Daily Postings
Literature : Word Choice

Yossi Tavili Stands in the Field

by Bethany Ball


Jac Lahav. Jeffrey Sachs, 2008, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

Now it is just a question of what to do with Yossi Tavili. He works in the fields, with his dogs and guns, frightening the birds that eat the crops. At night, he hunts the wild boar in the fields with his brothers and his dogs. But now he has gone mad.

Before harvesting season begins, he drives his truck into the middle of the wheat. In the center of that golden sea, he arranges stones, huge twenty-kilo stones that he pulls from the back of his truck. He arranges them and rearranges them until the sun comes up. He spreads birdseed all around. The birds come from the Golan to the north and the Kinneret to the south. They fly over Americans and Africans in white robes baptizing themselves in the Jordan. They come from Syria and Lebanon, but not the West Bank or Gaza, where there are no birds. Yossi Tavili stands in the middle of the field, very still, and counts and names them as they come. A helicopter flies overhead and bathes them in a shower of pesticide. Someone calls the police. He can see them coming over the highway. He hops into the cab of the jeep with his dogs and drives off. For a few days no one knows where he’s gone. Later that week, a group of kibbutzim see him building stone cairns off the side of the highway, on the way to the Roman baths. “Come on, Yossi! Come with us,” they shout from their jeeps. “Leave the stones to the ground and take a rest.”

“I have had enough leisure.” He climbs into the back of the jeep and salutes them. “Now I must work.”

Yossi Tavili’s father-in-law Yakov runs his hands through his white hair and nods. He strokes his whiskers. The parliament of old men, the sabras, sit around a barbecue pit with a bottle of whiskey and discuss Yossi Tavili. They pass the bottle around and pour drabs into dusty tea glasses. Yakov sets his glass on the ground, wedging it into the dirt. He crosses his arms up high across his narrow chest and rests his forearms on the high wall of his abdomen. “Yes,” he says. “This is true. He’s had enough leisure time. I should know. I bought his cars, financed renovations on houses I paid for and paid all medical costs for Yossi Tavili’s new grandson. When my children want money, they come to me. When their children want money, they come to me.” The men nod. They defer to him, to Yakov Grossman, the richest man in the Upper Galilee. “I paid for their bar mitzvahs, their educations and their houses. I’ve paid for six weddings, five divorces, one funeral and countless birthdays. Now I must pay for Yossi Tavili’s madness.”

The men nod and grunt and drink to Yakov Grossman.

*

Yossi Tavili hears about the parliament from his younger brother, Itai, who heard it from Manacham, who is the son of Yakov’s brother Asaf. Yossi Tavili squats down on to the ground and spits. He writes symbols in the dirt with his finger. He stands up again and shouts, “That man! For thirty years I’ve been that man’s slave. Why doesn’t he die already?”

“And leave everything to you, Yossi,” says Itai who is lo gomour, not finished, funny in the head. “That would be something.”

*

Yossi Tavili’s father-in-law Yakov and Yakov’s wife Aliza drive to Tel Aviv to meet their children. Aliza tells her husband, “We must keep this very quiet, for Keren’s sake and the children. We mustn’t tell anyone. Yossi will never find a job again. It will go into his public record! We must hire a private doctor. Send him to America perhaps. Nina tells me in America they have more mental hospitals than regular ones!”

Yakov listens to his wife with increasing irritation and presses his foot hard on the accelerator. He goes too fast, but he is over eighty years old and anyway, he is going to die. Better to do so in a blaze of concrete, steel, and light. “I’m done with Yossi Tavili and all the rest of them! I should have cut them off years ago. Offer a finger and they want the whole hand!”

Aliza says, “Yakov. You were the one who said, ‘Keep the seeds in your pocket and give it to the birds one by one.’”

“Yes! Keep them close so they don’t fly away.” Spit flies from his mouth. “But now, they can go fuck themselves!”

*

Sagit on an airplane flying back from Berlin, is unaware of Yossi Tavili and his troubles. If someone mentioned his name to her, she would hardly be able to summon a face. If she thought hard enough, she might remember a small fattish boy with elf-like ears and a ferret face. Then again, she might get him confused with someone else. Soft, slow Doran Dorsman, for instance. She might remember Yossi Tavili married the oldest sister of her first love: Aaron Grossman.

She doesn’t care who has gone crazy on the kibbutz. Her mother stopped telling her anything years ago.

