Leah – Our Mother

leah

Written by Aviv Ariel. For more Jewrotica writing by Aviv, check out “And Adam Knew Eve“.

Rated PG

Editor’s Note: Trigger Warning: The following post has been identified by the Jewrotica staff as containing content that may be triggering for some readers. This type of content may include body image, and anorexia/bulimia.

For more information, please consider the following resources:
Jewish Women International: Healthy Relationships and Abuse Prevention and The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Feeding Hope: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community

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A note from the author: The stories of our matriarchs live on in whispers, as the white spaces and pauses against the black letters of the Torah. Oral traditions of storytelling long forgotten, tales of witnessing and wisdom misplaced. We now can give rise to them again. In the Messianic times, the dead will be resurrected. I invite us to resurrect our matriarchs through word, song and dance. Re-accounting their struggles, successes and emotions of heartbreak, yearning, despair and hope. How did they understand God? How did they understand themselves? As Merle Feld so eloquently writes in “We All Stood Together”: “If we remembered it together. We could recreate holy time. Sparks flying.”

Praised are You our God, Ruler of the universe, who made me in God’s image.

*****

The hot wind whizzed through the stadium-sized blue canvas tent, and blew dust into the paint mixture that sat on her makeshift dresser. Watching her reflection in the jagged jigsaw puzzles of her identity, she reached back to zip up her crystal-lined purple leotard. As she peered at herself, a cracked image in more ways the one, in the remaining bits of the mirror, like the remaining bits of her life in it she saw her past, present and certainly her future. By no means was she a woman of small proportions and the reflection of the dancing hippo from Fantasia stared back at her, well that of her that fit within the perimeters of the mirror.

She sighed, conscious of the zipper and the intricate buttons and lace of the overlay bodice, aware her sigh like her emotions must be stifled, she reached down for the dust and paint mixture. She whipped theses strange ingredients together with a knife and then began applying them to her already white cheeks and slightly crooked nose. The mixture was gooey and thick and in the heat of the day, lay like the tongue of a cow on her face. That is not to say that she had ever been licked by a cow, or for that matter, by anyone. But she imagined the experience to be the same: hot, sticky wet and uncomfortable. Another gust of heat blew through the tent and shook her small shrine of what remained of her life. On one side of the mirror was a browning picture curving and withering at the corners, like a piece of lettuce that had been left out in the sun. The picture was of four people, three centered and the fourth oddly discarded to the right. She discarded.

Beads of sweat bubbled underneath her white éclair-filled, plumped arms and the space on her forehead, where the rotting sour cream paint had not yet been massaged in, glistened with perspiration. Touch, she thought: how she had dreamt of caressing touch for so many sleepless nights! But as she glanced down at her purple jelly rolls and gem-lined love handles, she imagined that no one with or without the blessings, and or cursings of sight, could find her attractive. The corner of her shattered mirror of time caught her eye, there was a picture of Marilyn Monroe, her goddess. Voluptuous and pouty, she someday hoped to achieve her status, if nothing else, at least in dress proportions. “Five minutes ‘til show time,” bellowed the oversized stomach of the master of ceremonies, whose sweat-laden mustache resembled Satan’s pitchfork.

Leah hurried to finish her makeup and situated her silkworm-textured, peacock-feathered headdress on her oblong head on top of her white cornhusk hair. She glanced one last time into the mirror, her matted down white hair, crooked lighting rod nose, cottage cheese face and eyes so light in color, she seemed to disappear into the afternoon heat. Like a mirage washed away from years of pain, and tears. Tears that had blurred her vision and made her eyes ‘weak.’ Weaker than they had been at birth, she was born albino. Invisible.

She was indeed invisible, a ghost. She had grown accustomed to this feeling after so many years of rejection by family, friends and the world. She was now only a purple pear with a purple stem, glistening wet with the late summer rain – the only rain that visited this desert of her existence. In a mixture of acceptance and defiance, she turned away from her image and began to creep towards the crimson velvet curtain of the entrance to the stage. She always hated the thousand mile journey even more than performing. She was a weed in the rose garden and the stares from the other entertainers confirmed her belief that she was a burden.

On her way she passed the shrines of other performers and each seemed to contain all their earthly and heavenly possessions. Leah wished she had something to bind her to this unloving earth.

“One minute to show time,” roared the master of ceremonies, “Hurry, the freak show is about to begin.” A blue vein popped in his forehead and he smacked her behind with his rolled up newspaper. Leah tottered in her too high eggplant heels and nearly tumbled to the floor. She thought, “So is the doomed life of those who are created in the image of God.”

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