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BETTER LATE – 6

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.

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