A Sinner in the Mikveh

FU16HJEOWRI was about to be married, a thing I had never imagined possible. Why conjure unlikely scenarios when I could conjure a likely one? Instead, I had imagined persuading a future lover not to marry but to make me a child. I would win his consent by promising him exemption from all responsibility. It was a sort of hopeful daydream born of cynicism. A way of making the best of things. Because marriage had not worked for my mother, I had no business believing it might work for me. How could I be destined for anything but loneliness when what distinguished her from me was her optimism? She had expected it to last. Raised in the shadow of her disappointment, I was let loose in the world armed with the knowledge that nothing is guaranteed, a hard-won cliché that I adopted as my own like a cherished foundling.

At twenty-eight years old I wore a perfect, solitaire diamond that I disliked for its prissiness. I had chosen it to convince myself that something conventionally good could happen to me. In a case of shiny gems, I had recognized it as the one from the myth. It caught the sun, producing patterns of refracted light wherever I pointed it.

After the slew of partners with whom there had been no chance of understanding, my fiancé had preternatural intuition. Having lived in the same places and having read the same books, he knew precisely what I meant when I said, “hmmm,” staring into space. So I had reason to believe marriage possible in spite of the skepticism I’d spent so many years honing with theoretical weaponry. But our harmony was not enough to still the fear in me that something would happen to ruin it all. I became insanely jealous of his past, jealous, not of anything he might do, but of something he couldn’t deny. In fact, it was my own past I was trying to exorcize and suddenly, in the midst of researching wedding ceremonies, I knew how to accomplish it.