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More or Less: Chapter 15

Esther Kurtz

It was one o’clock now, I hadn’t cleaned up from Shabbos at all, I was just sitting on the bathroom floor — not crying, just alone

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


hifra?” Ari was knocking on the bathroom door.

I’d been hiding here since I came home from Bug Off’s offices, after midnight. It was one o’clock now, I hadn’t cleaned up from Shabbos at all, I was just sitting on the bathroom floor — not crying, just alone.

“Shifra, just answer me so I know you’re okay.”

“I’m fine,” I eked out.

“Wanna talk?”

I was quiet. What was there to say? I failed.

“Can I just sit with you?”

I was about to say no, that I needed my space right now, but then realized things were different now. I’d never really had another option, there never was anyone who cared that deeply, who was in life together with me. Ari was. I reached up and turned the knob, releasing the lock. I didn’t open the door, but Ari could take that step if he wanted to. He did.

He pushed the door open with his foot, two throw pillows in his hands. “Can’t bring food in here, but brought these for your back.”

My back? I was too entrenched in my emotional quagmire to consider my back. But throw pillows on the bathroom floor, ew.

Ari stepped inside the cramped bathroom. “Come to the living room. You’ll at least be comfortable.”

I listened only because I didn’t want the throw pillows on the floor.

I curled up in the corner on the couch, pulled my legs to my chest, and wrapped my arms around my knees. Ari settled on the couch, too.

“Wanna talk?” Ari offered again. “What happened with Bug Off?”

I took a long time breathing. Ari waited.

“It’s such an epic failure.” There were a few moments of silence. “I planned it perfectly, went through all the details and possible scenarios, gave them every plan they needed. But when push came to shove, they couldn’t handle it, I wasn’t available, and they did everything wrong.”

“So what happens now?”

“Nothing, I debriefed them at their offices, helped them make a plan for future crises. They fired me as I was leaving.”


“Yup.” I exhaled.


Thanks for confirming my loser feelings. I hugged my knees tighter, inhaling deeply, holding my breath for a count of four, exhaling and counting to four before inhaling again. It’s supposed to be calming.

“What happens now?”

I shrugged. “Dunno, I need to hire someone non-Jewish for Shabbos contingencies, that’s as far as I can think now.”

I went quiet, Ari did too.

“I dunno, Shifra,” he finally spoke. “This whole thing seems a bit blown up to me, you made a mistake, we all make mistakes. With coding it’s never perfect the first time, we look for the bugs to fix. Why are you and the exterminators getting so worked up about this?”

Breathe, Shifra, breathe. Count to four. Ari’s being useless but he doesn’t realize it, he’s trying.

“It’s a woman thing.” What else could I say to get out of this unhelpful conversation?

“Ahhh,” Ari said, like I had revealed the secret of the universe. Whatever. He just doesn’t get it. I’ll survive.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 634)


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