Page 13 Cartoons

Shoshanna’s Ache

October 28, 2010

It was night, and Shoshanna was just a woman alone in bed until that clock struck midnight and she became a woman, twenty-nine years of age, whose tears were being sopped up by a pillow. Lying face down and clutching at the hollow heart hammering restlessly against her ribcage, she felt the loneliest she ever had. The imagined twinge in that overworked organ began to ache in earnest as the tears fell ever more profusely from her eyes. Wishing that she could physically reach in to hold her own barren heart together, Shoshanna heard its thin walls begin to crack. In that moment, it was as if she could feel the fissures as they formed, ominously threatening to shatter at last.
For a few years now, this had been Shoshanna’s greatest fear, dying utterly alone in bed, having only ever had pathetic, unfinished dreams of what it’s like to be kissed, caressed, held, or loved. Often times this feeling has plagued her; she has a hole in her chest, a vulnerable soft spot aching to be filled, or just touched for a brief moment of eternity.
So, Shoshanna had turned into that sad and bitter woman, the one watching love stories alone in her one bedroom apartment, silently resenting even her best friends for any trace of romance in their lives, plastering a fake smile on her face, masking her misery, at every engagement announcement. Shoshanna’s beauty had begun to wither, and with it, her chances for a fairy-tale ending, or any ending, for that matter. She was never okay with being alone, but kept telling herself that love would come … in another month, another year. And so many years ago, this periodic, excruciating ache began to torment Shoshanna.
But she kept herself occupied with idealized men whose names she never even got the courage to ask for. At night Shoshanna used to dream of them, these breathing statues made of bronze and marble. She would go into raptures at the mere thought of them. Truly, Shoshanna knew how to build gods from a fleshy, fickle foundation, gods who were so ominous and astonishing as to be entirely unapproachable. Her idle worship was destructive and the idols never responded to Shoshanna’s fruitless offerings. The truth is, one could burn the glistening shag of a thousand fatted calves, and it would reap no reward. She could kneel and pray for sweet release and pour enough libations to fill a dam, but somewhere in a ruined temple in Greece, Aphrodite would laugh unrestrainedly at her nonetheless.
Entirely cut off, and bereft of any immortals at present, she was all too desperate by far. So, she wiped away the residual tears, turned over the damp pillow, and picked up the phone. Dialing a number she had acquired more than a year ago and kept around for just such a desperate night as this, Shoshanna took a deep breath and raised the phone to her ear. With every unanswered ring, Shoshanna’s courage faltered more and more. She was ready to hang up, but was paralyzed by the sound of a male voice issuing forth from the speaker. Within, she cringed at the unmasked excitement in his voice, and was utterly repulsed by the prospect of a night in his arms, but she was lonely and hopeless, so she managed to cheerfully say: “See you soon,” before hanging up and entering into a full-fledged panic attack.
You see, this sad and sorry woman had just called the only man who ever wanted her in any terms; he had even tried to convince her once that he was in love. But no matter how hard Shoshanna tried, she just couldn’t see herself with him, couldn’t bring herself to love him or want him as he deserved. Yes, he yearned for her, and she knew it well but was totally unprepared to deal with the repercussions of so blatantly using him to assuage her longing for any intimacy. Is there anything less romantic, less advisable, than to give oneself up for the sake of the act? Shoshanna was doing just what she had so harshly judged others for doing: turning sex into a purely physical act, profaning it, as it were and she was ready to use another human without any regard for his feelings. No, this would not do, but the man was already on his way and she would have to occupy the night somehow.
For a moment, Shoshanna let herself imagine a positive outcome. He would be beautiful, a proper idol for worship, and they’d have a whirlwind romance. But that wasn’t reality, couldn’t be reality, and Shoshanna knew that no matter how beautiful or how passionate the man about to ring her doorbell was, there would be no love that night, or on any night with that particular man. Perhaps there would be lust and the foolish fulfillment of age old needs, but no love. And that was not enough for her.
Even with her heart about to shatter, Shoshanna could not bear the thought of this unwanted admirer’s touch being her first. So, when he arrived, the only man who had ever wanted her or been able to love Shoshanna, and certainly the only one available to her at present, Shoshanna did not hungrily consume his charming visage and adequate body. Offering only a cursory glance at his broodingly dark, but disconcertingly blood-shot eyes, Shoshanna smiled at her visitor, apologized, and gave him one long, slow kiss that was pure sweetness, entirely devoid of passion, for the inconvenience before locking her door behind him and returning to her now dry pillow, content to let the dull ache lull her to a sleep full of suddenly hopeful dreams in which mortals were the only actors.


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