Please enjoy this adult paranormal romance short story set in the universe of my upcoming series, The Bloodline Chronicles! It is #OwnVoices for Jewish representation and is a fun 2000-word retelling of Pygmalion and Galatea, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
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Galit Rosenbloom was a disappointment. Her mother, Penina, never said it outright, but it was always insinuated whenever she spoke about Galit’s three older brothers. Isaac was a big-shot doctor in New York City, Yehuda was an arcane engineer at a respectable witch coven, and Eli was a stay-at-home father with four children of his own and a wife who was, quite acceptably, a lawyer. Her three younger siblings were still in school, but well on their way to shining just as bright as the oldest. Then there was Galit, the ceramic arts major. Galit, who’d never been good at spells, who had no interest in medicine, and who only remembered to light Shabbat candles every other week. Galit, who decided to waste all her parents’ good money so she could squish clay around in a classroom with no real-world application.
Her passion might have been forgiven if only Galit had managed to bring home a nice Jewitch boyfriend to make her mother and father happy. She’d expected a break from the incessant nagging about her love life when Eli’s wife had popped out their last bundle of joy, but that had just made her mother’s baby-lust grow stronger. It was as if Galit’s mother were on a one-woman mission to repopulate the Jewish religion. Or at least, nag others into doing the deed for her.
Galit just couldn’t find anyone she liked. She was afraid to date anyone who wasn’t a witch, for fear of their reaction to discovering there was more to life than the mundane, and even more afraid of bringing home a goy to incur her mother’s wrath. If limiting her choices to only Jewish boys made dating difficult due to the limited population, then limiting them to only Jewish witch boys made it impossible. Almost all the ones she knew were distant cousins at best. Sure, there was Shlomo from high school, but she just couldn’t bring herself to date someone who spent his days trying to infuse spells into computer programming.
Not to mention, Shlomo had no appreciation for art. Galit could never date someone who didn’t have some appreciation for art: it was more than just a passion to her. While the magic gifts that ran in her family tended to be healing or telekinesis (excellent for surgeons, as her mother constantly bragged), Galit’s gift of telekinesis only extended to certain natural materials. Soil, sand, stone, and most importantly, clay. Clay was her absolute favorite, the way it bent to her will and brought her imagination to life in strange shapes and statues. She had to be careful with her gift while in her college classes – mundane people (‘mundies’) couldn’t be allowed to see her spells in action. So she took her classes and sculpted without magic by day, and then would stay late and use her magic by night when no one could see.
It was after a particularly annoying phone call with her mother that Galit needed the sanctuary of the school art room most. She needed to feel the tingle of magic against her palms as they molded wet clay, smoothing it from a formless blob into something worth viewing. After partaking in her favorite snack – a sweet mandarin orange that left the air smelling tropical – she slapped the clay onto a wheel and began to shape it into something beautiful. She wanted a tall, elegant vase, but all she could think of was her mother’s disappointment. For another year in a row, she had to tell her mother that she wouldn’t be bringing anyone home for Passover seder.
It wasn’t for lack of desire, she wanted to scream. It was lack of opportunity. There were no acceptable men. She wanted someone aesthetic, someone fun, someone smart… and someone her mother wouldn’t scoff at. And just maybe, someone to take her virginity.
She blushed at the thought. Everyone said it would hurt, and that made her nervous. But at the same time, she was excited for it. She didn’t want to wait until marriage like she was supposed to. She wanted a man to hold her, to make her feel wanted. Someone stronger than her to wrap his arms around her, to press her against his chest while she ran her hands over his muscles… Maybe she could skip caring about whether he was Jewish or a witch and just pluck a man out of a bar who would tell her sweet nothings and pick-up lines to get her into bed for one night. Her mom wouldn’t have to know.
She paused, looking at the clay spinning in front of her. Thank goodness no one was there to see: it had turned into a large phallus. Galit’s instinct was to smash it back into nothing and start again, but instead, she wanted it to change. Magic worked the clay and details changed from vague innuendo to realistic.
She laughed when it was done. How comical and oversized. She pressed it down into a pancake in a move that would have made any man wince. She didn’t want just the sex. She wanted more than that. She wanted a companion.
Her subconscious reached out to clay throughout the room, beckoning it forward to her hands. Magic laced through the particles of clay as she worked. What did she want? She wanted someone beautiful. Not that she was shallow, but she always appreciated aesthetics. Symmetry was the heart of human beauty, and her sculptures. Asymmetry had its place, of course, but symmetry was Galit’s king. She wanted smooth skin, as smooth as her beloved clay medium. Muscular, but not too muscular – enough to hold her up, but nothing grotesque. Tasteful.
She wanted soft lips that would tell her she was wanted. Perfect cheekbones and a powerful jawline. Galit ran a fingertip sparking with magic over his facial structure. He was… beautiful. The most beautiful man she’d ever seen. Every proportion of his face was superb, every line lifelike. She’d never created a clay face so vivid.
