe, graceless garments that she wore. Shaynah knew it would be only a year or two before the elders chose a husband for her, and she would be trapped in a cold, loveless, sexless life of subservience to some ugly fool. Perhaps a rich fool, but a fool none-the-less. She almost gagged at the thought of the night she might have to shave Lina’s head. The idea of removing Lina’s magnificent cascade of shining black hair was a repulsive image that Shaynah thrust from her mind. Suddenly Shaynah was seized by an impulse and punched up the island real estate ad on her computer.

BETTER LATE -5

May 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Shaynah stopped to open on-line ads one after the other and read each. She studied with great interest the photographs of the properties, wondering at the splendid environments and even more at the interior designs and furnishings. Compared to the rich, expensive, conservative environment that her religion demanded, these country homes looked comfortable, casual, and somehow happy. She began to enjoy fantasies about life in one of those country homes. She would rely on herself to get along without the support of the close community and commercial districts to which she had always been accustomed. Some of the ads showed people enjoying their homes and Shaynah became fascinated with their clothes, and pictured herself in those fashions.

A mother in tight blue jeans served a meal to a family. The teenaged daughter wore a revealing tank top that showed a narrow waist above the low-cut shorts. A handsome husband-father wore an attractive plaid flannel shirt. In another photograph the mother reclines on a poolside chaise in the briefest of bikinis while her similarly attired daughter frolics in the pool with the solidly built husband-father. Shaynah realised she was running her hands over her own breasts while she imagined herself displayed that way and determined to some day soon learn how it felt.

Shaynah’s attention was caught by an ad for a cosy cottage on an island in a large lake. It was accessible by boat or floatplane only in the warmer seasons. The freezing times of the year one needed a helicopter, hovercraft or snowmobile to get to and from the island over the frozen waterways. Shaynah couldn’t imagine how anyone could live the year ‘round in those conditions. She studied the ad at length, fascinated – even excited – by her imagined scenarios of such a life.

There was an array of photographs of the cottage and the island, including the natural environment around it. An aerial photograph showed the entire four-acre island and its proximity to the nearest mainland. The distance to the mainland was not more than a mile, but there was no civilisation there. Shaynah could see that there was nothing more than dense coniferous forest from the rocky shore to the horizon. She read that the nearest town was at least 25 minutes away by fast boat or hovercraft.

Shaynah perused the many photos of the cottage interior for almost an hour. The bedrooms looked warm and comfortable, with beautifully colourful curtains and matching duvets. The kitchen was spotless and bright, with a large stove and a large refrigerator. The living room centred on a large stone fireplace before a plump, beige sofa and two matching easy chairs with convenient lamp tables to separate the chairs from either end of the sofa.

BETTER LATE -4

May 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Shaynah was happy to be able at last to think for herself. At forty-four she’d been unhappily married to Itzhak for a quarter-century. Throughout that time she’d never felt any passion, or even affection, toward herself. She did manage to masturbate from time to time, and that helped save her sanity. Now that the kids were grown and away from home, Shaynah was even lonelier than she had been while Itzhak was alive. The house was huge, and with no sounds, no children in the many rooms, Shaynah found it depressing to be there alone, with just the maid. She decided to look for a smaller place, perhaps a condominium or even a chalet in the country. She hoped to leave behind forever her life of limitations.

On summer nights when the air seemed laden with sensual potential, Shaynah suffered doubly from loneliness. She tried sitting and reading in room after room, but could find none that gave her comfort. She felt flushed and uncomfortable, even though the air throughout the house was fresh and clean, filtered through the efficient air conditioning system. Sleep eluded her, and she began to feel compelled to seek help. But what help could she seek, and from whom? Shaynah decided to stop torturing herself, tossing and turning in her bed when she knew sleep would not come.

Living by the Hassidic rules all her life, she did not read magazines, and did not look at television. She gave herself a promise to buy magazines and a television set. Shaynah got up and went to her computer. Normally she used the Internet only for business or shopping, and diligently avoided any sinful sites. But she felt different this night. She was alone in this house, and in her life. The burden of emptiness grew ever heavier and drove her to fantasies of a free life, a life that did not exclude pleasure, aesthetics, sensuality and sexual explorations.

Shaynah believed that her actions – if she had the courage to take action – would have a temporary effect on others, but it would pass. Her children would be shocked, as would her community and her rabbi, but there would be no real effect as far as their own lives were concerned. Her own life was her concern, and she wanted to live it before it was too late. Better late than never, she decided.