She is on her way home, Sagit thinks with dread.

*

At dinner in a newly opened Tel Aviv restaurant with his son Nir and his daughter Shira, Yakov rails against Yossi Tavili. “I always knew he was trouble! What will I do now? What can be done? I can’t even grow old and die in peace!”

His son Nir says, “What do you mean what will you do? It’s not for you to do anything! Let them sort it out on their own.”

“It will all fall on me! He doesn’t work anymore and now I will have to support Keren and the children and the grandchildren and the baby too!”

Nir says, “Why? They are grown ups! Yossi Tavili is a fifty-year-old man!”

“Ach!” cries Yakov. He yanks on a bit of white hair. “You don’t know what I’ve done for that man.”

“What are you saying?” Nir shouts. “I know what you’ve done for him!” Shira puts her head in her hands. “I come to the kibbutz once every month and you only sit with Yossi Tavili. You completely ignored us for Yossi Tavili. You elevated him to a god. You could never see his faults. We saw them. Only you and Keren were blind to Yossi Tavili. He’s been crazy for years!”

Yakov grows cold. He sits with his arms crossed high over his chest and pulls on his moustache. Nir’s fourth wife murmurs to Nir words no one at the table can hear. “I cannot imagine,” Yakov says, “at your age, to be so jealous. Such a childish emotion is jealousy.”

They sit in silence.

Nir smiles at his father. “You are an irascible old son-of-a-bitch.”

Yakov nods and stares off at the beach and sea. He strokes his moustache. The coarse hairs soothe his fingers. Yes, it’s true, he thinks. Of all my four sons, it was Yossi I loved the best. The one who was not my son. The only one I could talk to. Now, it has all gone to shit.

In the morning, Yakov and Aliza have breakfast with Shira alone. She is the youngest. She is the crazy one, Yakov has said before, the result of his busted sperm. At the bistro together, Yakov and Shira hatch a plan that he will fly Shira to the Upper Kerenlee every week or so. Shira can persuade her sister Keren to throw Yossi out. Throw him out, cut him out of the bank accounts, and Yossi, at least, will not be Yakov’s problem anymore.

Aliza chortles to herself, watching Shira. The truth is, Yakov had sired for himself, as his last child, the perfect wife. They are made for one another, Shira and Yakov. Aliza sits silent. She says nothing. It wouldn’t make any difference anyhow. As the Grossman matriarch, almost no one talks to her anymore. Only Yossi Tavili ever thanked her for the Friday meals she makes. What a joke it is: The two least stable in her family, Yakov and Shira, deciding the fate of a man who should be institutionalized.

Aliza prays daily. She had once prayed for sanity and peace but now prays that Yossi Tavili will make a threat and be put in the hospital. He should go to the hospital in Sfat, high up on the mountain with the communities of the Hasidim. Up there, mad men and messiahs are their specialty.

Aliza prays that everyone will grow to be as wise as she is. She touches her hair and thinks of having it hennaed.

*

Yossi Tavili drives his jeep to Sfat to see a doctor. Keren sits in the jeep stiffly beside him. The hospital is all modern cement and crumbling. “It is my family that is crazy,” he says, very quietly, very controlled, to the doctor in front of them. The inscrutable doctor with the stone face. The doctor nods and scribbles his notes.

When they return to the kibbutz, Keren tells her mother what the shrink had said: “’He is enjoying himself. He is enjoying doing whatever he likes.’”

Later Aliza tells Shira on the telephone, “Yossi Tavili has always enjoyed doing whatever he likes! Who raised those four children? Who cooked every Friday dinner? Who did Keren come crying to when Yossi was out gallivanting with that Russian’s wife? Who did all that laundry all those years?”

“Yes,” Nir says, three days later, sitting in another newly opened Tel Aviv restaurant with his parents, Yakov and Aliza. “And who paid all the bills!”

Aliza says, “And yours too.” They quiet down, looking thoughtfully around the restaurant and out the window to the beach. Seagulls fight over a container of chips someone has left in the sand. Jaffa glows in the distance. The sea pounds the beach. Aliza pulls up her chest and sits up tall. Her hair is a beacon of the brightest red. “None of you children have ever supported yourselves. Not even for a day.”

Only Aaron, she thinks. Her favorite son. In America. Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, Sagit, is coming back to the kibbutz. Maybe Aaron will one day come back too.

