Sherel was grateful
to have been able to make aliyah. It had been her dream, her familys
dream, and her peoples dream. Yet, she resented how busy Rafi was prior
to their flight as well as after. Citing work duties, her husband appeared only
to have time to process utilities paperwork, obtain cell phones for their
kids, and make his own lunch.
It wasnt just
that she had had to contact the immigration office or to insist that
Rafis company supply a translator to aid her in searching for schools for
their scions. Nether was it that he had left her to single-handedly: arrange
carpools once schools had been secured, deal with furniture broken by the
movers, mange their unresponsive landlord, problematic plumbing, inadequate
cooking facilities, lack of washing machine, etc. It wasnt even that she
had had to negotiate with his companys representative about their
cars paint scratch, which she ultimately proved had been caused by a
previous leasee, or about the five, subsequent, faulty replacement cars and
their associated lock codes. It was just that her spouse seemed scarce.
While Daddy settled
into his new job, the kids had louder, more frequent sibling conflicts and
failed to cooperate with chores. Plus, those sons and daughters were crying on
the sofa as often as was Sherel.
Further, she was
worn from trying to aid their budding friendships. One daughter had a pal in
Tel Aviv, who visited. Once. Another daughter had shared a single Sabbath with
a pal from their new neighborhood. A son had had a playdate cancelled when his
buddy, who was stressed from his own move, had spent the designated hour hiding
under a blanket. As for the fourth, most nights, hed walk out the front
door and return only at bedtime.
the wife/mom visited the homes of new acquaintances, she observed working
bathrooms, courteous husbands, her hostesses clean, unwrinkled clothes,
sleeping babies, and semi-cooperative children. To boot, those other ladies
never alluded to being overcharged for goods or services or to losing hundreds
of thousands of dollars on the sale of their former homes.
After too many bags
of pistachios and too many sleepless hours, Sherel asked for help. She hired
tutors for the kids. She gave herself an allowance for small things like high
quality coffee beans and a subscription to an English-language newspaper. She
insisted, too, that she and Rafi reinstate date night. Sherel also, overall,
lowered her expectations of her offspring, husband, and self.
Decades passed. The
familys acculturation process now feels like a distant dream. The
children are grown, educated, and employed. There are grandchildren to enjoy,
too. Rafis ready to retire. Sherel had long since abandoned her initial
career for a more agreeable one.
Their lives still
dont mirror those of their friends. Their home still isnt sparkly.
Sherel still couldnt win a fashion award. However, none of those things
matters any longer.
I admit that I
doubted Emma. Her discourse was ordinarily so fanciful that it was hard to
identify the nuggets of truth embedded in it. Sure, as an English teacher, she
was wont to refer to all manner of ideas found in classic literature, but as a
biologist, I couldnt embrace those things.
No matter. She is
still there, and I am still here. Our spiritual leader had lectured that
here is merely a different version of there, but I had
usually nodded or had otherwise fought off sleep rather than absorb what he had
said. Then, which, I suppose, if our leader was right, is a version
of now, Emma and I had attended services together.
Anyway, here, there
are no wisps of ethereal material, no beatific music, and no otherworldly
apparitions. Likewise, there are no fiery pits, no shrieking voices, and no
smell of sulfur. Rather, this place is akin to a silent, white photoshoot
Moreso, here, it is
neither warm nor cold, not overly bright nor overly dim, and not malodourous
nor fragrant. This place is entirely nonaligned.
At least it was
indeterminate. Suddenly, they are parading in.
Some of them are
ragged, but friendly. Others are well kept, but hostile. The two natures line
up on either side of a platform that has unexpectedly come into being.
A few large,
prodigious presences come into view. They halt behind the dais, in a row. A
great proclamation booms above the spectacle that is them. It calls me to
position myself in front of the raised platform. I oblige.
movie screen unrolls behind the stand. Simultaneously, a bench materializes
before it. I am told to sit, to watch, and to listen.
In an ostensible
infinite amount of time, my life spools on that monitor. The version shown is
no directors cut; it is unedited.
There are frames
featuring my rescuing earthworms from puddles as well as frames of my leaving
chewing gum under school desks. At times, the story cuts away to my sticking
glue in my brothers hair or to my anonymously leaving my lunch money for
a needy classmate.
The teenage me is
portrayed as surreptitiously cursing my father and as yelling bad words
directly at my mother. My first moment of explicit intimacy is depicted.
Im also privy to the way in which I barely passed my drivers
Whats more, I
am further revealed to have been drunk at frat parties and to have been nearly
anorexic before finals. My exceedingly true movie depicts me as being left out
of tag football games again and again, plus as volunteering to tutor kids
struggling with calculus. The time that I asked someone else to write the code
for one of my homework assignments also shows up on the display unit.
My courting of Emma,
correspondingly, is there in vivid detail. A friends thoughtfulness in
buying an extra bouquet for one of Emmas birthdays and my
forgetting to invite that friend to Emmas and my wedding,
equally, are publicized.
necessary late meetings and business trips to foreign lands, during
the long span when our son and daughter were small, too, are projected. At
least, the time when I gave up a cycling race to go to my oldest kids
school play is on view as is the time when I tucked a feverish Emma into bed
and took a few days off of work to care for our children.
are condemning sounds and images, to boot, from when the kids, themselves, were
adolescents. I answered their testing of boundaries with rage and failed to
grasp why, a few years later, they called for my birthday, but rarely visited.
On balance, my flick shows that when my daughter Julie, was running out of
money because her son needed expensive chemo drugs, and when my son, Tucker,
was falling behind on rent payments, I siphoned cash to them.
considered, though, Im illustrated as caring more about the items on my
resume than in my eulogy. I was awarded numerous patents but failed to
consistently look after my nearest and dearest, let alone after anyone else in
my life. Its amazing that Emma stuck with me.