Seated at the in darkness in her shapeless night gown, her beautiful face illuminated in the glow from the monitor, Shaynah typed into her search engine country properties for sale and waited for the list of responses. The computer had never been used for anything but the family business and Shaynah waited eagerly to see what the Internet offered. When the search was completed, Shaynah scrolled down the list, read each entry, and hoped one would touch her. She asked God to help her in her time of loneliness and then scolded herself for turning to God. She determined at that moment to look inside herself to find the resources she needed to proceed into a more satisfactory life.

BETTER LATE -3

May 14, 2014 Leave a comment

While the funeral rituals droned on, Shaynah thought of handsome young men she’d seen on the streets. Their tight pants and T-shirts showed the smooth definition of their muscles and Shaynah wondered what it would be like to be held in those strong arms. She thought of the young women who would know that feeling, and wondered what it must feel like to reveal so much of one’s body. When she was young and on the streets among secular society, she stared at the bold girls’ bare midriffs that sometimes had jewelled rings glinting in the navels and the cleavages that almost showed bare nipples. Even though the nipples weren’t quite exposed, they were nonetheless prominent, poking stiffly at the filmy fabric that clung to them. Many of the girls wore cut off shorts so brief that the cheeks of their behinds were exposed. Shaynah wondered that it wasn’t against the law and that these young women were not arrested.

Shaynah longed to know that feeling of pride in one’s physical appearance. She had been taught all her life that aesthetics don’t matter, lust was forbidden, and only strict adherence to the religious law would be her life. Even in her forties, Shaynah inspected her body whenever bathed, and compared it with those of women she saw on the street. She felt that she could be as good to look at as any of the women she saw there. Her breasts were full if not totally erect, her waist not tiny but still attractive. Her hips, stomach and behind were nicely rounded, and her legs were long and well shaped even if the thighs were a touch heavy. She hated the demure garments she was required to wear to avoid any possibility that she might be attractive. The stiff fabrics, jackets, long, full skirts and heavy stockings were all meant to hide any possible aesthetic beauty.

While Itzhak was alive Shaynah lived with him according to Hassidic law even though she had always been drawn to the secular society around her. Ever since she was a little girl, she wished she could enjoy the pleasures of life that she imagined were available to the girls and women she saw on the streets. Although reading popular magazines was forbidden, Shaynah stared at the cover photos, amazed at the beautiful women, handsome men, and exciting places she saw there.

Within the marriage, Shaynah found herself feeling grateful that sex for pleasure was forbidden, and was permitted only to procreate. The heavy fabric barrier that was required to separate husband and wife during sex created relief in Shaynah that she didn’t have to endure Itzhak’s pale, scrawny body on her flesh. Now that she was a widow, Shaynah had the temerity to imagine herself in some of the light, colourful fabrics and revealing garments. She was intimidated by the thought of entering one of the tempting lingerie shops she often looked at when no one could see her curiosity. Some day, she thought, she might be ready to take the step toward a secular – or at least less restrictive – life.

BETTER LATE -2

May 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Even if Itzhak had not been so terribly ugly and repulsive, Shaynah resented being a fringe benefit to facilitate the family’s corporate merger plans. She wept piteously the night before her wedding when her mother performed the ritual of shaving her head before marriage. Shaynah mustered her strong spirit and submitted to the barbaric ritual. Her aunts and married female cousins looked on and fussed and commented and sipped tea. Ironically, as Shaynah sat silently and closed her large blue eyes, her thoughts were far from the coming marriage ceremony. Her thoughts instead were on a secular life. A life of challenge and adventure… and freedom to do and to be anything she wished.

Shaynah Gnavisch lived a different life within her mind, even when she was a pre-teen. No matter how strict the rules were in her parents home, no matter how intensely instructed she was in the demure ways in which she was to behave, her mind still wandered. It wandered sometimes when she travelled the busy streets with her mother, helping with the shopping for kosher groceries. Shaynah would wait until her mother was busy squeezing tomatoes or bickering over the price of a cheese wheel to seize an opportunity to look about at the secular girls and boys of her own age. She found that she had to almost constantly stifle her curiosity and envy of their apparent individual freedom.

***

In the synagogue chapel Shaynah sat silent and motionless before the plain casket, her lovely face hidden by a thick, black veil. She had to pretend to weep while in reality she struggled to push from her mind the thoughts of the freedom that could be hers now that Itzhak Gnavisch is to be forever buried. Surrounded by her family, with her face hidden by the veil, Shaynah’s thoughts travelled back through her life. She revisited hundreds of scenes and people she’d observed over her life, but always from the cold distance of her religious limitations. She hated the idea that so many millions of people around her knew things she’d never know, read things she’d never read, felt things she’d never feel and tasted things she’d never taste. She resented the limitations that had been placed upon her by her devout parents.

