I do not own
I do NOT own the rights to Fiddler on the Roof
Authoress note: Sutherlin is a real town, the people I name -as far as I know - are not. Also, while it is difficult -so I've been told -to carry a child with only half a uterus it has been done (my 'sister' did it), hence the birth of Tevye and Monique's daughter.
The sun rises and slides its rays into my room - almost reluctantly- wakes me up. The first picture I see is Tevye embracing me and I am eager to get up, however, the second one makes me slink under the covers. It is of Motel. He has not ever given any verbal argument to me about my presence there and sometimes I wish he had -maybe- Tevye, and I, would have stopped and thought before we were so emotionally wrapped up in one another.
Motel's footsteps are heard, but they stop before they get to the kitchen and I pretend I didn't hear them in order to give me time in gathering my courage to face someone who had been told the previous night I would be gone. Tevye's footsteps are harder to ignore for they make me want to feel his embrace again. Tzeitel' and the children's are heard rustling around in the kitchen.
My mind rolls back to one of the first days I met Chava. She was always reading, or singing, it seemed. My friend told me of a day her sisters and she were hanging up clothes and told me what the topic was. Remembering that topic I start to sing softly, "Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch, night after night in the dark I'm alone, so make me a match of my own." I can't help but give a soft smile.
Sure, I hadn't had a some old busy-body who went around matching people up, or coming to my house yakking off topic so much they'd have left without telling me the real reason for their visit until I reminded them, but…the thought comes that my matchmaker was a young dying boy who begged me to go keep my word before it was too late.
Too late for what? To keep my promise. I think he knew he was dying and that I'd get so wrapped up in his death that unless I was already in the process of keeping it I'd never deliver on it. The box and the letter would have been neglected until it was too late. A rooster crowing makes me groan - I can not ignore the fact morning is right in front of me and I get out of bed.
I brush my hair which has grown longer since being with Tevye's family and I pile it into a loose bun with strands hanging down the sides of m face. Slipping on a simple gray dress I then put m shoes back on. Once that is done -and the bed is made- I head downstairs.
The door at the bottom of the stairs is closed and I take a deep breath before opening up. If I'd expected yelling - or chastisements- for still being there I am surprised when the children continue to eat as if nothing unusual is going on and Tzeitel looks at me with a grin filling her whole face? Tevye's daughter tilts her head towards the front room and only says 'Poppa is waiting for you'. I am convinced I am losing it.
If I thought I was losing it then what met my eyes told me I was already gone. It wasn't the site of the old couches looking new -I'd done that work along with Tzeitel just a few days before. And it wasn't the mahogany hutch or matching table that had been brought in from the barn- though it was a bit of a surprise- nor was it seeing Motel's sewing machines in the side room seen through glass windows. No, it wasn't any of that. It was Tevye sitting on the couch, his legs crossed and papers -I figured must be Chava's letter- spread across his lap along with Motel sitting on the matching couch with a smile on his face? Yup, I'd lost it.
"Come…" Once again Tevye beckoned me near him and - yet again- I complied. Once I was sitting by his side the man put his arm across my shoulders and pulled me close, " think Motel has something to say." I turned to face Motel who's face had taken on the more serious look I was used to -minus the coldness it had held before.
"Poppa's right. My coldness towards you was not based on any religious beliefs -if they had I'd have been able to make loud vocal protests against you being here, but…" his eyes lowered in regret, "I …kept myself distant because the sight of you handing over the boxes and letters to Tzeitel and Tevye was a very blunt reminder of my lies to my wife. I let it affect the way I treated you, or should I say I let it keep me from coming forward on the fact I'd been far more conservative than I'd ever cared to confess being." He stopped and found his grin again as he shook his head, "I also have to say you are the strangest Christian I have ever met." I must have looked a bit confused because Tevye chuckled.
"What he means my dear," Tevye let his other hand slide up and down my arm, "Most tell us we are going burn and rot forever and that we will never see any kind of heaven. You seem to think otherwise."
"Ya, well, that one heaven and one hell never has set right with me. I think it's just plain arrogance speaking." Both men chuckle and Motel asks about the letter.
"What about it?" I don't bother hiding my confusion, "It's not like I ever read it."
"Poppa told me about what you said to the Catholic priest, but Chava mentions your back bone in regards to a local preacher. We'd like to know what she is talking about." Motel speaks and it is clear Tevye agrees. Both men chuckle when I cross my arms and let out a 'aw, that guy was such a massive hypocrite, far worse than the other fellow ever thought of being. At least with the priest he was honestly living the way he believed."
"So? What happened?" Tzeitel asked as she stepped into the room wiping her hands on a piece of cloth.
"He started harping on…" I looked at Tevye not sure I can mention Fyedka's name, he slowly nods his head and tells me not to stop. "Anyhow, he was harping on Fyedka something fierce said Catholics weren't Christians - even though they accept Jesus as the Christ and the Messiah- told Chava she was going to burn and rot forever and then turned on me." I did not hide my exasperation, "And I was reading the Bible every day! Just wasn't attending his particular meetings. So…I told him off." I found myself embarrassed at what my temper had caused me to say -though I have not ever been able to find it in me to apologize for it.
"And exactly what did you say?" Motel had definitely decided not to stand back anymore and wasn't going to let up until I answered the question outright.
"Told him …" I glanced at Tevye who only prodded me with his finger to go on. "…that if the Lord could raise a righteous people up in the middle of the wilderness, if he could help the lay Catholic survive the Spanish Inquisition, and help the group nick-named the Mormons irrigate the Salt Lake Valley than Chava, Fyedka and I would be just fine in hell with them and he'd better bring the hot dogs, chocolate, and marsh- mellows or none of us would let him in." Once again Tzeitel gasps, but the men roar as they hold their sides. I think Tevye is laughing worse than he did in the yard.
