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October 10, 2022

Bombs Over Suburbia

It's summer. And not the soft sun kissed summer you're thinking about. It's the I-don't-know-where-this-sweat-is-coming-from-oh-my-god-I-didn't-know-I-could-sweat-from-there-do-other-people-sweat-there-I-should-Google-this kind of summer. Disturbing, emotionally draining. 

And if there's one thing I've come to learn living in Israel, it's that when there's heat, there's war. It's like the toxic relationship you had in your twenties.

 

See, the devil lounges in the Middle East, and when the heat hits, you get his blivet up your ass and that makes for spicy encounters.

Missiles fly back and forth, Hamas has shot thousands of them into Israel, mostly landing in southern cities. But a couple managed to make it to Tel Aviv. And that's spicy.

I throw my own bombs when I feel the heat melting my face, shorts gluing onto the back of my legs causing a rash in the inner thigh that makes you walk like you've been riding a horse. And see, there's not much I can do about the rash. I put a little cream on, the intensity goes away, but it comes back with the heat. And the heat always comes back.

Nate, lying on the couch shirtless, in mid-chew of a cracker, clears his throat cautiously as he puts down his phone. "Listen baby, you need to know that's gonna get a bit tense. So, when I'm not here, listen for the alarm. When you hear it, you have 30 seconds to get to the bomb shelter."

30 seconds.

Bomb shelter. 

Fuck, this seems like a lot to remember. No. Natasha, it's just two things. You just need to remember these two things.

Days pass, and nothing happens. The unknown is killing me. I haven't been sleeping that well; I'm waiting for the alarm. What the alarm sounds likes, I have no idea. But it's coming. Maybe.

 

But I'm prepared. I've just spent the last couple of days timing how long it takes to get to the bomb shelter (5 seconds running, 10 seconds speed walking, 20 seconds strolling, 35 seconds crawling with a potential injury) and eating popsicles in the backyard while watching missiles in the far distance get intercepted by the iron dome. But no alarm. A small part of me has FOMO.

And then it finally hit me. Even Hamas thinks this town is shitty enough to ignore. How depressing.

As the days pass, I get used to the conflict, and it just becomes a part of my day. I need to grab toilet paper at the grocery store and some almond milk, oh, and remember to run if I hear the alarm.

Today, I'm making myself a salad for lunch. I'm all about clean eating right now. And plus, I need something fresh to beat this heat. Not today, devil! The luxury of working from home is that I can wear the most disgusting clothing and no one will ever know. So, with that privilege in hand, today I choose to wear my worn-out, nipple-exposing sundress. Classic and sassy. 

 

I grab the lettuce out of the fridge, washing each leaf by hand, losing myself in thought. 

I hear a sound. A loud wailing encircles me. It's the alarm.

Hamas does care about this town! I am desirable! Maybe this town isn't so bad after all.

I throw my lettuce leaf into the sink. "Thirty seconds, bomb shelter," I repeat out loud as I hectically prance around the house, grabbing my phone and passport. "Thirty seconds, bomb shelter." 27.  

 

Quickly catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I see my dress. 25. Fuck! Should I change? Maybe I should grab a sweater or something...20. No, you don't have time. Thirty seconds, bomb shelter. 17. Just cover your nips and run. 15.

With my phone and passport acting as trusty nipple protectors, I run to the bomb shelter while softly screaming. 10. The faces of Nate's family greet me. I smile uncomfortably, pressing my phone and passport harder against my breasts as I squish myself into a space no larger than my shower. 

"Hi, everyone," I say softly. My hands are dripping in sweat, feeling the hot breaths of everyone circulate the shelter. 

Boom.

Boom. The house shakes. Boom.

Boom. Dust falls from the ceiling. Boom. Boom. Boom.

 

We stay in the shelter a little longer, waiting for things to clear. 

And it was over. The house looks exactly as I last saw it. 

I walk back into my place, and head back to the sink, grabbing the unwashed lettuce leaf and rinsing it under the water. I chop the lettuce, throw it in a bowl and drizzle olive oil on it with a squeeze of fresh lemon. 

Nate comes home, I'm cooking dinner. He rushes over, wrapping me in his arms. "I'm sorry I wasn't here with you."

"It's okay, I made it to the shelter."

He kisses me on the cheek warmly, whispering into my ear, "maybe just next time make sure your nipples aren't showing."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*story based on the 2021 Israel-Palestinian conflict

 

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