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This Moment

Ron Dahan
May 29, 2024
Editor’s note: Ron Dahan will participate in the Jerusalem International Writers Festival in Mishkenot Sha’ananim taking place on May 27-30. 

October 7, 2023. Dawn. Sinai.

At 6 a.m., the door swung open. Slowly. The boy woke up immediately and sat up straight. My spouse’s face smiled at him. Are you coming?, she asked. Yes, he said, and was outside in no time at all. The girl took a moment longer. She was still wrapped in sleep’s gentle web, tempting her back to bed, but she stretched it until it tore and she, too, rushed outside. I stayed in bed.

They must’ve strolled on the pleasant sand, the most beautiful of women, my son and daughter, and her three girls. They must’ve climbed up to the second story of the wooden structure overlooking the sea, sat down in one of its chill-out corners, and observed, just as they’d planned, the sunrise. The Red Sea was spread before them like a dark, blue blanket, jutting only against Mount Sinai’s foothills, while above, the sun, determined, peeked out. They must’ve sung some morning song, maybe talking about this vacation that was just about to end, maybe played some word game they loved so much. They must’ve filmed each other, making some video clip and complaining about having no internet access so that they could upload it to their Instagram stories. I hear them laughing. The entire camp can hear them laughing.

The sun is climbing up in the sky, bringing the heat with it. Now there are things to do. The boy is surely running to the restaurant to order his pancake one last time. The girl and the eldest daughter stayed behind for a bit longer, watching the water troubled by the wind coming in from the east. More girls scattering all about, and my love returning to their hut to start packing.

I finally bolt up in bed and look around me. My God, how do I get on top of all this mess? I get up and step outside. The light is blinding but the day is bright and clear and the sea is right in front of me. In the next balcony over my love is already picking up and folding clothes. I lean on the shared banister until she notices me and comes in for a kiss. We kiss, the waiter holding the boy’s pancake, two girls jumping around in the restaurant’s second floor, another doing cartwheels in the sand that’s growing hotter, and another girl beginning her journey over to us, her face frightened, and on her lips the news.

That’s the moment I would like to arrest in time. To freeze it, just for a few minutes, no longer. To break away from the kiss and tell my love how much I love her. To go to each and every boy and girl, hug them, and tell them, remember this moment, cherish it, there will be no other like it. In a few moments, you will no longer be the same children. Sinai’s skies are about to come falling on your heads, on all of our heads. I love you, and I am so sorry.

And now, I’ll turn to the frightened child: Tell us the news.

Ron Dahan is a poet and fiction writer. He has published three poetry collections and a novel, Come As You Are. He lives in Israel with his wife, and daughter.