Eventually, my film
ends. I scan my surroundings. On either side of the stage, the lifeforces had
formed clusters. Some look a little shinier than before. Others seem duller.
They confer with each other for long moments.
The nonpareil voice
once more addresses me. I jump up. My seat vanishes.
The dark and light
entities, furthermore, disappear. The podium fades away. The screen, similarly,
goes missing. The landscape returns to its equivocal state.
All that I had
enacted has been captured on supernal film. All that I had said has been knit
into a celestial motion picture. As for all that I had thought, both my nice
and nasty ideations, respectively, have been preserved for posterity.
Probably, I would
faint were I not already out-of-body; losing consciousness could bring relief.
Collapsing, however, is no option without a corpus. On balance, the results of
my ordeal will be immaterial. Literally.
So, I urge you to
consider that every one of your gongs-on make a difference. Whereas its
fun to have a shiny car, a pretty wife, or a full bank account, its more
important to have a shiny soul, a pretty disposition, and an account brimming
with instances of loving kindness.
Dr. Adam HaRishon:
Leonard, Check the refrigerator, please.
Shes unstable. It would be a pity to have to recopy her.
Uncle, this projects disgusting.
Maybe. No matteryou wanted funding. You help me and I help you.
Once weve completed this research, Ill write your grant
(Someone knocks on
the lab door.)
(Two women enter
without waiting for their knock to be answered.)
Hi Cuz! Hi Dad!
Sweetie! How many more weeks til I become a grandfather?
maybe, four. Whos counting?
Whos your friend? Hi, Im Leonard...
down, Lenny. Shes not your type. This is Chava. Anyway, heres
leftovers from dinner. Aunt Shani, I mean your mom, Lenny, cooked em. As
for Chava, last night, I literally ran into her.
(Chava looks around,
notices the window, but not Dr. Adam or Leonard, and then jumps out onto the
wait for me!
Honey, dont! The baby!
(Sara climbs out the
Sara: I was in
the elevator. Met her when the door opened in the lobby.
Chava, this employment agency is the best. Youre shy, for sure, but ya
gotta get a job. Why did you climb down the fire escape, yesterday? You never
matter. We, I mean you, are next.
Sara: Hi. We,
I mean she, Chava is
Seeking? Whats she seeking?
Stop this interview. Chava doesnt look so good. Well come back
forfeit my fee, I mean and forfeit this opportunity? A Dr. Adam HaRishons
looking for someone to enter information into a database. Minimum wage. That
keep it to yourself. I need my fee.
its okay. Well deal with your job later. You might need a doctor.
Tomorrow. Well be back to sign the papers.
better not go behind my back. I could sue you for that.
Whatever. Come on Chava, were out of here.
Sara: Hi Dad!
Sara, stay away! We have the radioactive isotopes out. Both technetium
Ill stand behind this door. Can you still hear me?
Its not lead-plated. Go away immediately!
Were here about the data entry position. Chava needs work. Why
didnt you say you were hiring?
posted with an agency. Were too busy, now, with my special project to
bother with interviews.
Youve always been too busy.
youve always been a nuisance. Go away. Let the agency handle the hire.
Dont scat me Dr. Adam HaRishon, I mean dad. Im
(Chava knocks things
Sara, Leave! Take your gal pal. In five minutes, this city will be in
lockdown. I had to call the police. My Old Earth specimen disappeared last
More to the
point, this radioactive zones no place for my unborn grandchild.
(Dr. Adam starts to
Dr. Adam: My
funding and his (points to Leonard) depended on the success of my new study. I
wanted to buy the grandbaby so many things! Now, instead, my subject is missing
and even my dangerous interventions cant seem to bring her
leave her be. Shes just foreign.
Cousin, youre a nincompoop. We exposed ourselves to dangerous
levels of transmitted energy to find the girl youve been partying
dont party. Expectant mothers never party.
(Chava sighs and
then embraces Dr. Adam.)
Furthermore, Im no nincompoop. You, however, are a
Youre a dolt.
Chava of Eden? How did you breakout of the refrigerator? Theres no
inner handgrip. Please go back inside.
closer to the chief scientist. Dr. Adams eyes widen. He pulls
Chavas arm off of his shoulder.)
Leonard, Im taking a break, effective immediately.
What!? Our subjects outside her containment field. There are mere
minutes until this city locks down. Youve been exposed to unhealthy
amounts of radiation. You must stay here!
Dr. Adam: All
of that is true. No matter. Youre now in charge. Sara, come with
(Chava follows Sara
and Dr. Adam.)
back! Chava, you need to get back into the refrigerator. Youll die.
Youre already decaying. Youre not stable.
Dr. Adam: Stop
worrying, Leonard. None of us really are stable. Fundings not stable,
nothings stable. Besides, Chavas already dead.
Uncle! Your responsibilities! Your research! Your lab! Your
Dr. Adam: My
generations. While you were gawking at Chava, Sara went into labor. Im
about to become a grandfather. Im taking my daughter to the
cant enter a hospital. Youre contaminated. For that matter, you
shouldnt be so close to a very pregnant woman or to a very ancient woman,
Probably true, but irrelevant. The baby will not be born here if I can
This is not your time and place.
(Dr. Adam pushes
Chava into the refrigerator. He then flicks a switch. Through the
refrigerators transparent door, a whirl of colors can be seen. Suddenly,
the colors disappear and the refrigerator is empty.)
Father, what have you done?
Dr. Adam: Not
stepped on too many butterflies, I hope. Anyway, we must leave. I cant
wait to meet your baby.