The Last Jewish Virgin
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Red Hen Press
Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments, Dedication, Epigraph
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Now, these many years later, I am so much older than she ever lived to be. I remember her so vividly, although I’ve not seen her for so long, and I find myself marveling anew at how close she and I once were, despite our many differences. ...
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The Bennett Institute of Art and Design was a tall, sleekly renovated building downtown on the west side near the river in a neighborhood that not too many years before had been utilitarian, unfashionable, and downright seedy in spots. But now it was upscale and chic, dotted with restaurants, ...
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Tall and lanky, oozing attitude, bearing his middle years like a sexy, ageless musician, Mr. Rock stood in the doorway of the classroom, stooping slightly to fit. He wore tight black jeans that clung to his thighs, black sneakers and a black cotton sweater, and, oddly, mirrored sunglasses, ...
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From the front of the room, Mr. Rock continued to smile at me, his teeth shimmering in the light. The eyes of everyone in the room were on me, and I guessed that I was turning the color of fire beneath my white face powder. Finally, he stopped smiling and his expression went blank. ...
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The rest of my first day at Bennett was a blur. I had one other class, English, with a mahogany-haired poet, Ms. Ginsburg—Jewish. In fact, her earnest demeanor and sensible shoes reminded me a lot of my mother. I sat quietly in her classroom, dutifully writing down the names of the books we’d be reading ...
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A week went by before my next class with Mr. Rock, during which, thankfully, I had no more dreams, images, visions, or whatever they were. But I continued to feel unmoored. Much as I tried to concentrate in my other classes—Philosophy, English, The History of Fashion—I couldn’t put him out of my mind. ...
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Another uneventful week passed, and then on Friday night, the night before I was to pose for Mr. Rock, I lay in bed, miserable, eyes shut tight, trying to will myself to sleep. As on most Friday nights, my mother was at Tante Molly’s apartment, observing Shabbat with her, lighting candles and reciting feminist prayers. ...
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On the way downtown to Mr. Rock’s studio, the subway came quickly, and I sat in the last car, which was almost empty. On one end sat a redhead in a sequined T-shirt and skin-tight jeans, her head bobbing along to music piped into her ears via an iPod. ...
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I walked as quickly as possible down the dark stairs inside Mr. Rock’s building. Outside, in the real world, it was dusk. The sky was a rose color, and the air had grown cool. A sour, rank odor assaulted me from a dumped pile of garbage on the sidewalk. I hesitated in the doorway, waiting to catch my breath, ...
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I sensed that something was wrong the instant I entered our apartment. My mother and Mike sat across from each other in the living room. Mike, his large frame scrunched into the big easy chair, wore one of his ultra-professorial outfits: a faded tweed jacket worn at the seams, and ill fitting corduroy pants. ...
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On Sunday night I lay in bed, again unable to sleep, my nerves jangly as I fitfully tossed and turned. My downstairs neighbor, a twenty-something guy with red, stringy hair, was playing heavy metal music that pounded in my ears. Rising from bed, I searched for Mr. Rock’s necklace in my purse, ...
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Bennett’s cafeteria was factory-like and jam-packed, not a particularly welcoming or inspiring place, but I joined the line for food despite the fact that I wasn’t hungry. I had some time to kill before Mr. Rock’s class, and nowhere else to go. The dismal breakfast buffet offered a choice of plain rolls, plain muffins, and plain bagels, ...
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The rest of the week, I had no visions, and I didn’t run into Mr. Rock, and a part of me was glad. But another part of me, some new part that I didn’t recognize, craved more drama and tension, and wasn’t satisfied with the mundane quality of my days. Mr. Rock had said that I possessed hidden secrets; ...
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Bennett’s library was a large, windowless basement room, empty that afternoon except for two middle-aged African American women, probably faculty members, both wearing colorful blouses and shoulder-length dreadlocks, reading silently and companionably together at a table in the center of the room. ...
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As I expected, I slept very little during the night. I was too warm, too cold, and then too warm again. My downstairs neighbor was playing classical music as loudly as he usually played heavy metal. Was he, like me, being transformed into someone he didn’t fully recognize? ...
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That night, after having watched the film numerous times, with every single nerve in my body ignited, I lay in bed on top of my blanket in my moonlit room, staring at the ceiling and listening to my neighbor’s heavy metal music below. Over and over, I replayed in my mind the love scene between the Count and Miss Lucy, ...
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All afternoon, after Colin left, I tried to draw. In my head, I envisioned a mini-dress the golden color of champagne, and composed of equal parts silk brocade and nylon mesh. But my fingers wouldn’t cooperate, and I finally gave up and watched some Fashion Week videos on the Internet. ...
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I stuck to my plan all week and didn’t return to Bennett. I spent a lot of time in bed, and also did some uninspired sketches and wasted time reading fashion blogs. I managed not to see my mother all week. Every morning I waited for her to leave before I got out of bed. She and I left cursory notes for each other. ...
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By morning, I felt somewhat better. Although weak, I was no longer shivery and cold, and my head had returned to its normal size and weight. I remained in bed and soon heard my mother tramp loudly to my door. She entered without waiting for me to invite her in. ...
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Early the following evening, after a day in which I’d avoided my mother for the umpteenth time, I forced myself to get up and walk over to my closet. The New Age Workshop was scheduled to begin in a little over an hour, and I needed to be strong in order to confront whatever awaited me there. ...
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It was a balmy fall evening, and the sky was clear. I’d calmed myself as best I could after my phone conversation with Tante Molly, and I’d taken the subway to the midtown hotel that was hosting the New Age workshop. As I stepped through the hotel doors, reminding myself once again to breathe, I spotted Colin waiting for me ...
About the Author
Janice Eidus has won two O. Henry Prizes, the Independent Publishers Award in Religion for her recent novel, The War Of The Rosens, and numerous other awards for her writing. Her other books include The Celibacy Club, Vito Loves Geraldine, and Urban Bliss, ...
Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2010