How to ruin a summer vac.., p.15
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       How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, p.15

         Part #1 of How to Ruin series by Simone Elkeles
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Page 15


  I catch sight of Snotty and she gives me this half-smile. Yeah, yeah. I know. She realizes now she has the upper hand because she kind of duped me into going on this trip. Kind of. It was really my decision all along to come.

  Ron comes up to me. "I dont want you going," he says. "Youre too young and are going through a lot right now. "

  Realizing everyone is already in the car and just watching us have it out, I freeze. "Are you telling me I cant go?"

  "Im not saying that. . . exactly. "

  "I want to go. "

  Avi, who was in the drivers seat, gets out of the car and walks up to Ron. He takes Ron to the side of the house, away from my earshot. I wonder what hes saying. I wonder what theyre both saying.

  I watch as Ron and Avi shake hands after a few minutes. Then Avi walks up to me. I can tell hes not in a good mood.

  "What?" I say.

  "Avi assures me hell look out for you," Ron says, then goes back into the house because Doda Yucky is calling him.

  "I can take care of myself," I assure Avi when Ron is out of sight.

  "Get in the car," Avi orders.

  "I dont appreciate being ordered around by you. "

  "And I dont appreciate a spoiled American bitch delaying my vacation," he says low enough so only I can hear.

  If my looks could kill, Id be staring at a dead guy right about now. Spoiled American bitch my ass. I am not spoiled. I know this because I have two parents who want to destroy my life. I mean it. One took me on this trip so he could prove to me hes a great dad. But I bet after the trip hell go back to his comfy bachelor life. My other parent wants to be rid of me for the summer so she can get engaged to a dork.

  If I was spoiled, Id be surrounded by people who love me. Like Jessica. Her parents spoil her rotten. And I mean rotten with a capital R. She not only has two brothers and a sister, she has two parents who live together. They like each other, so much so they even hold hands while watching TV. Ive even seen them kiss. And this is after having four kids. And theyre old, like in their forties or something.

  To top it off, Jessicas mom makes these little fluffy low-carb cookies that just melt in your mouth. And you know why she makes em? Ill tell you why. For the sole reason she knows Jess likes them. Not only do I not get fluffy melt-in-your-mouth low-carb cookies, Mom wont even buy anything low-carb at the store. Why? Because my Mom doesnt believe in low-carb diets.

  How dare Avi call me spoiled.

  Avi walks back around the front of the car and I think he may just drive off without waiting for me. Its like a test.

  I hate tests.

  Whats worse, I feel like this whole trip has been full of tests.

  I reach into my pocket and feel the Jewish star Sofia gave me. She told me the ancient Jewish warrior, Judah Maccabbee, put a six-point star on his war shield. The six points dig into my palm. Im keeping it in my pocket wherever I go . . . like my very own shield.

  When I hear the truck start up again, it doesnt take me long to throw my backpack into the flatbed and jump in.

  Within minutes were on a dirt road, the dust behind us proof of our journey. I have to hold on to the sides of the truck, the rocks in the road make the ride feel like a bumpy roller coaster.

  And my boobs are bouncing around like crazy. As if theyre not even attached to my body. I thought it was bad enough I had a backpack to be responsible for not flipping out of the truck. Now I have to make sure my boobs stay inside the truck, too.

  At least, thats what it feels like. Ones bouncing this way, one that way. Every time I cross my arms in front of my chest to keep them in one place, I lose my balance and bump into Doo-Doo (whos on one side of me) or Ofra, (whos on the other).

  Cant Avi drive a little slower? It feels like this rocky dirt road has never been traveled before.

  The sun is setting over the mountains. Its really pretty to see the reds, oranges, and yellows fade behind the mountains, outlining the landscape before finally disappearing for the night. Its getting darker as we drive, the light fading with each minute that passes. Before long, its pitch black.

  An hour later we finally stop. Theres nothing around here, although I can see blinking lights from towns in the distance like twinkling stars in the night.

  I forgot since I started this wild journey that Im in Israel. Otherwise known as the war zone.

  Nobody seems to mind as they pile out of the back of the truck. I scan the area as much as I can, which isnt much. Im still in the truck when Avi comes around to the back of it.

  Our eyes meet. "Are you coming out?" he asks.

  I still have a bad feeling, as if theres something Im not getting. And Im still not over the fact that he called me a spoiled American bitch.

  When I dont answer, he shrugs and starts to walk off. I cant see where hes going because its so dark. But I know hes walking because I can hear the gravel crunch beneath his feet.

  "Wait!" I say.

  I hear the gravel stop. Then I hear him coming closer to the truck. Hes staring at me, I can sense it.

  "I, uh, need help getting out of the truck," I say lamely.

  I feel his hand shoot out and reach for mine. I grab it and he leads me gently to the edge of the truck. Before I know it, hes released my grip and I feel both of his hands surround my waist as he lifts me from the truck and sets me safely on the ground.

  Were both standing there, face to face as he keeps his hands on my waist and doesnt release me. His grasp almost feels like a caress and I dont want him to let me go. I feel safe when hes touching me, even though in the back of my head I can still hear him calling me a spoiled American bitch.

