SDS Envy: “Two Tales of Envy” by E. J. D’Alise

If you are new to the SDS Challenge, a little background.

Three writers will each write one story a month going down the list of deadly sins. The stories can be anywhere from 666 words to 6,666 words in length, although those numbers are not set in stone. If ambitious, the writers will provide accompanying graphics. These stories will not be anonymous because some writers may want to use the same characters for each story and write a series — or book — encompassing all seven sins. Finally, interpretation of the titular sin is up to the writer. Meaning, each ‘sin’ can take multiple forms.

The fifth set of stories cover the sin of Envy. This is my offering. Some might be surprised I’m offering anything at all since I’d hinted I might abstain . . . well, once again I had an idea and had fun exploring it, so here we are.

Disclaimer: The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories will likely span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the PG-rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Some readers might find a few of the stories disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, and if so, stop reading and move on.

Two Tales of Envy

Copyright 2021 — E. J. D’Alise
(2,160 words – approx. reading time: about 8 minutes based on 265 WPM)

Bigger Is Better?

“While it can be done, any type of surgical intervention has risks. Are you sure about this?”

Peter shifted in the chair and looked away from the doctor. It had taken all his courage to voice his desire and being asked to explain and defend his request amped the self-consciousness he felt.

This is what he wanted, and he was tired of trying to hide it. Squaring his shoulders, he shifted to the front edge of the chair, looked at Dr. Johnson in the eyes and asked what he’d asked himself innumerable times.

“Does this look normal to you?”

The doctor looked down from Peter’s eyes and contemplated the subject of the discussion.

“Mr. Winkle …”

“Please, call me Peter. I don’t like my last name.”

Before continuing, Dr. Johnson mentally added to the psychological assessment of his patient.

“Peter, the concept of ‘normal’ has been distorted by unrealistic depictions in print and other media. One could cite a median size for a given population, but we can’t say that’s any more normal than variations from said size,” Dr. Johnson said in his most professional voice. “That assessment is further complicated by societal influences, but,” he continued as he held up his hand to stop Peter from interrupting, “to answer your question, while I grant you seem to fall below the median, we’re nowhere near falling outside a normal distribution of sizes.”

“Please, Doctor … I … I see what others have, and I can’t help comparing mine to others. I’ve never seen any as small as mine, at least not on anyone women found attractive.”

Peter animatedly pointed at himself. “This is affecting my life! I’ve … I’ve not had a date in many months, and even when I manage one, I’ve not had a second date for well over a year.”

Peter looked away, suddenly unable to meet the doctor’s eyes, afraid he’d see the pity in them.

“I’m pretty sure that’s why my wife left me. She insisted otherwise, but I knew … I knew.”

Dr. Johnson thought he could probably come up with multiple other reasons more pertinent to Peter’s perceived personal predicament, but he kept them to himself. Instead, he decided on a medical line of reasoning.

“Look, Peter, I can sympathize but we’re talking about altering something that is, ah, front and center, as it were. While surgery is an option, there’s no guarantee the result would be to your liking. There’s a chance aesthetics won’t improve and you risk losing functionality.”

Peter slumped back in his chair. That was the same thing his previous doctor had said.

They sat in silence for a few seconds before Dr. Johnson decided on a different tack.

“Look, let me call in my nurse. I know it sounds strange, and you might even find it embarrassing, but this is a serious step, and since your primary reason for wanting the enlargement relates to what women think, let’s get a woman’s perspective.”

Before Peter could object, the doctor was at the door.

“Nurse Tail, do you have a moment for a consult?”

A few moments later, as Peter tried to shrink in his chair, nurse Tail walked in. Peter had seen her when he checked in. Young, athletic, way out of his league . . . and she would now pass judgment on his source of private anxiety.

“Nurse Tail, I’d like to get your perspective on … Peter, could you please stand? Thank you … your perspective on size. How important is it? What do you think?” Dr. Johnson said as he pointed at Peter.

The nurse smiled a friendly smile before making a show of examining Peter. As she did so, she kept a running discourse.