*

The fields are shorn. They burn in the terrible summer sun. Yossi Tavili has spent a week piling stones along the median in the center of the road that leads to Roshpinna.

Yakov calls his son in America. He says, “Come back to the kibbutz. Go sit with Yossi Tavili. Talk to him.”

“Abba,” says Aaron, “Yossi never liked me. We don’t know each other that well. By the time Keren married him, I was already in the army.”

Aaron hangs up the phone. Yossi is of another type altogether, thinks Aaron, in his office on Wall Street. Yossi and his roughneck brothers, wilding around the fields all summer long, shooting wild boar and roasting them on spits. On Shavuos, the harvesting festival, when the children would go into the fields alone, Yossi Tavili and his friends would post boars’ heads on stakes. Aaron stumbled over one when he was ten and the image of it, the filmed-over eyes, the terrible mouth hanging open, still greets him in the night. Those menacing terrible fields of Shavuos! Those Tavilis! Moroccan, boulboulim from the caves outside of Fez. They are the joke of the kibbutzniks. In the army, Aaron was a paratrooper and Yossi Tavili, a what? A thug in Gaza!

*

Yossi Tavili drives up to his house in his jeep. He is coming back from the Golan where he has been digging up the ancient stones.

No, doctor, Yossi says to himself, the stones don’t talk to me. I don’t hear voices. He places the stones all around the house he shares with Keren. His back is strong. He’s never been stronger. Keren lies in bed with a migraine. She hears the rumble of the jeep, and the joy she has felt for thirty years since Yossi Tavili agreed to marry her is replaced with dread. The sleeping medicine she took the night before gives her strange dreams. Bondormin, it’s called. When she wakes up, she imagines that Yossi has walled her in. It is so dark in her bedroom that she can’t see anything. She pushes aside the curtain but sees only her reflection in the dark glass. There are stones beyond the window. Keren gasps and claws at the glass. “Keren.” She turns from the window to the door of her bedroom and Yossi’s face, his strange feral face, hovers over her. Keren screams.

Yossi takes hold of Keren’s hands gently and pulls her up to sitting. “Oh, Keren,” he says. “Don’t you love me anymore?” She melts a little, relents to his hands. He hasn’t spoken to her so gently since her forty-fifth birthday when they’d gone to the tzimer with the hot tubs and king size beds and decided that they would try for one last old-age baby. He holds her hands and leads her past their living room to the outside patio. She starts to speak but he puts his finger over her lips and kisses her.

The moon is so high it looks electric and it illuminates the Cyprus trees that stand guard throughout the kibbutz and the fields beyond. The dogs rustle and fall back into their sleep. Is it time to go? They wonder sleepily, but no, there are no boars to hunt tonight, and there are no stones to overturn.

Keren is in her nightgown. It billows around her ankles. The hammock swings on the porch. They stand together on the front patio. It is a perfect dry Upper Kerenlee night.

*

Keren’s sister Shira flies back to Tel Aviv from the kibbutz. The handsome fat editor of Haaretz, Avi Strauss, waits for her outside the airport. Avi leans back against his black chauffeured SUV. He’d left his cane inside the car. He wants to be virile. She is touched.

They drive into the heart of the city and out the other side to Jaffa and the restaurants on the sea in the Arab quarters where the food is the best. The driver parks beside an old establishment restaurant. Inside, there are sheiks and wizened ex-prime ministers. Shira has gone there many times with her father. The last time she was there with Avi, they saw Ariel Sharon, that old walrus, and Avi had hissed at him. Sharon had laughed as she’d thought he would and sent over cognac.

Now, at the table, Avi Strauss looks at her, cups her face in his hands. He is almost seventy-years-old. Shira is forty. She feels like a young girl. “Young women,” Avi says, “get the best of old men. We are our most charming trying to impress them.”

In his apartment off Rabin Square, he is very full, and farting. He looks at her apologetically. She would like to have a child. She will try and get pregnant. He would marry her if not for his blind wife in Herzyiliya and their three children.

Alas, he cannot perform. Tonight is not the night she will conceive. Flooded with sympathy, she pats his hand as they lie beside one another in his bed. Tomorrow night. Tomorrow night I will make up for it, he says. She knows he will. His large bloated belly is like a third person in the bed. He goes down on her. He tells her, “I won’t inflict Viagra on you.”

