The Pledge (16)

We will have to skip on the cupcakes to celebrate post #200, but feel free to read on the next installment of The Pledge. You can click here to read from the beginning. And thanks for stopping by. 

3.

The house seems darker tonight, as Tamar sits at the table, waiting on Er. Ofra had gone to bed hours ago, leaving her mistress pondering her next words. It had been a year since she had wed Er, a year since she had given her heart to him. Every night she lies down, remembering the day they met, the day she married, wondering what happened. If he didn’t love her, then fine, so be it; but to do this to her – to run around, sharing his seed with the women of the city instead of her…well, it was time to confront him.

His deeds had been confirmed earlier that week, when she went to the market with Ofra. She had been looking at silk cloths when she overheard the shopkeeper’s daughter talking to another girl her age.

“He came over again last night.”

The other girl bears a shocked expression on her face.

“He’s married.”

“I know,” the shopkeeper’s daughter remarks, her voice quiet, wistful. “But he loves me.”

Tamar continues browsing through the cloths, knowing she shouldn’t be listening. But there was a sick feeling within her that told her she needed to hear it.

“Then he has a funny way of showing it, because I heard he’s been with other women,” her friend whispers.

“That’s just jealousy speaking.”

“Hardly. But even if he did love you, his father will not allow him a divorce.” The second girl pauses as Tamar closes her eyes, afraid of what is coming next. “No one crosses the Judah ben Jacob, not even Er.”

Tamar’s stomach churns violently. She clutches her midsection and runs off away from the shop. She hears Ofra calling her, but doesn’t stop – not until she reaches a dirty alley way. Unable to hold in the contents of her stomach, she bends over and throws up. She hears footsteps, then feels a cool hand upon her back. Still her stomach continues to agitate and force up what little is left of her morning meal.

“Mistress.”

There is concern in Ofra’s voice. Tamar wipes up her mouth and stands.

“Are you alright? Should we go back home?”

Tamar considers the word just briefly, knowing her house was anything but that. Oh, that she had stayed home, happy in her ignorance. But her life was far from blissful and she was not unaware.

“You knew, didn’t you?” she asks Ofra. She doesn’t even try to stave off the anger in her voice.

“Knew what?” Ofra asks.

“You knew my husband was sleeping around,” she clarifies, accusingly, moving towards the young girl. “Were you one of them?”

“What? No, Mistress, no,” Ofra cries, backing up against the wall behind her.

“Did you know then?” Tamar asks again.

Ofra turns her gaze down, away from her.

“I…I…heard things, in the marketplace.” She looks back up and makes eye contact. “Much of it is gossip, though.”

“You knew,” Tamar says quietly, the edge leaving her voice. Because the truth was, she knew too.

“Yes, Mistress,” Ofra finally admits.

Tamar nods and starts back in the direction she came, turns back towards home.

Now up, well after all others had gone to sleep, Tamar replay the words in her head that she plans to confront Er with. Was she stepping outside her bounds by doing so? Er was her head, she was his property. Still it did not give him the right to commit adultery. And it wasn’t as if she wanted charges brought against him. She simply wanted him to stop; to come home to her and stop. That would be enough for her. He didn’t have to love her the way she loved him, he just simply had to come home.

The door opens and jars Tamar out of her thoughts. Startled momentarily, she only stares at Er as he makes his way into the house. The smell of fermented drink follows him in. He staggers around for a bit before he finds his footing and realizes Tamar is there.

“Why are you up?” Er asks her.

Tamar suddenly reconsiders her actions. He was home – isn’t that what she wanted?

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