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[STORY] Damsel in Distress (Update #11b on 26 Teves - p. 16)
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amother




Forestgreen
 

Post Fri, Oct 08 2021, 10:53 am
Wish you could publish this. It's great. Can't wait to see more...
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theotherone1




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 12:42 am
NO!! Why did you stop? It's not fair to make us wait for more!!!!
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amother




OP
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 12:43 am
If only you knew how hard it is to write the second date... Wink
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amother




Steelblue
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 4:39 am
Omg so much I can relate to.
Feeling trapped in this covid world with the feeling that there is no ideal choice in my situation. (I'm a Canadian reluctant vaxxer and will soon be barred from planes).
Getting used to insane quarantine situations and pretending everything is normal.
Mostly, I'm currently having a frustrating extended nidda time in which I'm struggling to stay appropriate yet connected to my really nice husband rather than disconnecting completely.
Thanks for sharing, this was helpful in my situation.
Can I suggest some plot lines?
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amother




Steelblue
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 5:28 am
Please disregard if you prefer a different plotline. Also I'm really not a good writer and don't get the medical stuff, but here goes.

How about chava has another attack the next day. She feels dread at it coming in as she pushes the button, not so much from the attack as from the confusing emotions of having Eli come help her. As Eli hears the alarm, his heart sinks as well as he stands confused for a moment. Berke standing nearby notices the momentary hesitation and asks Eli "would you like me to take this one?" He asked, as comprehension dawned on him.
" Yeah, " Eli sighed and blushed.
"I got you, brother" berke answered and ran to the room.
[Insert medical part of the attack here]
"Where's eli?" Blurted chava's as she got back to herself.
" Actually, never mind" she stammered. Where could be be after all? She thought, Gosh, I hope I didnt just let the cat out of the bag. This has potential to be even a stickier situation that it already is.

The next meeting

Eli tries to bring up various topics but they fall flat. As much as he is impressed by chava's strength of character throughout this ordeal, doubts start to creep in that they can make this work.
"Chava," he starts again awkwardly
" We're in a very unusual situation. We all need to get married very shortly. I respect you very much for how youve handled this ordeal up until now. "
Eli takes a deep breath,
" I'm super relieved that you made it alive to this point and I want the best for you" he continues "this is difficult for me to say, but I may agree with you that I might not be the right guy for you. I want you to be happy, no matter what it would cost me." Eli paused for a moment, " what are your thoughts about us continuing to try? "
For the first time chava looked up straight at eli. " just as is wasn't appropriate to connect earlier, it IS appropriate and necessary to let go now" she told herself.
Their eyes met and she didn't look away. she couldn't busy herself with something else if she wanted to. Suddenly a flood of feelings washed over her. chava suddenly knew that she didn't WANT to busy herself with anything else. Eli wants to talk to her! He would keep her company on those endless days. she's love to hear his perspective on the many thoughts that swirl in her mind. No, not berke, not shmuli, not yossi, just eli. She poured out her tortured feelings with her eyes, as there were not enough words to express the surge within her.
Sensing the change in atmosphere, relief washed over Eli.
" if your ok with it, I'd ask the rebbetzin if our wedding can be first" chava said as she blushed. "I need this situation over asap"
" absolutely," whispered eli " you've been alone yet not alone for too long. Come."
And the both hurried out of the room to share the good news
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amother




OP
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 7:21 am
The Second Date

When you're used to filtering your feelings, shutting off the filter can be very hard. Not having anyone to express them to makes it even harder.

As much as Chava had been longing to have this time to journal her thoughts into clarity, she is soon frustrated with the sheer enormity of the task. As many emotions as she manages to get down on paper, more and more keep surfacing, and even after hours of frantic writing, she is left feeling unsettled.

At last, defeated, she slams her journal shut. There is a time to deal with your feelings, she thinks, and a time to silence them.

Chava pulls out her paints and a fresh canvas, hoping to indirectly deal with her turbulent emotions. The canvas is soon splattered with blobs of paint in no order, a cacophony of color that matches how she is feeling. Frustrated, she rinses her brushes and puts them away, not feeling any better.

