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The Well of Her Heart

The Well of Her Heart

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Published by silvergleam
The Well of Her Heart
The Well of Her Heart

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Published by: silvergleam on Aug 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Well of Her Heart
My father had fallen into one of his despondencies again; the illness creeping around him. Icould see the black tendrils fogging his vision, snaring his eyesight so that he looked only intothe apathetic grayness that promised him a pleasing oblivion at the same time that they trappedhim in nightmarish visions. I could only see to his comfort, arranging the pillows behind him onthe bed and placing a mug of coffee at his side, before, my voice trembling with fear and need, Icalled Michael.³Please,´ I asked him, ³would you meet me down by the banyan tree?´A phrase I had stolen from Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom, as I always misremembered it as theletters A, B and C going down to meet at the banyan tree. In truth, it was a willow tree that wemet at, and it was beside a large and glossy lake, flaming with the last tinges of a mercilesssunset. Michael came down to find me; I had spread out my skirt as though I were a goose-girland I looked into the ripples of the lake, having plashed a stone against it. I shivered as though Iwere cold and Michael took off his sweater, wrapping it around me. I looked up at himgratefully, inexpressibly grateful, the silver that shot through his kipa srugah catching thesunlight for a moment and twinkling with joy.³What¶s up, my Lisa?´ he inquired as he stretched out his long legs and unfolded himself, fadinginto a peacable darkness. For reasons I never quite understood, the darkness seemed bearablewhen Michael was around. I unfolded myself as well and leaned against him; his stolid strengthgiving me warmth and thus, strength.What we did was forbidden. This I well knew, having been schooled in the ways of shomer negiah since time immemorial, hearing always of the sin and the lustful, lascivious thoughtsconcealed behind the minds of men and boys. I did not care. All that I knew was that I need protection and wanted to ally myself with someone against the world, against the darkness thatinflamed my heart and made me tremble with despair, and it was Michael who I turned to, asMichael was the only one who knew me or understood me.He stroked my hair and I leaned against his chest; he crossed one arm protectively under my breasts. I shivered. He kissed the top of my head. ³What has happened now, Lisa?´ he asked in avery tender way, a very quiet way, and it was on my lips to thank him for the quietness, except Icould not think but for my father.³It¶s one of his moods,´ I said softly. Michael immediately understood. He pulled me closer, sothat I was on his lap, and then he played with the hair behind my ears.³Is it a bad one?´ he questioned. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. Michael had becomefamiliar with our lonely home above the bluff, the hilltop that I considered my own. My father, awidower, who had lost my mother to a bad bout of cancer, fell prey sometimes to depressionsand strange blacknesses of mood that I could never predict with accuracy. Of late, it had beenmore prevalent, and I was frightened. Though there were many in the town who would reach out
to us, wishing to help us, I was proud and did not wish them to see my father this way. And so I pretended I was fine, believing I was- to all but Michael.³Do you know what brings them on?´ he questioned and I shook my head, my lips quivering. Iwas struggling not to cry. As I had been bullied when I was younger, I had taught myself not tocry, not to lose face, and so it was imperative for me never to do so. Not even before Michael. Icould trust no one, least of all Michael, with my weakness. The strength of his touch held meagainst a world I could not otherwise envision; in the darkness and the dusk that set in against thesunset, I found myself cradled and held and it was with a sense of relief that I snuggled againsthim silently.He was quiet for several more moments. A tall boy, his brown hair fell in straight smooth layersthat fanned out across his head. Ordinary brown eyes and cheeks spattered with freckles madehim seem very typical, hiding his special qualities. His pants were a plain black cut; his poloshirt was blue. His tzitzit peeked out from beneath the shirt; I reached for them to soothe me. Iran my fingers across the long entwined strands, looking at the blueness of the one thread amidstthe others. This was the tekheles, the one that was precious to God.