"Ha'kol b'seder," Ron responds.

I never thought I'd be sorry I don't know Hebrew. In school, I take Espanol.

My heart is still racing when I ask, "What are you saying? What's going on?" I'm afraid of the answer, but I'm trying to be brave so I can tell the American Secret Service agents all the information I obtained before I escaped. The American government will want to know what's going on here, I'm sure of it.

"You're not an Israeli citizen," Ron says. "And you're not about to be drafted into any army."

"Then what did that soldier say to you?"

"He asked me what was wrong and I told him everything's fine. That was it."

Likely story, I think. But I follow him back to the immigration lady, mostly because he has a grip on my arm like a vise.

He speaks to the lady in Hebrew this time, probably to make sure I don't understand him. For all I know he's negotiating a deal to have me sold into child slavery. Although I consider myself pretty up-to-date on current events and I've never actually heard of Israeli child slavery.

Before long, the lady stamps my passport (which Mom had me get for emergency purposes a year ago and dummy me agreed to it, thinking she was secretly planning to take me to Jamaica or the Bahamas) and we head to the baggage claim area. We only have to walk twelve steps before we're there.

"Come with me while I get a cart," Ron orders.

"I'll just wait here," I say, because I want him to know I refuse to take parental orders from him.

He crosses his arms across his chest. "Amy, with the drama you just created back there I'm not about to play the trusting fadder right now."

I'm on a roll and can't resist. "You haven't been good at playing the loving fadder, either," I say, the words rolling off my tongue as if someone else is making me say them. "What kind of fadder can you play, Ron? You know, so I can recognize it when I see it."

Ron doesn't show anger too often, but even in the small amount of time I've spent with him I know by the sounds he makes or the change in his breathing patterns when something gets in his craw.

"Don't think you're too old to get punished by me, young lady."

I have my famous sneer ready. "Get a clue, Daddy Dearest. Being here with you is punishment enough."

I'm not usually this rude, truly I'm not. But my resentment toward Ron and insecurity about his fatherly love makes me act bitchy. I'm not even aware of it half the time. I guess if I'm rude to him, I'm giving him a reason not to love me.

Breathing pattern change. "Wait. Here. Or. Else," he says.

He stalks off, but I can't just stand here. I scan the airport and my eyes focus on the one thing most teenagers can't resist.

A Coke machine. (Insert harp music here, because that's what's playing inside my head.)

I walk through the crowd as if in a trance. Cold Cokes are calling out to me, "Amy, Amy, Amy. I know you're hot and cranky. Amy, Amy, Amy. I know you're sweating like a disgusting pig. Amy, Amy, Amy. I'll solve all of your problems."

I touch the Coke machine and immediately feel refreshed. I get ready to put my money in the inviting slot and for the first time in twenty-four hours I feel a smile coming on. It's comforting to know even in the Middle East Coke is available. Then I look at the price. My Coke addiction is about to cost me a sizeable amount of cash.

My mouth goes wide and I give a little shriek. "Seven dollars and eighty cents? That's robbery!"

"That's the price in shekels," a mother with two children hanging on her says in an Israeli accent. "Seven shekels and eighty ah-goo-roat."

"Shekels? Ah-goo-roat?" I don't have shekels. And I sure as hell don't have ah-goo-roats. Or goats if that's what she'd said.

I only have American dollars, but I find a sign that indicates a bank is in the airport. I follow the sign, heading straight for the bank. It's at the other end of the terminal. If I hurry, Ron won't even notice I'm gone.

But as I get to the bank, there's a line. To top it off, the biggest group of slowpokes are in front of me. I should go back to the baggage claim area, but I don't want to lose my spot in line. If these people would just move a little faster, I'd have my shekels and ah-goo-roats for my Coke in no time.

When I look at my watch, I wonder how many minutes I've been waiting. Ten? Twenty? It's so easy to lose track.

Finally, I'm next. I take a twenty-dollar bill out of my wallet and hand it to the banker dude.

"Passport?" he says.

"I just want to exchange money," I clarify.

"Yes, I understand. I need your passport number for the exchange."

"My ...dad has it," I say. Ron took it after it was stamped so it wouldn't get lost. "Can't you just give me shekels without it?"

"No. Next," he says, then hands me my twenty back and looks behind me for the next customer.

My mouth drops open. I wasted all this time for a Coke and I still can't get one. Unbelievable.

I head back to the baggage claim and spot Ron. He's talking to two soldiers and when he looks my way, my first instinct is to run in the opposite direction. I did nothing wrong. Yes, he told me to stay put, but I swear I thought I'd only be gone a minute.

Call it teenage intuition, but somehow I don't think Ron will listen to my explanation with an open mind. He tells the soldiers something and then walks over to me, deliberately slow. I think he's taking so long because he's very likely thinking of ways to kill and dismember me. Do they teach Dismemberment 101 in commando school?