“Of course, I can’t speak for all women, but size isn’t the most important factor in finding a man attractive. Other attributes and abilities some into play; things like confidence, intelligence, humor … Could you please show me a profile? … Thank you. Anyway, men who think size is the primary metric used by women have a lot to learn about women.”

Nurse Tail stopped speaking and cocked her head to one side, her index finger resting below her lip.

Finally, after a few seconds, she straightened and smiled.

“Nothing wrong with the size, I’d say. Pert, jaunty even. I’d say not at all unattractive, but if I may make a comment? —”

“Please,” Peter encouraged her, relieved and standing straighter and already more confident.

“Well,” nurse Tail said, “it’s the hair. It overpowers and draws the eyes away from it. You might be proud of it, but if you shaved the hair, it would accentuate it and make it the center of attention.”

Dr. Johnson concurred with the suggestion. “A lot of men prefer the clean look as bolder, and it would have the advantage of removing distractions. Without the hair, it will naturally look bigger.”

Seeing the doubt in Peter’s eyes, Dr. Johnston continued.

“Look, if we go ahead with the surgery, you’ll have to shave anyway, so why not do that now and see what you think? We have a prep room next door and you can do it right now if you’d like. Nurse Tail can help.”

“I … I don’t want to impose,” Peter stammered.

“Nonsense!” nurse Tail replied, taking Peter by the arm and leading him next door.

Ten minutes later, all three were back in the examination room.

“Well? What do you think?”

Peter looked at himself in the mirror, turning one way and the other, looking at all the angles. He had to admit that it did look better … and larger! Finally, he extended his hand and shook hands with both the doctor and nurse Tail.

“Thank you both. I didn’t realize my beard overpowered my nose so. I’ve worn a beard for well over twenty years now, and shaving it not only makes me look younger, but my nose looks better suited to my face.”

Peter looked sideways at the wall mirror and smiled. Turning back to the doctor, he continued.

“I guess I won’t be getting a nose job after all. I’m sorry that I wasted your time.”

“Nonsense!” Dr. Johnson replied. “We’re more than glad to help. That’s our mission here, to make people feel good about themselves. Sometimes that involves surgery, and sometimes they just need a little guidance.”

The End of Tale No. 1

Wishful Thinking

“{looking at the camera} Joining us for commentary on Sharia law, Most Reverend Bob Volker of the Greater Metropolitan Area. Rev. Volker is an auxiliary bishop specializing in Interfaith Studies. {turning toward guest} Welcome, Rev. Volker, and thank you for joining us.”

“Glad to be here, Jim.”

“Rev. Volker, we’re hearing a lot of reports about the inequities of Sharia Law and I wonder if we can take a helicopter view and touch on the main points of contention between Sharia Law and the typical Western laws and judicial systems.”

“Gladly, Jim. I want to begin by saying that there’s a cultural context that often escapes people outside said culture. Many Muslims, when given the choice, prefer Sharia law over Western laws and Western concepts of just punishment.”

“But, Rev. Volker, can’t it be argued that subjectivity in many of these cases — even against the backdrop of cultural norms — is grossly misapplied? For instance, take Female Genital Mutilation. Even within the context of cultural norm, it’s difficult for me to consider it anything but barbaric. Add the fact it’s usually performed on girls between the age of four and eleven, and I could add ‘monstrous’ to the description.”

“Again, Jim, it’s important to realize practitioners see FGM as requirements of the religion and have done so for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Let me also add that Western society routinely perform circumcision on males. That too could be seen as mutilation, except that as an accepted medical practice, we consider it normal.”

“Point taken, Reverend, but you’re comparing babies to much older females. While the physical pain is certainly an issue with circumcision, a practice with little to no medical basis, there’s no capacity for awareness in babies, whereas girls are already well into being aware at four years of age, and certainly when older. What happens if they object?”

“Well, Jim, they can’t object. Even if they do, they’re not considered as having the same intellectual capacity as men, and that’s besides not having other basic rights. In many ways, they’re considered property, something that, again, is not too far removed from our own not-so-distant past. For instance, they could be married off as young as nine years of age.”

