"The night of her wedding, Esther the Soothsayer became pregnant. She dreamt of a bird with blind eyes and silver wings--a giant who flew toward her out of the red desert sky and sent rats and scorpions digging the earth in their fury to hide. It came closer, its wings shimmering against the light, and just as the sun was about to rise, the bird landed in Esther's hands. It had a woman's breasts.
Esther the Soothsayer woke up and touched herself. Her face and neck were covered with moisture. Her hair had clung to her throat as if to choke her. She felt her stomach, her groin. She closed her eyes. It was dark. She saw her child.
She told Isaac that she carried a boy, that it would look nothing like anyone had ever seen. She told him that he would be wise, that he would bring honor to their name, that he would walk in the sun one day with his arms full of glory and his eyes full of pride. Isaac wanted to believe her, but all of Juyy Bar was laughing.
The child, they said, would come before its time. It would look like an Arab, or a stranger, but nothing like Isaac himself. It must have been conceived out of wedlock--from Isaac, or perhaps another man. Esther must have come to Esfahan pregnant, run away from her own town to hide her shame and find a man simple enough to marry her.
"Watch yourselves," Rabbi Yehuda the Just warned the women of Juyy Bar in his sermons. "A child conceived in sin will bear the mark of his mother's dishonor."
Thick pissing Isaac began to doubt and could not stop himself. He loved Esther, loved her smell, the echo of her voice. He wanted her and wanted the son she had promised him and he would have been content if only the ghetto had let him. But after a few weeks he could not help looking at Esther differently. He went to see Yehuda the Just.
"You must wait before you judge," the rabbi advised. He was trying to appear calm, but his eyes, Isaac would remember later, gleamed with excitement. "Count the weeks of your wife's pregnancy and mark the day she delivers. If she comes short of nine months and nine days, she is carrying a bastard. Then come see me and we will return just punishment."
A month went by, then another. Every night when he lay down, Thick Pissing Isaac put his hands on his wife's stomach and prayed that the child she carried was his. Then he went to sleep, leaving Esther terrified, awake, trapped. She knew the rumors about herself and the child. She knew the fate of adulterous wives. She had named her son Noah. She begged him to wait a full nine months before he claimed his place in the world.
But in the seventh month of their marriage, Esther the Soothsayer woke up one night to find her bed full of blood. She ran to the basement and locked the door.
She endured the labor pain alone, without a whisper, and for three days she did not leave the basement. She sat crouched above a tray full of ashes, dug her nails into the hard ground, and vomited with the force of every contraction until all the darkness had been jolted out of her and all her fears were purged and she felt nothing but the warmth of the child sliding out between her thighs.
Esther the Soothsayer wrapped her son in her chador, then buried the placenta. Outside, Yehuda the Just waited. She opened the basement door and walked toward her fate."