Before Viagra

(A silly treat of a story).

It’s not easy keeping a marriage fresh for 72 years. Believe me. Especially when you want kids as badly as Abraham and I did.  We tried all the latest fertility treatments: smearing lamb’s blood outside our tent, swallowing stewed mint leaves at midnight, offering sacrifices. Nothing worked. Abe took it especially hard. “I don’t get it Sarah. God promised us a son!” He’d wander off into the wilderness, mumbling.

 “Abe!” I’d yell after him. “Where are you taking that fatted calf?” We went through a lot of animals in those years.

Time passed. We settled into our habits. Abe stayed up late at night, working, coming to bed after I fell asleep. I got up early, fixed breakfast for the field hands. Finally, I went through the change; we’re talking two years of bad mood. Of course by then we knew the gig was up on children. Abe became despondent. I could hardly blame him; his name means “Father of Multitudes.” He moped around the tent all day, no appetite, no whoopee, no nothing. I chased him out. “Go, get yourself a hobby!” I said.

The next day Abe took a heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon out to the sacrificial cave. I had to do something. So I found a hobby for him: My maid, Hagar.  “It’s the latest thing, Abe,” I told him. “A surrogate.” What else could I do? It was the worst mid-life crisis I had ever seen. But the first night he went over to sleep with Hagar I lay on my blankets, listening for each small sound coming from their tent.

Couple of weeks later Abe sat down for breakfast, a huge dung-eating grin on his face. Turns out Hagar was pregnant. He couldn’t help himself.  “Told you it wasn’t me,” he said almost singing. That man is so lucky I didn’t smack the grin off his face with my kneading stone.

So Hagar begets Ishmael. Big kid. Good-looking enough. Slight ADD problem, if you ask me. But Abe took him under his wing; and I have to say, having a son rejuvenated him. Suddenly the man—who was knocking on 100 mind you—didn’t look a day over eighty. And a child, no matter whose, brings blessings to the home.

I watched them, strolling out to the fields together, Abe’s arm slung over Ishmael’s shoulders. But me, I started to feel my age. I misplaced my walking stick all the time. Couldn’t remember when Abe said he’d be home. My fingers curled up in pain and I couldn’t see well enough to sew. Death’s knocking on my door, I thought, but at least my husband’s happy. He’ll have his legacy.

One night I’m tossing in bed, figuring out how many falafels to make the next morning—Ishmael scarfs them down so fast at his age—when I felt Abe slip in behind me. He threaded his arms around my stomach. “Shall we be getting a little?” he whispered, his beard tickling my ear.

 “What, the other tent says no vacancy?” I twisted away from him.

“Sarah,” Abe said. He reached over and turned me to face him. His eyes were deep with love and his lips pressed together in that smile I know as well as my own skin. “God help me, I still want to have a child with you.” He said it so tenderly, I nearly cried. Instead I sat up and let the robe fall off my shoulders.

“Abraham,” I said to him. “Look at me. I’m ninety years old. My breasts are making acquaintance with my knees.  The lines in my face are deeper than a plow’s furrow. It would take Divine Intervention for your little Abe to stand up, let alone for me to get pregnant.”

He reached over to cup my chin in his large, weathered hands. “Well,” said my Abraham. “Then I’ve got very good news indeed.”

We laughed all night long.

Nine months later, we named our son Isaac, to laugh.

The End

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