Real Israelis

A36 semgirl6

The only part of the Muslim Quarter I’d ever been to was the market that started outside the David Citadel, and stretched to the courtyard overlooking the Western Wall. It was a dark, crowded passage, full of men in kafiyehs trying to sell Hebrew t-shirts and fancy brass tea sets to American tourists. Walking that narrow path always made my breath shallow and nervous. I walked with my head down, not making eye contact with any of the merchants, and not examining any of the things they sold. I could never shake off the feeling that I was invading their space, and outnumbered. Most of my time in Jerusalem was spent in ways that made it easy to forget there even were Muslims in the city, but there they all were, and seeing them made me guilty and afraid.

“Have you always lived there?”

“My grandfather was born in the house. We’ve lived in it since the Turks.”

“Is it just your immediate family?”

“No.” He smiled. “There are seventeen of us.”

“Is it a big house?”

He shrugged. “It’s old. There are lots of very small rooms.”

I leaned back heavily against the couch. I hadn’t expected that there would be so much other stuff mixed in with the sexual tension. I was curious about him, and I wanted to talk to him, but the distance between our lives was hard to ignore.

We were quiet for a minute, and then Sami touched my hair, moving it behind my shoulder. The anxiety I’d been feeling spiked for a second and then fell away as he leaned towards me, smiling and making a soft shushing noise with his lips. I remembered the way this part worked from when I’d had a boyfriend during sophomore year of high school: the angling of the bodies, and the way kissing was always more work than I expected. I let my hand rest flat on Sami’s chest, and I felt his fingertips on my thigh.

We kissed for a long time, with me slowly moving so that I was almost sitting in Sami’s lap, kneeling between his thighs with my elbows on his shoulders and my hands cupping the roundness of his skull. My mind wandered through the sounds of our lips moving, the feeling of his tongue against mine, the taste of coffee in both of our mouths.

After a few minutes he closed his mouth and let his head fall back against the wall, breathing hard. I sat back on my heels and watched his Adam’s apple bob. He was looking straight up at the ceiling, and I waited for him to make eye contact, counting to five slowly, the soft sliding fear moving back into my chest. When he still didn’t face me I stood up and went to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water. The water was warm from the faucet, but I drank it without letting my gaze travel up from the counter, putting the empty glass next to the sink when I was done, and then walking back over to the couch. Sami stood up, smiling weakly.

“I need to go home.”

“Okay.” I followed him towards the front door. I had decided I was not going to walk him downstairs to the gate.

“May I call you tomorrow?” We faced each other, and his hand rested on the doorknob.

I shrugged. “If you want.”

“Okay.” He leaned down to kiss me, and before I realized I had decided to turn my head I had already done it, offering him my cheek and watching him grip the doorknob tightly. I wanted to undo it then, seeing his face as he straightened up, shame obvious in his expression. As he stepped out of the door I allowed myself to touch his bicep and smile, but I’m not sure he noticed.

Continue reading…

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Author of Jewrotica's Double Mitzvah column, Tamar Fox is a writer and editor in Philadelphia. She will try anything once, including open relationships, dating someone who is chalav yisrael, and going to Suriname.