  Just thinking of it makes me stiffen and I take a step back.

  "Do you mind keeping your hands to yourself?" I find myself saying.

  He drops his hands from my body and says, "Be careful for snakes. "


  As if I wasnt stiff enough at that moment. He walks away from me and I hear him give a short laugh. Snakes? Is he kidding?

  "Dont worry," Doo-Doo says as he hands me a flashlight. "Hes just trying to scare you. "

  "Well hes doing a good job of it," I mumble under my breath.

  I watch as the girls sit down, close to where the guys are trying to start a fire. And Im standing here by the Jeep.

  I should have brought Mutt, hed protect me from snakes and rude boys. Getting attached to the pup wasnt my idea, he just kind of got under my skin. Even though he is an annoying, Ferragamo-stealing beast.


  I hate when others know more about me than I do.

  "Are you okay, Amy?" Ofra says. Shes sitting with everybody next to the fire pit.

  "Just super," I say.

  I keep my backpack in the back of the Jeep and join the girls. Theyre talking in Hebrew. Im used to that by now even though it still annoys me.

  I have to sit there and smile when they smile, and like a dork I even let out a laugh when they laugh. Im like a dumb mimic, because I dont even know what theyre talking about!

  For all I know theyre saying, "Amys got a booger sticking out of her nose. " Then I go ahead and laugh right along with them, which makes it funnier to them but makes me and my hanging booger look like one big loser. When I think of this, every time they laugh I pretend to scratch my nose and feel for anything foreign hanging from my nostrils.

  "So, tell me about American boys," Ofra says, and I could just kiss her for starting a conversation with me. "Are they as cute as I see on television? I like the boys on The Young and the Restless.

  Believe it or not, I watch The Young and the Restless. Maybe I actually have something in common with an Israeli girl after all.

  I give them all the scoop on the soaps. I cant believe theyre so behind on the episodes here.

  "You know so much," Ofra says.

  Im feeling a bit better now, thanks to Ofra. Even Snotty seems to be listening to me without my famous sneer on h
er face.

  After about an hour of laughing and talking and drinking and eating, Ofra and I go off to find a place to pee. But since there are no toilets in the middle of nowhere, we have to squat. Luckily Ofra brought some toilet paper, or else I dont know what Id do.

  We walk away from the group to find a good place for squatting in private. We both have our flashlights on. Im so afraid of stepping on a snake or other animal I keep the light moving from one side of me to the other.

  Now that were a little ways from the group, should I turn my flashlight off so Ofra doesnt have to see the show of me squatting?

  Who cares? I hold the flashlight between my neck and my chin so I can see what Im doing.

  I realize pretty quickly Im not a good squatter. Especially while trying to hold a flashlight under my chin. In fact, Im horrible at it. Of course with a toilet I have no problems. Girls biologically werent made to squat.

  As I bend my knees as far as I can without falling, I try to relax. But I can feel the pee dripping right down my leg. So I quickly get into a crab position, with both my hands and feet on the ground. At least this way gravity can aid me in my endeavor.

  Dare I look over at Ofra? Can she see me? I should turn off my flashlight, but thats impossible in the position Im in. And Im feeling a bit lightheaded. I know what youre thinking. That Im probably going to fall right into the pee because Im in a crab position and am feeling kind of off-balance.

  But to my surprise, Im able to keep my crab-pee position just fine. And when Im done I wipe the best I can and put my shorts back on. Im utterly proud of myself for this accomplishment. I can probably try out for that show Survivor now that Ive peed without a proper toilet.

  "Why does Osnot hate me?" I ask Ofra as we walk back to the campsite. I thought I didnt want to know, but I guess when it comes right down to it, I do.

  She stops and looks at me thoughtfully. "Its a pride thing. "

  "Could you be a little more specific?"

  "Well, Avi and Osnot have a history . . . "

  "I knew it!" I say loudly.

  "No, not like that. Well, its like, uh . . . "

  Im standing patiently waiting for her to finish. Okay, not so patiently. But I dont think she realizes it.

  Ofra starts biting a fingernail. "Shed kill me if I told you," she says.

  "Im going to kill you if you dont tell me. "

  "Theyve always been more than great friends. Theyve been like brother and sister. Avi used to date a lot of girls, but he hasnt in over a year. "

  "And . . . "

  "Avis going through a rough time right now. Hes kind of been a jerk to everyone. Osnot thought if she and Avi were a couple, hed get over whatever is eating him on the inside. He rejected her and I guess shes still upset about it. "

  "She hated me before she even met me. "

  "Well, she wasnt planning on sharing her room for the summer with an American either. "

  "Whats wrong with being American? I thought the U. S. and Israel were allies. "

  "We are," she says as we start heading back to the camp-fire. "I guess we get a little pissed off that American kids dont have to join the army while we have to go as soon as we turn eighteen. Girls for two years, boys for three. Dont get me wrong, I want to go. But you American Jews sit in your nice houses on your nice pieces of land and party at your universities while we Jews in Israel put our lives on the line to prevent the destruction of our people and our tiny little piece of land. "

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