Somewhat Feminist Flash Fiction with a Jewish Twist
“Should I divorce my husband?” mused Chava. She was unhappy with the current arrangement, but since they had never been legally married, she wasn’t sure how to go about getting divorced. Was she ungrateful? After all, it could truly be said that she owed her life to her husband. It could equally be said that he owed his life to her – but everyone had already accepted the first version, and it was too late to change things now.
Then there was the problem of her lack of choice before marriage. She might have chosen a completely different partner. Sure, it was nice he had a way with animals – but she wondered if he was good father material. Would their children turn out well and be a credit to them?
And then, there was the boredom. There was nothing much to do, except for roaming around the garden, all day, every day.
Getting to our story, on one of her meandering walks in the garden, she met a very slimy character. She had never met anyone there before, and a slimy character is better than no company at all. No harm just chatting for a bit, just to relieve the boredom. His only discernable fault was a barely-noticeable skin condition, but he kept her fascinated with his wit. But then, she didn’t have much to compare it with.
“How’s it going, Chava?”
“How do you know my name? Who are you? And to answer your question, I’m bored stiff.”Chava had not been warned to be wary of speaking with strangers.
“Call me Nash. I’m a reporter from the Divine Post, and I always tell the truth. I know everything there is to know about anything. One great solution for boredom is to eat, so why don’t you join me for lunch?”
That was good enough for Chava. Bored and naïve are not a good combination, so she agreed to eat lunch with Nash. He went behind a tree and came out with a bag made of recycled paper which contained plastic tableware and containers filled with delicious appetizers and entrees. Chava was flattered; he had planned this well.
After they ate, Chava asked, “What’s for dessert?” Nash was clearly a romantic, and a romantic man never forgets dessert.
“For dessert,” said Nash, “I want you to do something really courageous. Live dangerously Chava – it’s a better antidote for boredom than food. Expand your comfort zone and do what you’re afraid to do.”
Chava could only think of one thing that fit the category. “No, no. I could never do that! It’s expressly forbidden.”
“How silly you are. Haven’t I told you I always tell the truth? This is going to change your life forever. You’ll never be bored again, once you do this.”
Like many reporters, Nash told the truth but with such a slant that it was no different than a lie.
So she did it, and was horrified immediately after. For prudish readers, let’s clarify at once that she did not have sex with Nash. What she did is left to the imagination – but we have it on the highest authority that it was pretty terrible.
And then, because she knew good men were a scarce commodity [never once pausing to reflect that so were good women], and because she didn’t want to lose her husband, even though she had been contemplating divorce, she hurried to involve her husband and tempted him to also do what she had done.
Her husband could have said no, but he was as easily tempted as Chava had been. When you’re bored, you’re apt to make bad choices. Also, maybe he knew he could always blame his wife, and thus get off with a lighter sentence.Which is exactly what happened.
After that, Chava had all the time in eternity to reflect on the incident. She tried not to blame Nash; she was far angrier with her husband for his spineless lack of support.
“I’m curious,” she asked him later.“Do you know Nash? Have you ever come across him in the garden?”
“I’ve met him a couple of times. What of it?”
“So why did he never try to talk you into breaking the rules? Why pick me? Everything would have been different if he had talked to you first, instead of me.”
“Maybe because you’re weaker, and I’m smarter? Did you do anything to tempt Nash? Was your neckline too low?”
Chava was stunned. Didn’t he realize that the depth her non-existent neckline had no bearing on the case? The more she thought about it, the more it seemed like a setup, but she couldn’t prove anything.
Her life became immeasurably harder after that. Her husband’s did too, but she got the raw end of the deal by far. How she longed to feel bored again.
Her husband, who as you may have noticed was no smarter than Chava, but nonetheless not a wicked man, tried to comfort her.
“You’re strong – you can bear this. Remember, it’s the best of all possible worlds.”
“For whom? I’m confused. Am I strong? Am I weak? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have me strong when it suits you and weak when that’s better for you.”
“I hope this will end, right here, with me. It’s not fair, but I won’t protest if it ends with me.”
Poor Chava. We did say she was naïve.
Over the course of a long life she often looked back at that watershed moment. But each time she sadly came to the same conclusion: if her husband had been first, if Nash had spoken to him first, if he had been the one to make the mistake and dragged her down with him, instead of the other way around –it would somehow still have been her fault.
And Chava would have been devastated to know that long after she was gone women’s necklines are still too low and their hemlines too high in someone’s opinion.