top of page
The Quarter-Life Crisis

April 24, 2024

The Last Flight Out

No one expects the Spanish inquisition late Saturday afternoon.

 

"So, you're back," my therapist says with a faint smile. "How do you feel?"

I grab a tissue from the Kleenex box on the coffee table dividing us. My fingers start folding the issue in half, and then again and again. Once it becomes too thick to folder, I unfold it, ripping it into tiny pieces. 

"Uh, I'm...you know... I don't know. I'm okay."

 

That's the truth. I don't know how I am. I didn't think about it until now.

"A lot has happened," she replies.

 

I actually don't know if my therapist lives in this apartment. I've been here every week for the past four years and I still can't figure it out. She says she does, but the place is empty. The only sign of life are the 13 toothbrushes sitting in a cup on her bathroom sink. 

"There was October 7th," she starts. My right eye starts twitching. "Then you went to your family, your partner was sent to the army." Taking a mindful breath, "you come back and your uncle dies the same day, then Nate's father has a heart attack. A new job, and you're getting married soon."

 

Her voice softly floats through the room. "So much change. How do you feel?"

I start picking at the small scab on one of my knuckles. I can't remember how I got it.

                                                                             

Is that the siren? I thought to myself, opening one eye curiously.

90 seconds.

I quickly grabbed my phone, checking the time. 6:00 am. October 7th, 2023.

What the fuck...that's weird...

 

80 seconds.

I sprung up from bed and turned to Nate, shaking him awake. "Baby, you have to get up, there's a siren."

Groggy-eyed, Nate moaned disgruntled, turning onto his back to absorb the sound. His eyes widened. He immediately jumped out out bed grabbing his gym shorts off the ground, slipping them on. "Put your shoes on, and get Bob on the leash."

60 seconds.

I ran to the living room, jumping over the piles of moving boxes in search for Bob's leash. 

We were suppose to move out the next day into our first real apartment, so the house was beyond chaos. Everything was taped up in boxes that I forgot to label.

How are we supposed to know which boxes go where? Nate asked me days before. 

Does it even matter? We'll be out in a couple days, I replied. 

This move was huge. Until this day, we lived in a small unit attached to my in-laws' house. This wasn't just a move, it was our first real commitment. The place we found was a house we couldn't really afford, but man, did it have a view.

40 seconds.

I found the leash wedged in between two boxes labeled "house stuff." 

"Bob, come." 

 

An elderly English bulldog, Bob wasn't particularly known for his athleticism. But the sound of the alarm turned him into a German Shepard as he appeared in front of me, awaiting the safety instructions. I didn't have any.

Once leashed, Bob led us to the bomb shelter in the basement of Nate's parent's house.

15 seconds.

Crammed into the bomb shelter — the size of a suburban food pantry from the 2000s — was Nate's 86-year-old grandma, his parents, four siblings, their partners, six children, us, and Bob. We were wedged in between shelves of clothing — a once designated place of safety had become a children's closet.

All confused and in a semi-daze, we huddled together, waiting.

Boom.

The house vibrated.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

...

Boom.

Silence.

Nate peeked his head around the corner towards the front door, subconsciously thinking it would help him hear better. His brother pulled out his phone to check the news.

Voices overlapped one another, each asking the same question.

What happened?

It doesn't say.

Ah, probably Hamas. No?

This past summer was weird when it came to terrorism. Hamas always attacked in the summer. It was their thing. I don't know why summer, but I assumed, like Israelis, they hated the cold. 

But this summer was silent. Not a missile. Not one alarm. Nothing.

A few weeks ago, I asked Nate about it. It was a Shabbat morning (just like a Sunday) and my neighbors' flock of caged budgies were screeching — I mean chirping. My arms rested on the top of our fence as I stared at the sky, holding a cup of "anti-stress" tea in one hand. 

That fucking tea never worked.

Nate was sitting on a plastic wicker chair under the avocado tree, scrolling through his phone, sipping on a Nescafé. 

"Hamas has been pretty quiet, no?" I asked.

"What? No." He replied, his eyes glued to the phone. "There's shit all the time with them."

"Yeah, I know, but like, it's pretty quiet. Something always happens in August. I dunno...it's just strange."

"Well, they did just get like 70,000 more work permits. So, you know," he looked at me, "maybe we're finally heading towards peace.

I scrunched my nose in disagreement.

Out of the bomb shelter and back home, Nate grabbed his phone, reading out whatever headlines he saw in attempt to piece together what was going on. I went to Twitter and saw the footage. 

Oh my god...they're slaughtering people. What the fuck are we going to do? Are they going to make it here? My stomach churned with anxiety, hardening with each video I watched.

"You need to go to your parents," he said, hunched over on the couch. "I'm going to be drafted."

"What? How do you know?"

Nate placed his phone down on the coffee table, "because this is different."  He got up from the couch, going to the first moving box he saw, ripping it open with his hands. "Where's my army stuff?"

"Uh, I don---"

"Can you help me find it." He chucked the box to the side, ripping open another one, "I need to prepare my bag."

He shoved the second box onto the floor and quickly moved from the living room into the bedroom, opening the closet and pulling out a small suitcase. "Call the embassy and get a flight to your parents."

Tears filled my eyes, "can you just stop for a moment? What's going on?"

A single heavy breath was heard from the bedroom. I waited for him to come out. He walked over to me with eyes filled of sorrow. "I'm sorry," his arms pulled me into him. "I'm sorry. I want you to be here with me, but I know they're going to call me. They will. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in three days, but the call is coming."

"Let's just wait a couple days and see how things go."

The next few days we sat on the couch in silence, waiting. Waiting for an alarm, waiting for a response. We just waited. My stomach became so hard I couldn't eat, sipping only on water when my lips became flaky.

"Did the embassy reply yet?"

"No, not yet," I replied, my face swollen from crying.

A part of me couldn't wait for the embassy to call me back. A part of me wanted nothing more then to flee — get the fuck out of there and run away as far as I could. But there was the other side, the part of me that wanted to stay and be beside him. The part that wanted to stand for the life we built together, the love we built, the family we built.

A couple days later, my phone rang. "We have a seat for you on the next flight out."

"Oh." My face became hot, "where is it going?"

"We don't know, you'll find out once you're checked in. It's a NATO flight, so you'll be going somewhere in Europe." 

I remained silent.

"You have thirty minutes to get to the airport. If you do not take this flight, we cannot guarantee you another one."

Nate stood beside me, a heaviness on his face I'd never seen before, "take it." 

I hung up the phone and quickly grabbed a suitcase, filling it up with my toothbrush, one dress, a couple pairs of underwear, one t-shirt, and a pair of Converse sneakers.

"I don't want to go," I said in between dry heaves. 

"I don't want you to go, you know I don't. But I don't want you to be here alone. I can't have you here. I won't be able to focus if you're here without me." His smile reached below his eyes. "It'll be okay, in a couple of weeks, you'll be back and everything will be okay."

I hoped he was right. I zipped up the suitcase and sat next to Nate on the couch. Holding his hand in mine. 

"You know it's going into winter at your parents," Nate reminded me.

"I don't know where the winter clothes are, everything's in boxes," I replied.

"We should have labeled the boxes."

"Yeah, we should have."

 

 

 

 

*story based on the October 7th, 2024 Massacre 

 

You Might Also Like

bottom of page