Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Peer pressure. It sucks when you’re a kid and it sucks when you’re an adult. Well, a bunch of friends in my favorite thread (The No News is No News Purgatory Thread) of my favorite message board (Absolutewrite.com) post excerpts from their work-in-progress (WIP) every Tuesday (you can see links to many on My Blog List). It’s appropriately named, “Teaser Tuesday.” I’ve been sheepish about doing it, but finally gave in. No one was pressuring me to do it, of course, but I hate feeling left out. So here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of my WIP called, Daughters of Earth. It’s a science fiction novel with parallel story arcs set in our time and the post-apocalyptic future where men are extinct and women rule the world. Mind you, this is the unedited first draft.

The scene takes place on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 in Jerusalem, Israel. The two main characters in both arcs are Dassah Shaul and Leah Abravanel. Dassah is the child of Ukrainian immigrants while Leah is a third-generation Israeli.


The girls were fortunate to live in the Northside of Gilo. The apartment buildings, schools, and synagogues in the Southside had been bombarded by sniper gun fire and mortar attacks from the nearby Palestinian controlled town of Beit Jala across the valley for nearly two years. Southside residents filled their rear facing windows with sandbags and huddled in rooms at the opposite ends of their apartments whenever the shootings or bombings resumed. A concrete wall, hastily built by the IDF provided some protection.

The attacks finally stopped this past May with the IDF’s thirty-six day long military assault on the West Bank. Leah and Dassah worried about Moshe when he was deployed for the operation. The mission was a success for the girls because Moshe came home unscathed and there was no news of any more attacks on Gilo. News, that is, that the girls heard from neighbors or classmates because their parents didn’t allow them to watch the evening newscasts or read newspapers. Dassah rather watch Disney videos with Leah and draw pictures on the newspapers with her anyway.

The girls took the Egged line No. 32A red bus every morning to school, and today, Tuesday the 18th, was no different. But this was better than all other days because it was the last day of the school year. Dassah wore her normal summer attire of t-shirt and shorts with sandals while Leah was in an ankle length flower dress. Olek dropped them off at the bus stop, kissed each goodbye, and wished both a good day. Like every other second grader in Israel, the girls lugged stone heavy book bags over half their size.

“Let’s sit up front,” Dassah said after she paid the bus driver.

Leah turned around, “Nah, let’s go all the way to the back.”

The bus was not yet full. The girls made their way to the back of the bus dragging their book bags behind them. Leah took the window seat in the back row. Fortunately, the seats were cushioned.

“Put your bag on your lap,” Leah said. She grunted and lifted the bag onto her thighs.

Dassah scrunched her nose. “Why?”

“Just do it.”

Dassah sucked her teeth. “Alright.”

Leah bent down behind the bag and whispered, “I want you to tell me some more bad Ukrainian and Russian words and I’ll tell you them in Hebrew.”

Dassah giggled. “Sure.” She pursed her lips. “Nedonosok and eblan mean?”

“Moron,” Leah answered excitedly.

“Good. Opezdol and dubiina mean?”


“Good. Do you know what a mudak is?”


“It’s an idiot who thinks he knows it all.”

Leah giggled. “Okay, now some new ones.”

Sraka is—” Dassah shifted to the side and patted her bottom.

“Ass,” Leah said.

“Ahh, ‘ass,’ ” Dassah said. “Then guess what potselui mou zhopy means.”


“Kiss my ass.”

They clasped hands and chortled. “More,” Leah said.

Himno,” Dassah said. She clenched her eyes shut and groaned as if straining. She pointed to the ground then pinched her nose close.

“Poop,” Leah said.

“ ‘Poop,’ ” Dassah repeated with a nod.

“How about this?” Dassah pulled down the collar of her pink t-shirt, batted her eyelashes, puckered her lips, and did kissing sounds. “Sukka.”


“Yes, sukka or shliuha.” Dassah repeated the kissing sound with puckered lips, and rubbed Leah’s arm.”


“Slut? You’re sure that’s what it is? I’m talking about loose women.”

“Well, that’s what my mother calls women who don’t cover themselves and hang all over men.”

“Okay, slut it is.”

The bus stopped and picked up more passengers. The bus was packed now. One of the new passengers squeezed herself down the aisle. She made eye contact with Dassah and smiled. She wore a business suit and had a long golden braid that reached her legs.

Krasyva,” Dassah blurted.

“What’s that?” Leah asked.

“It means beautiful.”

Leah nodded. “Yeah, beautiful.” She pinched Dassah’s arm.

“Ouch!” yelped Dassah. “Why’d you do that for?”

“We only have two more stops left. How ‘bout some more?”

Dassah offered some more bad words in Russian and Ukrainian and Leah translated them into Hebrew. Before they reached the next stop, Dassah said, “I’m getting tired. Let me do one last one.”

“Okay, what is it?”

Ya tebe kohaju.”

“What’s it mean?”

Dassah pecked Leah on the cheek with a kiss. “It means, ‘I love you.’ ”

Leah blushed and grasped Dassah’s hand.

The bus stopped and Dassah shifted her book bag to her left thigh in the small space between her and the passenger next to her. They looked out the window. A couple of college students were getting on. The last one to board the bus was a young man with a red shirt, sunglasses, and a big backpack.

“He must be going to our school,” Dassah joked.

Leah chuckled. “Okay, how about one—”


  1. Oh, God...I think I know what's about to happen.

    I love that conversation, dirty words in other languages, been there, done it, seen it, bought the t-shirt.

  2. lol at the kids and the dirty words. So true.

    Like Sue, I'm guessing something bad is about to happen....

  3. This made me laugh. The first words I learned in Russian were fairly similar. And I was in college. :D

  4. You had me at "women ruled the world" Ha-ha. Nice read - the sharing "bad words" in other languages made me smile - definitely fits kids that age. Good work!

  5. Good stuff! Love the lively discourse between the girls. LOL on the dirty words. Ha! :)

  6. Oh man, I'm hooked, Steve. Like the others, I have a bad feeling about this and I wonder if the brief debate about whether to sit in the front or the back of the bus will take on extra meaning. Very nicely done!

  7. You hooked me as soon as I got to the dialogue - it really snaps and pulls me right into the story. But the first three paragraphs feel like set up, and I'm not sure I needed them.