"I think …" Motel finds his breath first, "…you probably shouldn't have said that."
"Maybe, she shouldn't have…" Tevye gasps as he finally gets some air, "But it's funny!" He doesn't get an argument there. The one holding my heart as well as my hand then speaks softly. "Chava mentions being responsible for the death of your daughter, but doesn't say how…" His voice trails off and I found myself shocked that Chava would still hold herself responsible.
"Oh, Tevye, it was accident, truly it was." I explain we'd been riding for the fun of it and that Carrie had been riding with Chava. "Everything went fine and I got down from my horse when we arrived home. Carrie begged for more and -since we were so close to my grandfather's home I saw nothing wrong it." Slowly I lift my hand and admit I remember nothing after that except for waking up in the house with the doctor leaning over me. "They said the horses spooked, but didn't say what by. My horse -I was told kicked me and that Chava's horse -don't ask me how I haven't the foggiest how not only threw them off but landed on Carrie. It as nothing short of a miracle its weight missed your daughter." I went to explain the Chava was reluctant to come into the room where I lay and Fyedka told me why. "I told her not to blame herself. Honest I did." I do not tell them what the doctor says, but keeping my mouth shut did not good as Tevye whispers - but not so low as to leave Motel out -that he knows of my partial hysterectomy.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Motel leans forward. Man, I think I liked this guy better when he kept his mouth shut and was cold. It's not really what I think, but I find it difficult to talk.
"Monique?" Tevye tapped me yet again.
"I just didn't see why I should. It's not like it was going to change anything." Tevye sighed, started to say something and then decided against it.
The children could be heard going outside in order to either leave for school, or do early morning chores. Even the littlest ones had something to do. No one spoke for a few minutes, but then Tevye spoke up once again.
"Since I made Motel get up and talk to me at three in the morning , and since the furniture you like so much is in the house, there is only one question left unanswered." He tilts my head as I ask him what that was. "When is our wedding day?"
I let out an excited yelp that could have raised the dead as I threw my arms around Tevye's neck and practically jump into his lap - poor man- it was a miracle he didn't lose his hearing, or fall off the couch. The children came running in wanting to know what the scream was all about. Tevye chuckled and -the turkey- told them "Nothing, I just told her she was going to be a grandmother." The younger children were confused, but all of us adults laughed.
I grow weary of talking so much about my past, but my daughter insists I tell 'just a bit' more- says it will help wrap things up -especially concerning her. So, I lean back in my chair not even bothering to hide the ache over Tevye's passing which occurred eight years ago.
That day on the couch we discussed not only the wedding date, but what his family back east would think. I hated the idea of him being disowned, but assured me that wasn't likely to be the case. "It's not likely you'll have any children by me and that would be the main concern for my family."
"But what if I do? I mean I have heard of it happening." I put my own hands on his beard and my eyes showed I sincerely do not want him kicked out of his own family.
"Then it happens." Motel shocks me by speaking those words. "Monique…" Tevye gets me to face his son-n-law who is not slipping back into silence. "My father-n-law is right, it's the children we would be most concerned about, but the odds are against you on that. If it happens then it's a power far greater than any of us have causing it. Though I highly suggest you two discuss what you'd do should that occur, an do it now." He no longer looks like the shy tailor Tzeitel told me courted her, but a full grown man who knows full well what he wants to say and is stepping up to bat to do. It is then Tevye speaks up.
"If that particular miracle shows up -and it's a boy- I would insist on him being raised Jewish, but …" He smiles down at me. "…if it is a girl you can decide as long as - Tevye puts emphasis on those three small words - you have decided clearly on what you believe, promise me not to align with another faith unless you are able to give it your full support." What he asks is fair enough and I give him my promise.
Our wedding is small and his family -as Motel said- accepts me based on what he has told them of the odds of me ever having a child. Few are able to travel, but all send letters. That night Motel takes his family to a friend's house allowing Tevye and I to be by ourselves for our wedding night.
"Monique…" Tevye whispers as he begins to lay me down. What he says I could not tell you for he does not speak English. Every now and then I catch my name only my mind clouds and all I can think of is his touch. "Monique…"Once again Tevye is saying my name only this time he is leaning on his side laying his hand on the covers which are laying over me. "…you are beautiful."
"I did not disappoint you?" The question is asked because -as good as my first husband treated me during our marriage - he'd complained about our wedding night.
"No, you did not." Tevye traces his fingers along my mouth and closes the gap. "Indeed you did not." With that he once again pushes the world away.
In time Motel, Tzeitel and the children went back east where they belonged. With me by Tevye's side the concern of something happening to him without someone around had lessened and Motel could no longer stomach being out west. I was almost forty by the time I showed up expecting. Poor Tevye, I think he about had heart failure, you have to remember the differences in our ages was quite vast. The man was nearing sixty-seven when told. When Dianna was born he only shook his head and said he should have known it was going to be another girl.
Dianna never felt neglected though, Tevye took her everywhere with him. That girl was her Daddy's shadow and he loved it. So -maybe- it was a blessing she and I found a faith we could align ourselves to a hundred percent after his death and not before. Tevye was a wonderful husband, my best friend, and a terrific lover, but I don't think he could have handled our conversions to another faith. In his hearts of heart I think he always hoped I'd align myself with Judaism. What had went around may have come back around, but I can't say I'm sorry…even if the fiddler had lost a step.