Her hands slid over the clay down from his face to his neck, his shoulders. They rested on his arms, feeling the strength in them despite the fact that they were inanimate. His chest was next, then down to his waist and his legs. She paused on her knees in front of her clay man, staring between his legs where he was as flat as a child’s doll. He needed something there. Not too big, like her first clay creation had been, but not small like a classic Greek statue. The clay shaped to her desires, and she took a step back, hands coated in clay.
“If only,” she whispered. Physically, he was perfect. If only he could leap to life and sit at her family’s seder dinner. He would smile and dazzle her mother by speaking fluent Hebrew and Yiddish, cast spells to help clean plates, then go home and make Galit feel like a woman for the first time in her life. The perfect boyfriend.
“Ari,” she decided aloud. “Your name is Ari.” Lion, in Hebrew. He was worthy of the title. She slid her slick hands over the art that was Ari. “If only you were real… emet.” She closed her eyes and leaned against his chest. The cold clay felt soothing against her cheek. There was just one thing she wanted different. Galit reached for one of the pieces of her discarded orange peel and put it into the clay that made up his forehead. “Now you smell as sweet as you look.”
She entwined her fingers with his and stood on her tip-toes to look into his eyes. They were gray like the material they were made out of, but she imagined them a rich chocolate brown, his hair black like onyx. After all, who didn’t like a tall, dark, handsome man?
The image in her mind, she closed her eyes to pretend just for a moment that it was real. Her lips met his. But, of course, there was no warmth. He was clay, not human. The rejection of reality made her heart heavy, and Galit pulled away, wiping her lips clean.
Then, to her surprise, the clay shifted again. Three letters appeared across his chest in Hebrew – aleph, mem, tav. It spelled the Hebrew word emet. Suddenly, her head was swamped. The world spun as if something had sucked the wind from the depths of her body and soul, and she found herself on the floor, staring up at the art studio ceiling. When the dizziness cleared, she found herself looking up at her creation and his lovely brown eyes.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
Galit blinked. “I… might have hit my head.” What other explanation could there be?
“Let me help you.”
She gulped, but let him take her hand and pull her back up to her feet. “You’re naked,” she said, averting her eyes. It was one thing to sculpt a fantasy, another for a man to be standing there in all his glory before her.
“Does that bother you?”
Galit bit her lip and forced herself to look again. “A little.”
“I don’t have any clothes to put on.”
Of course he didn’t. She hadn’t sculpted him with clothes. But how had he come to life? She didn’t have that sort of power, and to her knowledge the kind of spells it took to bring a creation to life were well beyond her ability. He was so perfect, she couldn’t stop staring. Everything was exactly as she’d made him, with one difference. The Hebrew letters across his chest, now taking the form of scar tissue.
“Emet,” she read aloud. As she did, it dawned on her. “A golem. You’re a golem?”
“I believe so. Hakol chadash bishfili.” Everything is new for me, spoken in Hebrew without a hint of an accent, as if it were his first language. He spoke Hebrew, just like she wanted. He stepped closer, concern furrowing his flawless brow. “Do you want me to wear clothes?”
Galit looked him up and down. “It’s probably… for the best. You know, around other people?”
“There are no other people. It’s just us.”
Galit’s heart pounded. “So it is.” Ari stepped closer. Could he hear her heart? Her gaze fell to his lips. “N-no one else will be here until morning. There’s a 10AM class, so Professor Khare won’t be here probably until-”
She stopped talking as Ari closed the distance between them. His hands rested against her hips, fingertips dancing against the hem of her shirt so close to her skin she could feel the warmth teasing her. A strong hand glided around her body to rest at the small of her back. It felt right.
Then they were together, lips burning for each other, hands groping for bodies. He was a part of her, in some strange way, and she needed him back on a primal level. The scent of sweet oranges around him was intoxicating, like pure pheromones. He needed her too, she could feel it in his movements. They tumbled together to the floor, his warmth overwhelming Galit as he helped her shed her clothes.
When they gasped for air simultaneously, she let out a breathless plea, “More.” He covered her lips with orange-flavored kisses, his tongue flicking against hers almost delicately before his mouth trailed down her neck, her breast, adoring her body with a reverence reserved for something sacred, or perhaps sacrilegious.
They lay together that night, bodies entangled and undulating in bliss, tremors of pleasure shaking them both to their cores. Galit expected pain, but Ari intuitively knew her body, how to make her respond without hurting her in the least. When the act was done, all Galit could do was curl up next to him and pass out from exhaustion, the taste of citrus on her tongue.
Sunlight greeted her through a skylight what felt like mere moments later. She could scarcely believe her own memory, but the soreness in her muscles told her it had most definitely not been a dream. Before her, Ari was a statue once more, but with one small difference. There were only two letters on his chest, mem and tav – met. Dead. Whatever magic had brought her golem to life had expended itself. Yet, it didn’t feel like an ending. Now that Galit knew the true extent of her abilities, she was certain her night of intimate thrills was only the beginning.
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