Two years earlier, at a fashion blogger party, he had seduced her by saying he would make a movie from her last novel. He knows people in America. She fell for him though she knows now the movie will never be made. In the next year he will finish his final book. Hollywood will option it. He will break up with her, take his wife and near-grown children across the sea, and die in the bed of an underage stripper somewhere in the Los Angeles Valley.

*

Yossi Tavili and Keren make love in the hammock. They hunker down low into one another, into the fabric of the hammock so it doesn’t pitch them out. The frequently beaten six-year-old who lives next-door watches from his window. Yossi wonders if the six-year-old is his son. Did he ever fuck his mother? If not, he will adopt him. He will take him to Petra, in Jordan, where the Red Rocks are. He had been to Jordan once, on a secret military mission (he’d been the driver) and those rocks have haunted him ever since.

In the morning Yossi and Keren wake up together entwined and stiff. Morning dew and sweat has made them damp. Yossi agrees to go again to a doctor. He agrees to see a doctor in a Druze village in the north so that it will be a secret. The doctor is supposed to be very good. He is revered in the Christian and Druze communities. They drive out through the hills and up the lonely canyon roads. The building is low and modern on the outskirts of the village. The doctor reads from a standard questionnaire: “Do you think you are the Messiah? Do you hear voices?”

“What number question is that?” Yossi asks the doctor. The doctor has blue eyes and is named Mohammed.

“Question number sixteen.”

Yossi Tavili watches the doctor’s finger slide across the paper as he makes his little notes. Sixteen is a crucial number. In every pile, there will now be sixteen stones.

*

Sagit has come from Berlin back to the kibbutz after finding neither fame nor fortune. What a relief it had been to live among all those guilty Germans. So much better than the unrepentant kibbutzim who watch the rockets fall into Quiryat Shmona but take no responsibility. In Berlin, there were drugs and there was pain, then a solid march to painkillers and on the cycle went. Beautiful and talented she had once been. Everyone in the kibbutz had thought she would one day be famous. She might have gone to America. America was the only place anyone went and made anything of themselves. Even the Russians she will teach in her government ulpan job confide to her that they are only there as a way to get to America. She might have gone if not for her German passport. The token prize of Holocaust survivor relatives not withstanding: The guilty, neutered Germans did hate their foreigners. Her black curly hair, her black eyes and tiny full figure. Passport or no, she would never be a German.

At midnight, she leaves her mother’s house with her iPod. She plugs the ear buds deep into her ears and blasts the music of her last show at Fashionhouse before the whole scene started to change. Sagit walks through the kibbutz, past the children’s house where she slept from age three months to thirteen, past the volunteer house, past the block of apartments where she moved after the children’s house. All the houses and apartments are private now. She pulls down a ripe peach and eats it neatly. She throws the pit into the bushes and climbs the fence that surrounds the pool. She rolls a boulder from the fence to the pool, fusses around with clothing and bits of rope that she ties tightly around her waist. She has the stone and she checks her knots. Then she turns off the iPod and sets it down on the grass. Let the last song played, Selbstmord Schlampe Hundchen, be her notification.

She launches herself into the pool. The boulder tied with the length of rope lances tight around her ankle. A strong swimmer, she thrashes about. The boulder settles on the pool floor without dragging her under. The rope is too long. Bad luck. Sagit’s bad luck. What will we do about Sagit? She dives down to untie the knot but the water is too dark, too cold. The knot is too strong. She comes up, cold and tired and furious with herself.

Roni, walking along the road and smoking a joint, sees that someone is in the pool. He climbs the fence quickly. It might be a deer.

He does not touch Sagit. The soft way he talks to her makes her weep a little. Once, when they were teenagers, he kissed her in the dining room. They were there to clean up after the Hanukah party. It was empty. Aaron, her boyfriend, had gone back to his room already. Does Roni remember? It seems inconceivable that he has children, slow Roni Markowitz. He dives in and hauls up the boulder and carries it to the side of the pool, dragging her exhausted body behind before slicing the rope with his pocketknife and setting her free.

*

Her attempt was one of a rash of suicides, Aliza says out loud. She has just heard the story of Sagit from Nina next door. First, there was the boy who jumped from the water tower. Then, the girl who set herself on fire outside the cafeteria. Now Sagit.

Yakov, in the next room, shouts out to her over the television news. “That is not a rash! Those suicides had ten years at least between them.”