Hesitantly, she pushes open the door. Nobody is sleeping yet. The room is full of small pairs or clusters of bochurim in low, intense conversation.

She slips past them, feeling a wave of jealousy sweep over her, and enters the kitchen. Methodically she puts together a batch of chocolate chip cookies, feeling herself relaxing at the predictability and orderly beauty of it all. She treats herself to the very first cookie, grateful for every gooey bite. By the time the last pan comes out of the oven, she feels calm enough to go to sleep.

----

As per Rebbetzin Cohen, the second date is supposed to be centered on values and goals. Apparently the boys were given the same memo, and the date begins smoothly.

The conversation is going well, and Chava begins to feel at ease as they discuss Chinuch approaches, hashkafa, and ambitions.

She is passionately sharing conclusions from her summers as a counselor, when she suddenly grimaces and stops mid-word.

Eli is on his feet with his mask in hand almost before she has a chance to register what is happening. He pushes the table and chairs aside and tells her to lie down on the floor. Chava knows she has no choice. Dumbly, she submits to the rescue breaths. It takes seven endless minutes before she can breathe on her own.

As the episode ends, she has to fight an urge to roll over and hide, or maybe just run out of the cell and back to her room.

Instead, though, face burning, she stands up shakily and resumes her seat.

Eli continues as if nothing has happened. "You were saying about the questions the girls were asking?"

But something has changed. Chava feels a nebulous anger rise in her chest. "We're not discussing that anymore. I'm done with the topic," she snaps.

With raised eyebrows, Eli tries to change the subject, but is shot down again.

After several aborted attempts at conversation, Eli finally asks point-blank: "Are you angry at me?"

"NO!" Chava practically snarls.

Eli takes a deep breath. "I'm guessing that whatever you're angry about has to do with the resuscitation?"

Chava opens her mouth to say something, then closes it and nods mutely.

"I hope you don't mind if I ask this, but I have sisters…" Eli says carefully. "Do you know what you're actually angry about?"

That gives her pause. But after a few moments of thought, she nods again.

"Do you mind sharing?"

Chava doesn't respond right away. Then she says with some bitterness, "I'm angry… angry that I've lost my identity. I want to be a person, not a patient."

"I already feel that way," Eli says gently. "But I'm not sure that you do."

Chava doesn't answer, and Eli is quiet, thinking.

Finally, he sighs. "Maybe we'd better discuss this openly. It's not typical date material, but…" he drums his fingers on the table. "I guess we can't really pretend that history didn't happen."

Chava looks down.

"You know what," Eli says, "let me try telling the story from my perspective.

"I was drafted for this study, as you know. I was told I'd get a frum male roommate, no other details provided. Instead I ended up in this building. We were told we'd have to sleep in the hallways because there was no good alternative.

"Then a girl volunteers to host ten of us so we have a minyan. She gives up her room, her privacy, and quietly cooks and cleans for us and lets us take over her apartment as a yeshivah.

"One day, we see she needs help. We help her. The end."

"Sorry," Chava rejoins, "but you're majorly oversimplifying things. This wasn't help. This was 24 hours on emergency notice for months."

"So what? Taking in seventeen bochurim is also a major job."

"Not a 24 hour one, and not so vital either. You figured things out just fine when I was out of commission. And anyhow, the other bochurim said thank you for the cooking and cleaning, and that was good enough."

"So maybe I'm just better at Hakoras Hatov?" Eli asks with a small smile.

"Good for you," Chava retorts. "And I'm supposed to have so much Hakoras Hatov for your Hakoras Hatov that I marry you?"

"You said it, not me," Eli grins.

Chava has to laugh. "No, really! That's supposed to be a basis for marriage?"

"Well, there were plenty of marriages like that in previous generations."

"Mazel Tov, but I don't live 500 years ago."

