Reverence

A173 ruby

Written by Jael. Jael, a first-time Jewrotica writer, is a mid-to-late thirtysomething with a background in academic writing. This is her first venture into erotica.

Reverence is a story and confession about spending Shabbat with a non-Jewish lover while spouse and child are away, and the contradiction between the sacredness of Shabbat while finding beauty and joy in an illicit relationship.

Rated R “…l’had’lik ner shel Shabbat.”

Alone in the kitchen, I light the candles that begin the Sabbath, breathing in the calm that immediately overtakes me. It’s a relief to not argue with an increasingly distant and unobservant spouse who sees this as a waste of time. A pair of arms envelope me from behind, and, with a kiss on the neck and a nuzzle, I’m informed that the pizza has arrived, and Jane Eyre is waiting for me on the TV.

Happily, I turn around to find that a glass of wine is already poured for me so I can finish welcoming the Sabbath. I look forward to nights like these, where things are quiet, peaceful, where all I have to do is sit back, sip some wine, and enjoy a foot rub; these Fridays are some of my favorites, precious because they don’t happen often. After all, it’s not every weekend that your family is away, and you get to unplug for 26 hours with your lover.

My Lover loves when I visit for the Sabbath. He knows that from sunset to sunset, I am his alone. My phone is off, my car keys are put away, and for these infinitely rare and amazing hours, I am his with no distractions, to touch, taste, and make love to freely. The divided attention of midweek trysts, where I am busy with work, a child, a deeply complicated marriage, these go away. On Shabbat, we exist in our own bubble, outside of time, social and cultural boundaries, able to lose ourselves in the fold of an elbow, the texture of a wrist against a tongue, a secret whispered in the dark as we climax.

This evening, he uncovers my hair as I curl up against him on the sofa, wine in hand. Sighing contentedly, I lean into him as he removes the clips, massaging my scalp with calloused fingers. His touch is gentle, making his way down to my neck, stroking the fine hairs at my nape. He runs the backs of his fingers down my arm, until I shudder and lace my fingers with his, lifting them to my lips for a kiss. As we watch the movie, fingers run up and down each other’s arms, relearning the feel of one another. Knuckles are stroked, the fine hairs on arms teased, and my fingernails are examined as if they hold the answers to everything, running a fingertip across each polished nail, pressing lightly into the sharpened end of each, with crescents left behind in his skin.

“You smell amazing,” he tells me, as he runs his nose along the pulse in my neck. “I could drown in you,” he whispers into my skin. My chest tightens, both from the erotic pleasure of it all, and the anguish of knowing that our bubble will burst, as it must, by this time tomorrow evening. I feel my throat constrict from the tears I hold back as he pulls me into his lap and stands with me, legs wrapped around his waist. As he carries me to bed, we kiss as if trying to climb inside one another, a hint of salt on our lips, bittersweet, as everything between us must be. In the background, we hear Jane tell Rochester that “I could make it as hard for you to leave me as I to leave you….” It seems the television is narrating our innermost thoughts.

His bedroom is sacred space. In here, we leave the outside world behind, sharing not just our bodies, but those parts of our souls too vulnerable to show to others, those fears that usually live within, unspoken. It is here that I discover my personal Golden Calf, worshipping him with prayers blown across damp skin, and blessings traced across his body with fingertips. He kisses my feet as he did those of a crucifix on a Good Friday long ago. No longer believing in God, but kneeling in front of me, he runs his hands across my breasts and lower belly, whispering against my body as if in a trance, and laying kisses between my thighs with reverence.

In the candlelight, nothing else matters but the taste of sweat, the smell of our arousal, the sound of a condom wrapper torn. He runs his fingertips across me as if I were one of his instruments, the feel of the callouses contrasting with the gentleness of his actions. The stretch marks I bear from pregnancy, that embarrass most women, are touched with wonder, and declared poetry on my skin. He awakens them as erogenous zones, for how can that earned in the struggle to create life be anything but beautiful?

My scars, which I apologized for the first time we were together, are now simply more texture that he can explore with his tongue. He brings me to completion again and again, my body his altar, orgasm a sacrament, until finally, he lifts me onto his lap so I can slide him inside of me. I whisper endearments, my affection, my sorrow, all in a language he doesn’t speak, as we rock together, coming undone in each other’s arms.

Afterwards, he’ll bring me a glass of wine and a cigarette, and as I lean against his chest, he’ll wrap his arms around me, and tell me that he knows our time is running out. He tells me that he knows my child is my priority, and that he understands that I’ll never be able to be with him completely. I cry in his arms as the sun comes up. “You wouldn’t be the woman you are,” he tells me as he tucks me in besides him. “Your love for her is beautiful, and she deserves to have the life you are trying to give her,” he says, as our eyelids grow heavy from sex and wine. When I tell him I’m imperfect, flawed, undeserving of his pedestal, he holds my face, kisses me and says “What you are is beautiful.”

We live in our little bubble of bliss until evening, beginning to argue over insignificant things as the day draws to a close. We scream at each other as the sun sets, a fight neither one of us recalls the cause of, making up in a haze of angry sex that just skirts the edge of pain. Pinned against a wall, we bite, yank each other by our hair to deepen kisses, and finish in his room, fully dressed, his jeans leaving me sore where I rode him, having just undone his pants enough to climb onto him, panties barely pushed aside.

We come in a fog of tears and apologies, petting each other as we lay entwined, soothing bites with kisses that say “I’m sorry” and “Please don’t leave” far more articulately than we could with words. Coward that I am, I leave when he falls asleep after, worn from sex and emotion. I kiss him gently, close the door behind me, and step into my car, aching between my legs. I pull the phone out of the glove box, and turn it back on to a torrent of voice mails and text messages, my child among them.

We never spend another Sabbath together; our relationship implodes as well, for he fears that being with me may cost me my child. Now, when I light Shabbat candles, I add a prayer for the lover who taught me that sex really could be holy, and that we all, when at our most vulnerable, scars exposed, deserve to be called beautiful.

  • Ayo Oppenheimer

    A snapshot in time, the little secrets that eventually fade into memories.

    I liked the imagery that you used, of the candles and Shabbat, and I love the quiet time you describe and how the Sabbath offers us that time on a weekly basis. Thank you for sharing your writing with us, Jael.