Aliza wonders if Yossi Tavili will kill himself. He could take the pistol he keeps in his jeep, or perhaps a shotgun. He is a good shot. For years, not a night went by that jeeps filled with Tavili men and their cronies had not taken off into the Hula Valley, to the fields, to shoot the wild pig, the trife. It had been one of his many financial disasters: a butchery set up from planks of wood and stone in the back of his house. Only the Russians from the ulpan had come. Aliza had been ashamed.

*

And Keren wonders, who am I?

She walks and she wonders about the way she walks. How does her speech come out? How does an organic material, the weird flesh of the eyeball allow her to see? When has her gait acquired this timbre? This quality of sound as she pads across the tiled floor of the house that she and Yossi have just remodeled with money, a gift from her father?

She sits in the garden chair and crosses her knees. The kibbutz children play on the lawn. A shy boy stands off to the side of them, not daring to join. Keren’s mother watches her. Aliza smiles secretly to her in the event that Keren doesn’t return it. Since Keren’s children have grown, Keren hasn’t much use for her, but Aliza would wish to be her ally, her confidante. Like when Keren was a child and she helped Aliza with her younger siblings.

Keren’s oldest son Avi explains to Keren why his wife, the Danish volunteer, breastfeeds the three-year-old and insists on carrying him around in a sling.

“Ima,” he says to Keren, “in Africa, the children’s feet don’t touch the ground until they are five-years-old.”

“So that’s what I did wrong,” Keren says. Her lips grip like a vise onto the cigarette in her mouth. She has taken to smoking again. “Is that what you mean?”

*

Yossi comes in the evening and Keren braces herself. The children have all come to talk with her about their father. The children brace themselves. Aliza watches and waits. Men have always gone crazy. Even Yakov had his bad times. Yossi is clean and carrying flowers he picked from the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor, Mrs. Dorsman, the Englishwoman, comes out shaking an umbrella and shouting in English. This makes them laugh. Mrs. Dorsman did three ulpans and still can’t speak Hebrew. The Tavilis know no English.

Yossi gets down on one knee in front of Keren. The children edge away from him and Yossi turns and shouts, “Lech mi po! Get out of here!” He rips the flowers, pulls the petals off the pretty stems and tears their bald heads off.

“Abba,” says the youngest daughter Noga, the bravest, “You have to go. You’re not well. You’re frightening all of us. You need a hospital, medication. . .” She is a little fat, the edges of her push out her soldier’s uniform.

“Look, bitch,” Yossi says, crossing the patio. He and Noga stand nose to nose. “This is my house. I’m not going anywhere. It’s all of you who must leave. Only she can stay.” He points at his mother-in-law Aliza. “She’s the only one who was ever nice to me!”

Aliza turns her face away and walks quickly off the porch and into the darkness.

Yossi Tavili screws up into a rage. He begins to shout. Avi tries to calm him. Noga threatens to call the police. She picks up her cell phone, but Yossi snatches it away and flings it out the new French doors into the garden.

“Ima,” they cry.

Keren can’t think. She moves to protect her husband, her beloved husband. “Everyone out, please go. Please don’t call the police,” she says to Noga. “Just leave me alone with my husband. This is just between us.”

Yossi smirks at all of them as they leave. He grabs a handful of Mrs. Dorsman’s petals from the cement of the patio and sprinkles them over each child’s head as they pass. “This,” he says, “is the blessing of the father.”

Keren is shaking. Yossi Tavili grips her hand and leads her to the bedroom. He hums a song, a love song from twenty years ago, when they were young. “We were going to try and have another baby, do you remember?” he says. Keren falls to the bed and moans, covering her face with her hands.

“You must go, Yossi Tavili. You must go. You can’t stay here and frighten everyone like this! You must go somewhere until you get well.”

He freezes, hardens. “Where will I go? I have no money. Your father froze my accounts. Your brother told the field manager not to hire me. The police took my guns. I can’t hunt. Where would I go, Keren?”

“I don’t know,” she says. She looks up at him.

He sits on the bed beside her and considers it. “You have to give me money then. Money to eat.”

“How much?”

“Eight hundred.”

She’s got twelve hundred shekels hidden away in the laundry room. Money she’d taken from the account two months ago when he’d started to spend so much of it. She goes to the laundry room, returns, and hands the money to Yossi Tavili. He kisses her hard on the mouth, backs out the door. He rips up the bills, one by one, by one, kicking them into Mrs. Dorsman’s flowerbeds. The door closes with a bang.