Her life, she began to believe, had been wasted with the possible exception of her fine, young family. Four sons, two daughters, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren might be a great legacy, but only if their lives were full, rich, and with a good measure of happiness. Her own life had been distinctly unhappy. The religious conformity that she was forced into allowed no tenderness, no sensuality, no caresses nor words of love and caring. Sex was only to procreate, and was done through a hole in a textile to minimise physical contact.

BETTER LATE -1

May 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Shaynah Gnavisch barely pretended to mourn the sudden loss of her husband of twenty-five years. There had been no love between them – no emotion of any kind, actually. Each had been born into Hassidic families and raised in the beliefs of their zealous cult. Their marriage had been decreed by the cults’ elder rabbis, and was seen as a sound union between two wealthy, powerful, devout families. Shaynah had been devastated by the appointment of Itzhak Gnavisch as her husband-to-be and wept piteously when she was told of her fate. Only nineteen years old, and her individual liberty was neutralised before she ever had an opportunity to experience it. The cult intends for it to be so.

Shaynah’s mother took her distraught daughter to her room, where she patiently explained the importance of maintaining the exclusivity of their society. She pointed out to Shaynah the enhancement of the family’s fortunes through Shaynah’s marriage to a Gnavisch son. The Levy retail chain stores would have an advantage over the competition when the Gnavisch manufacturing empire began showing favouritism to the buyers from the Levy chains.

Shaynah exploded at the suggestion that she was a bargaining chip to be spent on corporate enhancement. In her unaccustomed fury, she admitted to her mother that she hated the life she was forced to live. She hated the dowdy clothes and envied the secular girls she saw on the streets, striding proudly, their lithe bodies swaying in their form-fitting, flesh-revealing clothing.

Her mother unleashed fury in return, and berated her beautiful young daughter with hurtful words. Guilt upon guilt was heaped upon Shaynah as her mother told of the pain and anguish of her pregnancy, the suffering and labouring to raise and teach her beloved daughter. Now, this selfish daughter would prefer to be another tramp on the secular streets rather than a respected family woman with a fine home and religious conformity. Shaynah collapsed in tears and spent days wracked with sobs of dread and helplessness against the forces of her ultra orthodox background.

Shaynah’s anguish was hidden from the Gnavisch and Levy families. Both were pleased with the union, and proud of the financial strength each would derive from the joining of their families. On an individual level, Itzhak Gnavisch was eager to start a family with the young, comely and intelligent Shaynah Levy. Shaynah Levy, for her part, was neither pleased nor proud, and certainly not eager to wed the pale, scrawny, homely man. In fact, Itzhak Gnavisch disgusted Shaynah Levy. For all the stern teachings that aesthetics and superficial attractions were meaningless, Shaynah was a sensitive young woman, and she felt revulsion at the idea of coupling with this repulsive person.

Starbound – (fourteen)

May 3, 2014 Leave a comment

“My parents called me every scumbag name under the sun, accusing me of being a whoring tramp. A worthless piece of shit. I went to the police and they interviewed the boys and their dates about the night of the dance. The boys said they didn’t know anything about it, and the girls swore none of the boys had left the dance for a second.

“After that, life was even more unbearable. I figured, nothing can be worse than this life, so I struck out for the city to see what can happen. And here I am.”

Life for Sylvia moved along quite quickly as she began to rehearse with “The Bitches”. She was the only white girl, and she was positioned to the right of the other two backup singers.

Throughout the round of rehearsals, the engineer, Alan, was growing ever closer to Sylvia. He was married and had a toddler daughter that he loved, and he didn’t realize how strong the draw toward the new girl was becoming. He was filled with desire to be alone with her, to touch her and perhaps seduce her.

Alan’s job, between concerts and rehearsals, was to electronically enhance Sylvia’s voice. She was becoming a fan favourite because of her fabulous figure and enthralling moves. It became important to the group’s managers that the focus be partly on Sylvia. As the crowd goes, so goes the money. As the money goes, so go the managers, agents, and promoters.

The lead singer, who started The Bitches on their climb to the top of the charts, was becoming irritated by the popularity earned by Sylvia. Her name is Danarh Cooper, and she eventually decided she’d been too long with the group and announced that she was going to launch a solo career. The group and its crew were not too upset about it, because Danarh had been gradually declining in popularity for some time. As well, she had increased her cocaine dependency by an unmanageable amount.

During this time of upheaval, Alan was rapidly developing some technology and the techniques to go with it, which gave Sylvia’s voice a truly stimulating quality.  For his private profession, when he was not engaged by The Bitches, Alan maintained a studio in his country house. It was a favourite recording facility with many top artists, from symphonic orchestras to heavy metal to folk singers.

Alan took Sylvia to the remote studio in a verdant forest near a small river that snaked through the trees. Alone together at last. Sylvia, of course, was well aware of Alan’s feelings. It was almost impossible for anyone to not see the signs.