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  • First fiction piece

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 1:57 am

    I think this is the first fiction piece I wrote since High school. Please please send any criticism, or comments .

     

    Just about three minutes. That how long my drive is from shimmy’s daycare until my office. Three minutes, just enough time to call the dentist, or the bank, or the accountant.  This morning it’s the dentist. Miracles happen, they have an appointment 20 minutes after work. Just enough time for me to pick up Shimmy, get to Ruvi’s school to sign him out and get to the dentist. A voice note convo, on the walk from my car to my desk, and my girls will go to the Rubins after school. I issue a  quick prayer of gratitude for the most wonderful neighbors possible and I wait for my computer to start up.

    I did it again, I’m logged in and working by nine. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. Half hour until the big boss walks in. Thirty minutes to review 28 emails. Piece of cake. Last Tuesday , when I left early for Shifra’s explorers fair, I had 42 emails greeting me on Wednesday morning. I let my mind wander for one moment and I think about  What am I trying to prove?  I was entitled to cut my hours after 10 years of devoted service and child number five and  I know Mr. Roth won’t notice if I respond to one or two emails a bit later in the day. Issue is, I will notice and I’m not going easy on myself now. One email inquiry took a bit of research and I have 7 remaining to clear out in 4 minutes. I’m responding to the last email, an e-mail from a grateful client telling me how they told Mr. R what a pleasure it was to work with me on their last transaction. I shoot back my auto response … pleasure to serve.. yada yada and let out another breath I once again didn’t realize I was holding. Just as I hit sent Mr. R passes by, nods a good morning greeting as he passes my desk and heads to his private office. The next six hours fly by in a flurry of emails, number crunching, and conference calls.

    I pick up Shimmy and  eat my granola bar as I navigate traffic while trying to convince  the secretary of Ruvis school to sign out Ruvi for me. I pull up to the dentist, send Chani Rubin a quick reminder text, and let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.

    An hour and half, and 250 dollars later I’m pulling up my driveway, while calling Chani to ask her to send home the girls.  I’m greeting, Gitty, Henny, and Esti, listening, asking, validating, and encouraging as I pop the breaded cutlets into the air fryer, put the soup from the fridge to the flame and chop up a salad.  I look at the clock, 48 minutes until Menachem walks in.  48 minutes for spelling homework, math drills, shorahsim flash cards, Chumash review, and Kriyah contests.  Menachem walks in as the last back pack is getting zipped, and I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding.

    The problem is that Menachem does. He gives me a look and I shrug it off although I know that I’ll be hearing about it later tonight after night Seder.  I have two and half hours to plan my defense. Two and half hours to bathe, hug, kiss, read to, and tuck in the five most precious souls out there.  Two and half hours to also clean up from Dinner, prepare tomorrow’s supper, set up five piles of  clothes and pack five lunches. Menachem walks in as I let out another deep breath. He gives me a look, and I busy myself with preparing some decaf for the two of us. As I take the creamer out of the fridge, I think of saying, “look I have self care, I have creamer. “ I choose not the waste my words.

    “Chani, Chani,” Menachem starts. “It’s absolutely amazing what you do for me, the kids, the finances, and the house, but your working too hard.”  I bristle. I feel the familiar feelings creep up on me. I don’t know what they are, but their uncomfortable feelings so I push them away. Come to think of it, I push all feelings always. Feelings waste time. Time is precious. I notice that Menachem is still talking. I force myself to focus. A good wife doesn’t space out when her husband talks. Menachem deserves a good wife.  Menachem is talking about how he wants to help out more. I should have put the dentist responsibility on him, he can take over paying the bills, he wants me to hire cleaning help, most of all, he would love to be more involved with the children. He can do bedtime, Carpools and even try homework. Each offer feels like an arrow to my heart. I realize that I hear my mother in laws voice overpowering his. …. “Menachem settled, he was redt to so many rich girls,  how will he live, he deserves to learn without worries.” I don’t share this with Menachem, instead I tell him that I am doing just fine, the kids are happy, the house is clean, he is learning, and that’s all I need. I do promise him that on Sunday I’ll make sure to take time to myself.  That’s enough for him to drop the subject for the time being.

    Friday afternoon, I’m dialing my Shvigger for my weekly Erev Shabbos phone call, and I realize I have 45 minutes left to lecht benchin. My mental to do list is turning, as I hear her voice on the lone.  “Chani, how is Menachem doing, he sounded a little tired when I spoke to him. Do you really let him get up to Shimmy in middle of the night? And he told me you are thinking of buying a house? Are you sure you can swing it? I don’t want to have to  bail you out of a mortgage you can’t afford.” She forgets I eat, sleep, and breath mortgages all day, I know no one is immune, but I’m the last person to take a risk with a loan that doesn’t make senses. I wish her a good shabbos. Throw in a few nuggets of her brilliant Grandchildren’s wisdom, hang up and let out a deep breath, that I knew I was holding.