Yossi Tavili is on the main road by the tree. He stacks the stones one on top of the other. It is obvious to him, if no one else, that they are sacred stones with a high spiritual vibration. They are the stones his forefathers scraped their sandals on. He will take them to Moses who waits on the other side of the sea. They don’t deserve to be buried and forgotten. They have been under the ground for so long, doing their dark work.

*

Sagit heads out to the grove of pecan trees with her bag and her iPod. She walks through the wadi. The concrete pond bends the light of the moon. The peacocks howl in the night. She hears shotgun fire. Crazy Yossi Tavili and his hunting friends chasing the poor animals through the fields, she thinks. Nothing ever changes around here.

The trees lean down to her, caught in the wind. If she could grip the tip of one of them, it would launch her into the sky.

She swallows all the pills stashed in her pockets and throws herself into the pond before the sleeping medicine, Bondormin, turns her limbs to concrete. What to do about Sagit? Sagit will take care of herself, thank you very much.

*

Oh, the voice says, so you’re giving yourself a little mikvah, is that it? The Ethiopians have set up a perfectly good one just down the hill you know. It’s very clean. They are devout, the little schwartzim. I hear they steal chlorine from the pool.

Hands reach under her arms and set her on the concrete lip of the pond. “But you’d know all about the pool wouldn’t you. Did you come all the way from Berlin to drown yourself? Have they no water in Germany?”

Sagit, who knows all about being saved, had in fact once been baptized by born again Christians in Bonn. They’d dosed her with methadone, prayed over her in a caravan and nearly drowned her in the Rhine.

Sagit looks behind to see Yossi Tavili who turns a finger clockwise around his pointed elfish ear. “We are the crazy ones in the kibbutz. You and I.”

She shakes her head. She is nothing like Yossi Tavili.

“You want something in you killed but you don’t want killing it to kill you but you’re willing to kill yourself in order to kill it if that’s what it takes. Is that right?”

Sagit blinks at him.

“That’s no good, now is it? Life is heaped up full of disappointment. You have to be crazy enough to keep carrying one stone up after the other. To fill your pockets with them and the back of your jeep.” Yossi takes off his filthy shirt and dries her face with it. “‘And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.’ I keep the rocks and give the spirit back to God, but what you need, Sagit, is an anchor.” Yossi Tavili stands up and pulls the bows of a spruce, cutting them with the large hunting knife strapped to his leg. He lays them down on the dry ground. “Here you go, this will be soft-like. Lie down here and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. “

She lies on the ground while Yossi Tavili fusses around her. First he builds a low stonewall around her. “I will be right back,” he tells her. As he walks away, he wonders, Should I just shoot her? He has his pistol in the jeep, under the seat. Should I just shoot her? He heard about all her problems in Berlin. Before she died, his mother was best friends with Sagit’s mother. Yossi has heard over the years of Sagit’s drug addiction, abortions, and divorce. And worst of all to her mother: her brief conversion to Christianity.

Should I shoot her?

Sagit lies on the soft boughs, near sleeping, her wet clothes cold on her skin. She half listens to the forest around her. It drones on above her. Yossi Tavili returns. Glistening with sweat, he hoists a large stone from off his naked shoulders. It settles carefully on the pile of rocks so that her body is only half covered. The stone is warm. It retains heat from the sun. “Don’t want the stone to crush you,” he says. “I made that wall strong.” He laughs and disappears again. He returns again with another stone and settles this one over the top half of her body. He grunts as it settles on the stones. Inside the stone tomb Yossi has built Sagit is passed out and snoring.

Yossi Tavili stands a moment, swaying slightly over her. He has cared for her well. With his cell phone he dials the number for his uncle who mans the front gate. There is no answer so he leaves a message of Sagit’s whereabouts. He leaves, scattering a handful of pebbles and his cell phone into the cement pond of the wadi.

“Now who's crazy,” Yossi says. After all, only a maniac can stop time. He knows the direction to go. He leaves his Jeep by the side of the wadi, and heads to the red rocks of Petra, on foot.

Bethany Ball was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She has lived in Santa Fe, NYC, Miami, the Galilee, and New Jersey and is finally settled somewhere between the Lower Hudson Valley and the East Village.

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