“That’s horrible!”

“Again, we’re judging from an ‘evolved’ Western perspective, but remember that our own history — even in the late 1800s — girls could marry at twelve years of age. In one state, as low as seven, and that was well into the 1900s.”

“Reverend, you’re not suggesting past practices from less enlightened times offer an excuse for current conduct, are you?”

“No, but I find the use of the word ‘enlightened’ strange; strange because that is based solely on self-assessment. We say we’re ‘enlightened’, but we don’t have a metric we can employ that is outside of our own experience. We call ourselves enlightened, but how do we know? At any one point, we decide on a definition of ‘enlightenment’ and then agree that we meet it, but almost immediately, we begin expanding the definition. How do we know we have the right definition when it changes from day to day?”

“Reverend, I believe you’re heading toward the argument that there can be no objective morality save for that ordained by a higher power.”

“I am. The Bible offers many lessons about living in an orderly society. Lesson aimed both at a living a better life and at celebrating the glory of God.”

“But, Reverend, much like the Quran, the Bible is also used to justify inflicting suffering, sometimes for arbitrary reasons, on people not adhering to tenets that were decreed centuries before we understood much about ourselves and the world.”

“Jim, I believe there is no expiration on the wisdom passed down from God.”

“Rev. Volker, you sound as if you’re making excuses for practices that most modern individuals find cruel and bordering on barbaric. I’m talking about the death penalty for homosexuality, blasphemy, apostasy, as well as gross abrogation of girls and women’s rights.”

“Jim, all I’m saying is that within the culture, those rules work for them, and both males and females agree to live under those rules.”

“Pardon me saying, Reverend, but women hardly seem to have a choice. As you mentioned, they’ve practically no rights, can be married against their will, can be divorced just by being told so, can be beaten by their husbands, can be killed for dishonoring the family — for example, for being raped. As far as rights, women have few rights. Not to mention, Draconian punishments for many offenses. Basically, there is no canon of laws not subservient to Sharia.”

“Granted, Jim, but the result is order in the society. I think in many respects, we can trace the breakdown of Western society, the acrimony, the division of the country, we can trace it to the abandonment of religion as a guide to social and political doings. Without religion and the structure it provides —admittedly, occasionally strict — we’re seeing a degradation of our morals and our values.”

“Reverend Volker, it sounds as if you would welcome the equivalent of Sharia law — but based on the teachings of the Bible — for governing the land and affairs of men, for women to be subservient to men, and for religion to dictate the limits of both private and public human interactions.”

“I confess not insignificant envy of the sweeping control Islam has on the lives of its adherents. I believe if we could steer our country toward a theocracy, toward making the word of God the law of the land, I think we would then all be better off.”

“You mean all except non-Christians, like Jews, Muslims, Mormons, atheists, and others. And, of course, women.”

“Of course, Jim, but I believe in time they would see the benefit of falling in line with the teachings of the Bible.”

“Or be killed?”

“Jim, it needn’t ever come to that.”

“I’m not so sure, Rev. Volker, since not that long ago that is exactly what the Church was doing to people not conforming to its will. But I’m told we’re out of time, perhaps in more ways than one. Thank you, Reverend Volker for that illuminating and scary interview. {turning to face the camera} Join us after the break when we discuss ‘keep your mitts of my ethics and morals’ with our guest, the famous — or should I say infamous — atheist Peter Winkle. {turning toward guest} Peter, I hardly recognize you without your trademark beard. The ladies are going to miss it, I’m sure.”

The End

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Here are the links to the other two stories:

Envy the Dead <<link
Writer: Perry Broxson
Word count: 10,130  words – approx. reading time: about 38 minutes based on 265 WPM

Twinvy <<link
Writer: R. G. Broxson
Word count: 4,335 words – approx. reading time: about 16 minutes based on 265 WPM

If you’ve read all the stories and care to cast a vote, here’s the link to the Poll:

The SDS Challenge — Envy Voting <<link

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