Now Eli gets serious. "Neither do I, and Hakoras Hatov is a two-way street. We could both find someone else, and you know it. There are plenty of nice bochurim, and I'm going to assume the same amount of nice girls."

"And your point?" Chava asks.

"That nobody is asking you to get married on any basis other than if you think it's a good match. And nobody is asking me to do that, either.

"You asked before about patient versus person? It may be a chisaron of mine, but for me… I've never had a patient. I've helped a lot of people Baruch Hashem, but no patients."

"That's beautiful, but I don't buy it."

"What, that I've seen you as a person the whole time?"

"Yeah," Chava responds. "And if you did, I'd question your motives regardless."

"To be honest, it was for the cookies," Eli jokes.

Chava can't help smiling.

Eli continues earnestly. "Listen, I was raised to believe that every Jew has a neshama from the same source. And that a Jewish body is holy because it holds that neshama. I do what I do because of that.

"Sometimes I get more or less emotionally involved, but at the end of the day, I do it because they are a fellow Jew.

"That's probably the same reason why you took us all into your apartment, right?"

Chava nods her confirmation, somewhat abashed.

"So," Eli concludes, "I guess we're discussing values after all."


(to be continued...)
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amother




OP
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 7:23 am
Thanks for all the feedback so far!

Link for anyone who prefers PDF: https://we.tl/t-oefXg5cHbH

ETA: Story continues later on this page
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amother




Steelblue
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 9:34 am
Sooo much better than what I thought up of!
Love the romance with hashkafa.
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Ridethewaves




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 10:10 am
Thoroughly enjoying the read! Thank you! Please tell me there’s more!
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amother




Lightgreen
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 12:22 pm
Totally hooked. Please please update, I didn’t see the earlier version suspense!! Also are there more of these novellas on imamother? So refreshing for the introvert in me! I remember the Jewish potter one a while ago was that ever finished?
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amother




Feverfew
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 4:28 pm
Thanks, OP for posting this!!! kept me hooked until the end... I hope it will get more romantic and intimate... Can't wait for the next part!!!!!!!!!!!
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amother




Honeydew
 

Post Sun, Oct 10 2021, 4:43 pm
nooooo please keep it clean Smile
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amother




Lightcoral
 

Post Mon, Oct 11 2021, 12:06 am
Love this story so much!! It’s so creative, and so so captivating! I can’t wait for the continuation!! You are an amazing writer, really bringing it to life!!
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amother




Lightgreen
 

Post Mon, Oct 11 2021, 1:58 pm
I’m sorry… I’m bumping. I know, torture. I need to know how this ends! Anyone else want to pressure op with me 🙈.
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amother




Razzmatazz
 

Post Mon, Oct 11 2021, 2:26 pm
So interesting! You’re very talented op! 👏👏👏👏
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Oct 11 2021, 2:34 pm
amother [ Lightgreen ] wrote:
I’m sorry… I’m bumping. I know, torture. I need to know how this ends! Anyone else want to pressure op with me 🙈.

Lol, don’t get too excited! I don’t know how it ends either! I have the next scene/chapter as a rough draft and only the first few lines of the following one. Thanks for the nudge, will have to steal some time to work on it!
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Cookiegirl




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Oct 11 2021, 2:38 pm
Really enjoying it...well done!
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amother




Lightgreen
 

Post Mon, Oct 11 2021, 2:39 pm
Hi, no problem I’ll proofread the chapter for you Smile . You’re writing is effortless and engaging . Seriously I wish I could write like you!
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amother




Azure
 

Post Tue, Oct 12 2021, 12:37 am
I definitely have a crush on Eli! Wish I had a man like that in my life...
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amother




OP
 

Post Tue, Oct 12 2021, 4:35 am
Love another Jew like you love yourself

Chava is very thoughtful as she follows the bochurim back upstairs after the date.

She goes directly to her room to unpack all that occurred. Mostly she is surprised at the burst of anger that somehow supplanted her usual gratitude.

After some rumination, she concludes that it was partially a consequence of not censoring her emotions. But even more, she realizes, it came from a place of fear. She is afraid that the uneven dynamic could threaten a real relationship.

