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written by: Michal Reibenbach
There’s my father Carl, his dream is to immigrate to Israel. His main dilemma is how to convince my mother to agree to his plan. See how content my mother, Andrea is with her life just the way it is. After all, our cottage has finally been renovated, and she loves the surrounding countryside, as well as our neighbors in the manor house, her small car, and of course her maid. She has everything she wants except for one thing; for although she already has me and my adorable six-year-old sister, she pines for another child. Listen to Carl explaining to her that even though he works hard there never seems to be enough money, and having another child is not an option. However, he has worked out that if they manage to sell their cottage, they will have enough money to immigrate. Hear how eventually, my parents came to an agreement: mother will agree to immigrate to Israel and in return, father will agree to her having another child.
Look at the way we attach a trailer full of our belongings onto our car as we drive to Dover. Then at Dover, we board a ferry over to France, where we speed along the roads. See how my little sister Nurit sits on mother’s lap up in the front of the car. She looks like a miniature version of mother, chestnut-colored hair and freckles. Listen to how charmingly my parents sing songs together as we drive along. Look at the way I dangle our wet washing out of the car’s rear window, where it flaps around furiously in the wind until it eventually dries. Listen to my father repeatedly saying, ‘Take a good look at the clouds, in Israel the sky is clear, there aren’t any clouds.’ Each time I obediently gaze up at the clouds lazily drifting across the blue sky. Notice how the trip takes on a mythical reality to me, causing me to feel as if magic stardust has been sprinkled over our little family. Note how my parents never make any plans as to where we’ll spend each night; in the evenings we simply stop at whichever hotel we happen to come across. It’s the ‘off-peak’ season of the year and as a result, the hotels we stay in are cheap.
One evening we find ourselves the only visitors at a majestic castle, in which the spacious entrance hall is lined with figures dressed in armor. Another evening we find ourselves the sole guests at a small hotel, to which we wearily arrive well after darkness has fallen. See our utter astonishment when the next morning as we are leaving the hotel, in the now bright sunlight, we see that half of the old hotel building had at some point disintegrated into ruins; it looks awfully dangerous and as if at any moment the whole building might topple over. It is then obvious to us as to why there hadn’t been any other visitors! We laugh nervously.
Listen to us as we play the game ‘I spy with my little eye’ as we travel along. The whole family is participating in the game happily and enthusiastically until father stops the car at a sideways cafeteria for a ‘pee’ break. We ladies seek out and enter the women’s washroom. I exclaim loudly and jokingly, ‘I spy with my little eye someone sitting on the lavatory!’ and with so saying I fling the door of the lavatory wide open. To my utter amazement, I actually do see an old little lady sitting on the toilet. I quickly say, ‘sorry’ and slam the door shut again. Mother who is standing behind me doubles up in squeals of laughter, which causes me to join in. ‘Did you see the expression on that poor woman’s face?’ Mother manages to blurt out before yet another bout of merriment. Laughter is contagious and now Nurit is also laughing. See the three of us hoot uncontrollably until tears roll down our cheeks and our ribs ache. When the little old lady finally emerges out of the toilet, in order to hide our amusement mother turns around so as to hide her face and I hang my head down. Poor dear, she feels embarrassed and she rushes out of the restroom quickly. After the old woman has fled, mother and I catch each other’s eye and we start laughing again!
The trip through France is fun and exhilarating and I am so happy. My parents are like two people transformed. Mother is in high spirits for she has happy news. She has wasted no time and she is already pregnant. Father is also happy because at long last he is fulfilling his old dream of immigrating to Israel. As for me, I am delighted because he hasn’t beaten me along the way, not even once. I wish the journey would last forever.
Watch as at Marseilles, we board a liner ship which steams over the Mediterranean into the direction of Israel. I enjoy standing on the deck, my eyes sweeping over the endless sea surrounding us or watching the swells of water gliding past the ship. I feel as if I have drifted into another dimension; where time and every-day life are temporarily suspended. On our second evening aboard the ship, I asked mother's permission, ‘May I go down to the ballroom to watch the dancing and listen to the music?’
‘Yes darling, in fact, we’ll all come with you,’ she agrees.
Upon arriving at the ballroom, we discover that there aren’t any free seats. Mother eventually spots a small table and we decide to settle ourselves onto it. Thus, the whole family sits down on the table and watches on as people dance around to the loud music played by a little band. Hear the enormous ‘crack’ as the table beneath us collapses. Once again we think the situation is very funny, and we all laugh long and heartily!
As we are standing to one side, see the way a pale boy, a little bit older than me, approaches me and asks, ‘Would you like to dance?’
‘I’m sorry,’ I reply, ‘I don’t know how, I’ve never danced before.’ ‘It’s easy, I’ll teach you,’ offers the boy.
‘Go on,’ urges mother.
Watch as I accompany the boy onto the dance floor where he patiently teaches me the steps to the Waltz. ‘One two three—one two three,’ he gently instructs me. I soon get the hang of it. I feel wonderful as if I am ‘floating on air’ as we dance over the floor.
We have been at sea for eight days and today as our ship is about to dock at Haifa’s port notice how I scan the sky above the city curiously. I am surprised to see billowing clouds floating in the blue sky like white candy floss. ‘There are just as many clouds here in Israel as there were in England!’ I exclaim indignantly to my father.
She has two boys and six grandchildren.
Lives in Jerusalem.
The author has had stories published by Cafelit, Literary Yard, Grant Hudson's Anthology, 'Miracles' and Spillwords.