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 don't want you going," he says. "You're 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 can't go?"

"I'm not saying that...exactly."

"I want to go."

Avi, who was in the driver's 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 he's saying. I wonder what they're both saying.

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

"What?" I say.

"Avi assures me he'll 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 don't appreciate being ordered around by you."

"And I don't appreciate a spoiled American bitch delaying my vacation," he says low enough so only I can hear.

If my looks could kill, I'd 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 he's a great dad. But I bet after the trip he'll 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, I'd 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. I've even seen them kiss. And this is after having four kids. And they're old, like in their forties or something.

To top it off, Jessica's mom makes these little fluffy low-carb cookies that just melt in your mouth. And you know why she makes 'em? I'll 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 won't even buy anything low-carb at the store. Why? Because my Mom doesn't 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. It's like a test.

I hate tests.

What's 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. I'm keeping it in my pocket wherever I go ...like my very own shield.

When I hear the truck start up again, it doesn't take me long to throw my backpack into the flatbed and jump in.

Within minutes we're 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 they're 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, that's what it feels like. One's 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 (who's on one side of me) or Ofra, (who's on the other).

Can't Avi drive a little slower? It feels like this rocky dirt road has never been traveled before.

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

An hour later we finally stop. There's 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 I'm 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 isn't much. I'm 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 there's something I'm not getting. And I'm still not over the fact that he called me a spoiled American bitch.

When I don't answer, he shrugs and starts to walk off. I can't see where he's going because it's so dark. But I know he's 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. He's 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, he's 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.

We're both standing there, face to face as he keeps his hands on my waist and doesn't release me. His grasp almost feels like a caress and I don't want him to let me go. I feel safe when he's 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 wasn't stiff enough at that moment. He walks away from me and I hear him give a short laugh. Snakes? Is he kidding?

"Don't worry," Doo-Doo says as he hands me a flashlight. "He's just trying to scare you."

"Well he's 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 I'm standing here by the Jeep.

I should have brought Mutt, he'd protect me from snakes and rude boys. Getting attached to the pup wasn't 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. She's 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. They're talking in Hebrew. I'm 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. I'm like a dumb mimic, because I don't even know what they're talking about!

For all I know they're saying, "Amy's 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 can't believe they're so behind on the episodes here.

"You know so much," Ofra says.

I'm feeling a bit better now, thanks to Ofra. Even Snotty seems to be listening to me without my famous sneer on her 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 don't know what I'd do.

We walk away from the group to find a good place for squatting in private. We both have our flashlights on. I'm 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 we're a little ways from the group, should I turn my flashlight off so Ofra doesn't 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 I'm doing.

I realize pretty quickly I'm not a good squatter. Especially while trying to hold a flashlight under my chin. In fact, I'm horrible at it. Of course with a toilet I have no problems. Girls biologically weren't 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 that's impossible in the position I'm in. And I'm feeling a bit lightheaded. I know what you're thinking. That I'm probably going to fall right into the pee because I'm in a crab position and am feeling kind of off-balance.

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

"Why does O'snot hate me?" I ask Ofra as we walk back to the campsite. I thought I didn't want to know, but I guess when it comes right down to it, I do.

She stops and looks at me thoughtfully. "It's a pride thing."

"Could you be a little more specific?"

"Well, Avi and O'snot have a history ..."

"I knew it!" I say loudly.

"No, not like that. Well, it's like, uh ..."

I'm standing patiently waiting for her to finish. Okay, not so patiently. But I don't think she realizes it.

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

"I'm going to kill you if you don't tell me."

"They've always been more than great friends. They've been like brother and sister. Avi used to date a lot of girls, but he hasn't in over a year."

"And ..."

"Avi's going through a rough time right now. He's kind of been a jerk to everyone. O'snot thought if she and Avi were a couple, he'd get over whatever is eating him on the inside. He rejected her and I guess she's still upset about it."

"She hated me before she even met me."

"Well, she wasn't planning on sharing her room for the summer with an American either."

"What's 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 don't have to join the army while we have to go as soon as we turn eighteen. Girls for two years, boys for three. Don't 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."