    Three quarters of an hour later, I light candles, and welcome in Shabbos and  have an epiphany. I daven for my husband and children  and then turn to give each of my children a special good shabbos hug, I let out a deep breath. I look into their eyes and I realize, I am worth it. I am worthy of my Husband, I am worthy of my children. I am worthy of self care.  I don’t need to do it all. There is nothing I can do to change my mother in law. There is nothing I can do to change my boss. I can only change myself,and maybe my inner critic too.  I promise myself that I will slow down and I will accept my husband’s help that he so badly wants to give. I will take care of me, and maybe I will even take time to feel.

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 3:07 am

    As  a fiction lover (and rarely-published writer of short fiction pieces), I want to compliment you on this piece! As I read it, I ‘let out a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding’. Literally.

    I think you could develop the mother-in-law part a lot better, and the inner self critic as well. This is great, but more emotion wouldn’t hurt. Not in a critical way, in a wow-but-you-can-make-it-even-better way.

    Keep going!

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 3:31 am

    Thanks! I’ll get on it!

  • Elisheva Halle

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 5:21 am

    I love love love the message at the end! So powerful, what a wonderful idea!

    One of the mos powerful tools I learned is the power of showing instead of telling. I posted this before but I’ll post it again here: https://jerryjenkins.com/show-dont-tell/

    I wonder if there is a way to get the message across through showing as well, like by maybe having her accept her husband’s help or brush off her mother-in-laws criticism without getting offended and thinking something along the lines of, “I can’t control her, only myself”

    Hatzlacha, love this hope to see more fiction work from you!

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 11:25 am

    That was my original plan but it wasnt happening.. I will brainstorm some more.

    Enjoys writing: I was thinking about this last night… I think the reason, I did not add emotion is because Chani doesnt let herself fee emotions as its a waste of time… but i think I can pick up more of the mother in law and self critic piece.

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    June 14, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Here goes.. second draft. Please send any feedback. I welcome all criticism..

     

    Just about three minutes. That how long my drive is from shimmy’s daycare until my office. Three minutes, just enough time to call the dentist, or the bank, or the accountant.  This morning it’s the dentist. Miracles happen, they have an appointment 20 minutes after work. Just enough time for me to pick up Shimmy, get to Ruvi’s school to sign him out and get to the dentist. A voice note convo, on the walk from my car to my desk, and my girls will go to the Rubins after school. I issue a  quick prayer of gratitude for the most wonderful neighbors possible and I wait for my computer to start up.

    I did it again, I’m logged in and working by nine. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. Half hour until the big boss walks in. Thirty minutes to review 28 emails. Piece of cake. Last Tuesday , when I left early for Shifra’s explorers fair, I had 42 emails greeting me on Wednesday morning. I let my mind wander for one moment and I think about  What am I trying to prove?  I was entitled to cut my hours after 10 years of devoted service and child number five and  I know Mr. Roth won’t notice if I respond to one or two emails a bit later in the day. Issue is, I will notice and I’m not going easy on myself now. One email inquiry took a bit of research and I have 7 remaining to clear out in 4 minutes. I’m responding to the last email, an e-mail from a grateful client telling me how they told Mr. R what a pleasure it was to work with me on their last transaction. I shoot back my auto response … pleasure to serve.. yada yada and let out another breath I once again didn’t realize I was holding. Just as I hit sent Mr. R passes by, nods a good morning greeting as he passes my desk and heads to his private office. The next six hours fly by in a flurry of emails, number crunching, and conference calls.

    I pick up Shimmy and  eat my granola bar as I navigate traffic while trying to convince  the secretary of Ruvis school to sign out Ruvi for me. I have this nagging thought in the back of my mind, if I would supervise his brushing more, maybe I could have prevented this cavity. I pull up to the dentist, send Chani Rubin a quick reminder text, and let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.

    An hour and half, and 250 dollars later I’m pulling up my driveway, while calling Chani to ask her to send home the girls.  I’m greeting, Gitty, Shifra, and Esti, listening, asking, validating, and encouraging as I pop the breaded cutlets into the air fryer, put the soup from the fridge to the flame and chop up a salad.  I look at the clock, 48 minutes until Menachem walks in.  48 minutes for spelling homework, math drills, shorahsim flash cards, Chumash review, and Kriyah contests.  At the Fair last week, Shifra’s teacher mentioned that it seems that she needs more time for Math practice. I told myself I will make it up to Shifra. It’s not her fault that I slacked off on Math. Menachem walks in as the last back pack is getting zipped, and I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding.