"It's not 'Do you want to marry him or not,'" she tries to remind herself. "Just, 'Do you want to meet him again?'"

The answer, as she admits to herself, is yes. And not for external reasons, either.

----

Outside of Chava's studio, the mood has shifted. Unbeknownst to her, the bochurim have taken to joking around, trying to lighten up the tense atmosphere.

Predictably, it doesn't take too long before they start guessing who is going out with the one girl they are all aware of. As more and more bochurim declare their innocence, it soon becomes abundantly clear who ended up with the shidduch.

Eli soon finds himself at the receiving end of plenty of good-natured teasing, which he does his best to parry well.

As Chava goes to the kitchen to refill her water bottle, she overhears one of the jibes.

"Nu Eli, that's one way to keep a patient forever! That should give you a guaranteed income!"

Her face freezes. Not looking at anyone, she finishes her mission as quickly as possible and goes back to her room.

Eli notices her frozen expression regretfully. It's a touchy subject for her, he knows. Aloud, he counters, "Well, here we can't really rely on father-in-laws, right?" The room bursts into laughter.

----

Sitting on her bed, Chava tries to ignore the levity outside her room.

The ill-timed joke reveals the unpleasant truth: It does still look like a doctor marrying his patient. And that's not what she wants for her marriage.

With a sigh, she considers how to explain to the Rebbetzin that this match just isn't going to work.

It's not like there's anything wrong with Eli. He's definitely one of the more refined bochurim, seems smart, level-headed and kind. But four months of lifesaving make for a very lopsided relationship.

If only... if only she had never gotten sick.

Chava digs deep under her bed and pulls out the very first notebook she had used as a diary, when she was first sent here on her own. She flips through pages of angst, lists of resolutions, and finally finds what she is searching for: The qualities she hoped to find in a husband.

- Good middos
- Yiras Shomayim
- Sense of humor
- Wants to make a difference in the world
- Responsible
- Smart
- Willing to learn from others
- Tries to grow


She always had envisioned herself marrying a teacher or a Rabbi, not someone in the medical field. But still Eli checks all the boxes.

If only she had never had that stupid tumor, she would probably have been thrilled to find someone that was just what she was looking for. Even if she met him in the real world, outside of the prison that was Building Three.

"Hashem, it's not fair!" she finds herself protesting soundlessly. "You gave me just what I wanted, but You messed things up in advance so I can't have it!"

Miserably, she looks at the page in front of her. Eight characteristics, eight ways of describing Eli. But she was his patient, forever would be, and could never change that to become a wife, a friend, an Eizer Kenegdo.

And she wishes it wasn't that way.

"I always saw you as a person," she hears Eli saying in her mind.

"But you don't," she mentally responds. "I know what you're really thinking."

The ludicrousness of that statement shakes her back to her senses. DOES she really know what Eli is thinking, better than he does?

Chava crosses her arms and tries to think rationally. Yes, it is true that Eli saved her life hundreds of times. But if he is telling the truth, he did so to help a fellow Jew, not because he saw her as an inferior being in need of his superlative skill.

So where does the whole imbalance come from? "Your own mind," she points out to herself ruefully. "The grasshopper mentality."

Chava gives her head a shake. It isn't easy to admit, but it makes a lot of sense.

She thinks back to the days she sat in her room, too weak to do anything productive. Apparently, Eli still saw her as a person who needed help, while she had started seeing herself as less-than, because she wasn't contributing.

Not a fine display of Ahavas Yisroel.

Does she really believe that a person's value rests in how much they produce? No, she realizes. She sees the same intrinsic value in a homeless beggar, an old woman in a nursing home, and a child in school. All possess the same type of soul.

So it would only be fair to accord the same consideration to herself, right?

Resolutely, Chava writes in a fresh page of her diary. "I am a person of value, I was a person of value, and no matter what happens to me, whatever I do or don't do, I am always a person of value, created by Hashem."