³I¶m never able to be a help to him in these moods,´ I confided. ³I try my hardest but I fail. Andhe¶s too proud to seek treatment- Prozac, Zyrtec, who even knows what the drugs are called? Idon¶t even know if they could help him. I think sometimes these moods are his way of mourningmy mother- of course, that supposes that he¶s able to control them. Which he isn¶t,´ I concludedquietly.In the darkness, all you could make out was our silouhettes, entangled and entwined beneath thecomforting willow. She bore down at us, the wind sloughing through her leaves making a sweetmusic, the reeds gracefully shaking. There was a soft beauty in the dance the willow performedand it washed over me and strengthened me. I was afraid, and the fear bit into me. It lived withindesperately, even though I struggled to master it. Michael spoke to my fear.³Lisa,´ he said softly, ³your love for him sees him through. There is nothing you can do what thedark side of God crosses his path; he cannot be treated unless he wishes for treatment. And youyourself seem aware that he does not.´I nodded. ³Nevertheless,´ I explained, ³I feel that with me being so often away at college-³The summer tugged at me, tugged at him, knitting our hands together. I twined my fingersthrough his. ³Don¶t blame yourself,´ he suggested, ³for attempting to continue with your ownlife. You have talked to him; you have tried to convince him. What more can you do?´³I was thinking perhaps I could go see the doctor myself. Maybe persuade him to give me the pills and crush them up and put them in his food.´³And then what would happen as soon as you went back to college again?´ Michael questionedand she shrugged uncomfortably. It was difficult, seeing as she still lay against him, so the shrugwas more of a ripple of the arms as they moved against his chest.
 ³I know that he is the one who needs to seek treatment,´ she said, ³but I don¶t know how toconvince him it is necessary. All that I know is that these dark nights of the soul are a torment tome; that all I wish was that I had the means to make him well again.´ She hid her face from him, buried it against his sleeve. The weave of the polo shirt was softer than it was scratchy; it wasclear that he had washed the shirt a couple of times.He sighed. ³Lisa, Lisa,´ he said comfortably, familiarly, just as he had said her name many times before. It was two years now since he had begun dating her and he was as familiar with her fearsas he was with her joys. He knew that she hid her head against his sleeve because tears had comeinto her eyes; there they dangled precariously and she was frightened lest she shed them.His arm tightened around her back and he pulled her closer, nestled her against him. ³I wish thatyou would cry,´ he whispered in her ear. ³It is not good to be so strong.´She was silent; she could not speak; her voice choked with emotion.She remembered the teacher with her sinuous grace, her eyes wild and raving as she stood beforeher, threatening her. She remembered the teacher but not the words. She saw the woman in her mind¶s eye, saw herself, feeling threatened with tears streaming down her face. She felt sick,nauseous, as though she had to vomit. She contained the feeling. She couldn¶t remember thewords and that troubled her. If she couldn¶t remember the words, perhaps the memory was false.Perhaps it had never happened. Perhaps her mind was playing tricks on her.This was her great fear, that she had invented a past that had not quite happened that way, buthad enough truth to confuse her. She wondered at times whether the things she had believedhappened had really happened, surprised by the joy and wonder so many of her other classmatesseemed to feel. She did not understand why she alone was touched by these unhappy thoughts;she would not accept that it was because she was different that she had been brutalized. Instead,she wondered whether perhaps she was going mad. Perhaps her father¶s malady had touched her as well; perhaps it was inherited. Yet in her it did not manifest as depression, but rather as a formof psychosis.She shook her head, clearing the thoughts away like cobwebs. Michael looked at her face andseemed troubled by something he saw in her eyes. ³What is it?´ he questioned.³Nothing,´ she answered brusquely, not wanting to explain it to him.He stood up. ³I know that is not true,´ he answered quietly, brushing the dirt from his pants. Hewas careful not to look at her, knowing she would not want to be viewed in her exposed,vulnerable state, the sheen of tears in her eyes.³Nothing I want to talk about,´ she clarified. He nodded.³I¶ll walk you back to the house,´ he said. She walked briskly ahead of him; he followed. Sheshould feel grateful to him, to his solicitude, his desire to see her safely home. Instead she felt

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