    The problem is that Menachem does. He gives me a look and I shrug it off although I know that I’ll be hearing about it later tonight after night Seder.  I have two and half hours to plan my defense. Two and half hours to bathe, hug, kiss, read to, and tuck in the five most precious souls out there.  Two and half hours to also clean up from Dinner, prepare tomorrow’s supper, set up five piles of  clothes and pack five lunches. Menachem walks in as I let out another deep breath. He gives me a look, and I busy myself with preparing some decaf for the two of us. As I take the creamer out of the fridge, I think of saying, “look I have self care, I have creamer. “ I choose not the waste my words.

    “Chani, Chani,” Menachem starts. “It’s absolutely amazing what you do for me, the kids, the finances, and the house, but your working too hard.”  I bristle. I feel the familiar feelings creep up on me. I don’t know what they are, but their uncomfortable feelings so I push them away. Come to think of it, I push all feelings always. Feelings waste time. Time is precious. I notice that Menachem is still talking. I force myself to focus. A good wife doesn’t space out when her husband talks. Menachem deserves a good wife.  Menachem is talking about how he wants to help out more. I should have put the dentist responsibility on him, he can take over paying the bills, he wants me to hire cleaning help, most of all, he would love to be more involved with the children. He can do bedtime, Carpools and even try homework. Each offer feels like an arrow to my heart. I realize that I hear my mother in laws voice overpowering his. …. “Menachem settled, he was redt to so many rich girls,  how will he live, he deserves to learn without worries.” I don’t share this with Menachem, instead I tell him that I am doing just fine, the kids are happy, the house is clean, he is learning, and that’s all I need. I do promise him that on Sunday I’ll make sure to take time to myself.  That’s enough for him to drop the subject for the time being.

    Friday afternoon, I’m dialing my Shvigger for my weekly Erev Shabbos phone call, and I realize I have 45 minutes left to lecht benchin. My mental to do list is turning, as I hear her voice on the lone.  “Chani, how is Menachem doing, he sounded a little tired when I spoke to him. Do you really let him get up to Shimmy in middle of the night? And he told me you are thinking of buying a house? Are you sure you can swing it? I don’t want to have to  bail you out of a mortgage you can’t afford.” She forgets I eat, sleep, and breath mortgages all day, I know no one is immune, but I’m the last person to take a risk with a loan that doesn’t make senses. I don’t say anything to her, but I am  vow to myself that I will make this transaction the smoothest ever. I wish her a good shabbos. Throw in a few nuggets of her brilliant Grandchildren’s wisdom, hang up and let out a deep breath, that I knew I was holding.

    Three quarters of an hour later, I light candles, and welcome in Shabbos, I reflect on my conversation with my mother in law and  have an epiphany. I daven for my husband and children  and then turn to give each of my children a special good shabbos hug, I let out a deep breath. I look into their eyes and I realize, I am worth it. I turn back to the candles and send up a prayer for myself.

    Shabbos afternoon, As I return the the dining room after walking my kids favorite aunt and her friends to the door, I turn back to the mess, that just a few hours ago was a beautiful neatly set table.  It’s a short day and the guests stayed late. I think that  I can do it, I just need to focus and not waste time. I smile and my delicious kiddies, and start rattling of the schedule. “Mommy is going to need about 30 minutes to clear up the table and sweep up the kitchen and dining room. I want you all to play nicely and not disturb Totty’s rest. Then we will all do our shabbos homework and kriyah practice. I have a really special surprise shabbos party this week.” Menachem, is sitting in his chair engrossed in a Sefer. I am ready to shoo him off to bed, but he beats me to it.  “Chani, I got the table and I’ll try to learn how to work this broom. Please go to our room to relax.  “ I hear a weak voice, telling me I’m worth it, and I reluctantly hand over the broom. I’m feeling a jumble of emotions. I identify the most annoying one as maybe guilt.  I remember how my mother in law, is concerned that Menachem is tired, the overwhelming thoughts are almost forcing me to grab the broom right back. I reach for it but see encouragement in Menachem’s eyes. The sweet voice in my head is gaining strength, I turn from the broom, blow kisses at the kiddies and head to my room.

     

     

     

  • Elisheva Halle

    Member
    June 14, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Love how you did the ending!

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