Her heart feeling lighter, she looks back at her eight-point list. Maybe it's still a possibility, she thinks.

----

Even before davening, Eli approaches Rabbi Cohen. "Can I please talk to you?" he asks. Rabbi Cohen hears the desperation in his voice.

"Sure, Eli," he answers. "Can it wait until after Shacharis?"

Eli agrees, and as soon as davening is over, Rabbi Cohen finds a quiet corner and asks Eli to sit. "What's going on?"

Eli tries to describe the situation. The backstory, the way she understands him, their shared values. And the sticky part — the fact that she can't seem to accept his help without feeling demeaned.

Rabbi Cohen strokes his beard. "That's how it really is," he says regretfully. "It is much easier to change our perception of another person than to change our perception of ourselves."

Eli nods. "I'd just look past it, but it really seems to bother her."

"Truthfully, if you told people you wanted to drop the shidduch because of all the baggage, nobody would fault you."

Eli flinches, and Rabbi Cohen holds up a hand for patience.

"But if you ask me, baggage is overrated. I actually like the word 'baggage' because I think it's the perfect mashal.

"The Aibershter gives us all baggage throughout our lives.

"What matters is not so much THAT we have baggage, or even what's in the baggage, but what we plan on doing with it. If we recognize that it's from Hashem and it has a purpose, we'll be fine.

"You can be shlepping a sack of rotten potato peels with you, and if you're just looking for a field to put them in for fertilizer, then they're good.

"But if you have a sack of apples, and you're planning on carrying them with you until they all rot so you can complain about the weight and the smell, then you haven't used it right.

"Chances are you'll find some diamonds in whatever baggage you are given. And of course, whatever you do with what's in your baggage, having carried it along will automatically make you stronger.

"The medical history you describe to me is baggage. Boruch Hashem it sounds like it's in the past. From what you're telling me, she seems to have good attitudes in general, and Im Yirtza Hashem she'll get there with this also."

Eli smiles.

But Rabbi Cohen looks serious. "However, I'm more concerned about something else.

"I'm sure you've heard of a trigger." He pauses and waits for Eli's confirmation.

"In this case, it sounds like YOU might be triggering a lot of negative feelings.

"With time, a person can get past a trigger too, but it isn't as easy. If something is painful, we try to avoid it. And that could be a very rough start to a marriage."

Eli looks stricken. "So would it be kinder for her if… if I called it off?"

Rabbi Cohen lifts his arms. "Only Hashem knows what is good for her and for you.

"Here, it seems that this is a major obstacle in the way of the shidduch. It could be it's from Hashem, to protect you from a wrong shidduch.

"Or it could be a test.

"At this point I think we need to daven that Hashem give you clarity. You're going to be having a third date later today. If it seems that this issue is getting smaller, lichora it would seem that you don't have to worry about it. If the issue seems to be getting bigger… then we'd have to reevaluate.

"Hatzlacha."

A little dazed, Eli thanks Rabbi Cohen and joins the rest of the chevra at the breakfast buffet.

He finds himself whispering Tehillim by heart as he puts together a plate, barely paying attention to what he is taking.

Thankfully, many of the other bochurim are similarly lost in thought.

----

Eli sits nervously in the cell. He smoothes his beard, adjusts his hat, and plays with the tablecloth, waiting for Chava to be brought in.

When she finally sits down, Eli opens his mouth.

But before he can say anything, Chava speaks, not looking at him.

"I, um, I wanted to say that I was thinking about what you said last time.

"I realized that you're right. Helping someone doesn't mean seeing them as less than. I'm sorry for getting angry, I was projecting how I felt about myself.

"I decided I'd better work on my Ahavas Yisroel to myself too."

Eli feels a deep sense of relief.

"Thank You," he murmurs.

Chava blushes.

"Do you—" Eli begins, then cuts himself off.

"What?" Chava asks.

Do you want to get married, Eli doesn't ask.

"Do you want to continue the discussion where we left off last time?"



(To be continued...)

ETA: Continues here
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