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BETTER LATE -1

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.

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