Ron finally reaches me and I brace myself. Sounds like "arrr" and "yuh" come out of his mouth, but then he turns toward the baggage claim carousel with our luggage taking a ride on it. I notice our bags are the only ones left. He yanks them off and tosses them on a cart as if they weigh two pounds.

My suitcase was over the weight limit. I know this because he had to pay over a hundred dollars extra to get it on the plane. Note to self: Ron is very strong.

I just watch him, waiting for his wrath to come. Believe me, I know it's coming. What's scary is I expected it to have come already.

A predictable parent is good. On the other hand, an unpredictable parent is a teenager's worst nightmare.

Now Ron storms off through the area marked "exit" pushing the cart with our bags.

And I'm still standing here, my feet planted on the ground in this strange airport.

Right about now it occurs to me my dear old daddy just one-upped me.


Normally I'd wait it out as long as I could and make him sweat. Let him think I may not follow him ever. But as I glance at the two soldiers who are now walking toward me, I turn and hightail my ass right through the exit.

Goodbye pride, hello Israel.


Change makes me itch .

I spot Ron by the car rental counter. He's not even concerned about me or looking to see if I followed him. I stand next to him, but he doesn't acknowledge my presence.

I huff loudly.

He still doesn't look at me.

The lady at the counter hands him a key and tells him something in Hebrew. He smiles at her, says " Todah" and starts pushing the cart with our bags on it.

"I'm sorry," I say. "Now stop ignoring me."

He stops. "Does it ever occur to you that I worry about your

I could lie, but what good would it do? "Frankly, no," I say.

He runs his hand through his hair. Why do guys do that when they're frustrated? Do they think it's macho? I know why girls don't do it. They'd mess up their hair they spent half an hour trying to tame, that's why. And also girls don't have to pretend to be macho.

"Come on," he says. "By the time we reach the moshav it'll be dark."

"Moshav? What's a moshav?" Is it "shopping mall" in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I'd be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home.

It's funny, when I think about the mall, I forget about the terrorist bombing that could happen there.

As we drive along the highway in our red rented Subaru, it's also easy to forget this is a war zone. It looks like a highway in the middle of New Mexico or something like that.

As we hit the Tel Aviv area, traffic jam city starts. I look out the window at the tall buildings.

Ron points to the right. "That's the Azrieli Tower. It's the tallest building in the Middle East," he says proudly.

It might as well have a bull's-eye on it. "What a great terrorist target," I mumble, but then realize Ron is looking at me sideways. "Well, it is." I hope it's well protected, because 9/11 changed just about every American I know. I look out the window as we're passing high tech buildings with names of American companies on them.

"Israel doesn't look anything like a third world country," I say.

"She's not a third world country."

She? Israel is a "she"? Well, she's pretty darn modern. In fact, the traffic looks just like we have back home.

Although I realize pretty quickly Israelis need to go to road rage school.

They're all yelling at each other out the windows and giving each other the finger when cut off. And I shriek when a bunch of people on those little motor scooters and motorcycles ride right in between the cars. They're not even weaving in the lanes; they're riding on the lines themselves!

"We've been in the car an hour. When are we gonna get there?" I say.

"In another hour or so."

"You never answered me. What's a moshav? Is it a mall?"

He laughs and I don't think a moshav is a mall anymore.

"Have you ever heard of a kibbutz?' ' he asks me.

"You mean community living where people share everything? Listen, if you're taking me to a sick commune--"

"Why do you always do that?"

"Do what?"


"For your information, I do not overreact. Mom overreacts, especially when it comes to me coming home after my curfew. Oh, yeah, you wouldn't know anything about that because you're never there," I say sarcastically.


"Then why don't you come live with me for a while," he challenges.

Me, live with him? "Do you have a girlfriend?" I ask. I want him to say no because I have plans for him and Mom. It'll be easier if he's not attached.

"No. Do you have a boyfriend?"

Now wait one second. When did it turn around to him asking me the questions? "Maybe."

"Amy, when are you going to learn to trust me? I'm not the enemy, you know."

"Then tell me what a moshav is."

"A moshav is a close-knit community. It's similar to a kibbutz, but everyone owns their own property and farmland. The money isn't shared or pooled together."

Still sounds like a commune to me.

"I hope we're not staying there for long," I say. "I need to take a shower at the hotel and unpack. I have stuff probably melting in this heat--"

"We're not staying at a hotel," he says.

Now I'm going to overreact.

"What?" I say really loudly.

"We'll be staying with your aunt, uncle, cousins, and Sofia." He pauses. I know what's coming next, I do. But I'm not mentally prepared for it when he adds, "At the moshav."