|Posted by [email protected] on August 23, 2016 at 6:50 PM|
As the story begins my main character Bree is kicking back on a beautiful ocean beach. One minute she is happily sun bathing and the next she is running for her life as helicopter gunships strafe the sand…
“…All day long I slipped down the water slide. Slathered in sunscreen, eyes squinting against the tropical light, I was carried by jets of recirculating sea water to the hot sand below. Dazed and content, I flew down the slide in a line of other children. One after another, we fell into the sand then scrambled barefoot to the stairs going up, up and up again, at least three stories of red-painted aluminum steps to the platform. Waiting my turn near the top, I saw little boats sailing the salty waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and sunlight glancing like stars off the waves. Then I looked down at our rented umbrella, one of dozens in view. I could see my baby sister Aylah sleeping in her carrier and my Mom lying on her side, one hand on the baby’s arm, one eye on her beach read and one eye on me. She waved her book at me. I waved back, then looked beyond her to the sea.
This part of the Mediterranean is often “black flag” − unsafe for swimmers. Today is a blue day, a safe day, but very few people were swimming past the marker buoys. Usually one of them would be my dad. Dad says the water is too rough for most of the Middle Easterners. He says it is because they are desert people. Almost all the younger kids are in bathing suits and many of their parents are, too. Here and there are groups of adults where the women wear dresses to their ankles. There are also some men in long sleeved shirts and long black pants. Three of them are at the shore. One of them is drinking cola. Another has a magazine under his arm. My parents thought me safer on the slide than in Herzikiah Beach’s forceful seas and undertow. And that was true until the loudspeakers boomed, helicopters flew in formation overhead and the slide gate slammed shut behind me. The teenage guard flopped to the platform. “Get down,” he shouted in Hebrew. He waved his arm down and I dropped to the floor. The two of us lay eye to eye as helicopters pounded overhead so close I could see the guns sticking out the open doors and a pilot waved to me as he flew by.
Loudspeakers boomed from lamp-posts, scratchy and tinny with excited voices. Without raising my head I risked a sideways look. The strip of beach I could see below me was emptying. Police materialized out of nowhere. Anxious parents stuffed their feet into sandals, threw on shirts and cover-ups. The officers grabbed parents and kids, pushing them toward the parking lots. Parents shrieked for their children and everyone was running − kids with sand pails, babies caught up in their parents’ arms, older kids in packs.
In seconds, the crowd had seized blankets, picnic baskets, beach chairs and small children and raced for their cars. Fascinated and frightened at the same time, I followed the helicopters thundering back and forth overhead, until the boy opposite squirmed closer and shouted again, “It’s no problem!” I nodded because it was one of the few phrases of Hebrew that I knew.
Taking in my thick blond hair, and the long white T shirt I wore over my bathing suit, the guard grinned and repeated it in English. “It’s no problem. They’re chasing terrorists!”…
Want to read more? Come see us Sunday, September 25, 2016 at Word on the Street http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/ There will be books and goodies available.