This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples is from Saga VI, Children’s Children, of my magnum opus Cinnimin (which will end up as one book in 12 volumes, all of it bar the opening and finale handwritten). It’s now September 1994, and Cinni’s granddaughter Agnieszka is volunteering on a Haifa kibbutz after high school.
Agnieszka has had a huge crush on the young kibbutz director, Ezra, since she saw his picture in the brochure, but now she’s starting to feel like she were dreaming if she ever thought she stood a chance with someone so handsome, who’s not a virgin, from a different culture, and four years older. Her cousin Toni and her friends Lillian, Raina, and Nate are trying to tell her they think Ezra likes her back and not to be so quick to rule out romance, but Agnieszka has made up her mind to leave with Lillian as soon as Rosh Hashanah is over. Her plans, however, are soon derailed when Ezra finds out about them.
Lillian had just changed her hair color to peach and was looking through the yellow pages for tattoo parlors. Then Ezra came into the room looking for Agnieszka.
“Isn’t it just a little bit odd for a kibbutz director to pay so much attention to a volunteer?”
“With any luck, she won’t be a volunteer forever. Third time’s the charm. I want her to meet my parents. They came here for Rosh Hashanah, and my brother Alon.”
“Did you know Agnieszka goes to services at your synagogue? She told me and Toni she’s seen you there.”
“She goes there with some of my residents?”
“There and back, alone. You’re the only resident who gives us the time of day.”
“I can’t let that continue. She could be raped or killed walking alone at night. Nobody would dare harm her if they saw who her escort was.”
“Yes, she’s always talking about how well-built you are, like a Greek god. I’m sure everyone notices it, but it’s sure made an impression with her.”
“Does she say anything else about me?”
“She’s my second-best friend after my cousin Crystal. I can’t betray her confidences.”
Agnieszka came into the room wearing a low-cut blue silk dress. Ezra turned into one huge smile.
“You’re even more beautiful than usual. I’m going to insist you walk with me tonight. I don’t want some lowlife to rape or murder you. My parents and brother are here till the holiday ends on Wednesday night, but they’re staying in a hotel. I can walk you back to Beit Alizah tonight without them. I’d also love to show you some of the scenery at night.”
“How many directors are that nice to volunteers? Out of all the current volunteers, you’ve picked me.”
“I felt an instant connection to you. Like déjà vu. And you’re also beautiful.”
“I’ve never had a problem walking alone at night. And you’ve only known me for two and a half months.”
“I hope I get to know you for the rest of my life.” Ezra took her by the hand and led her into the main house, where his king-size room was located. “I want you to meet my family. That’s my fifteen-year-old brother Alon, and my parents Talia and Dov.”
“Is this your girlfriend?” Alon asked in Hebrew.
Confident that Agnieszka only spoke English, Russian, Armenian, German, and Hungarian, Ezra spoke back to them in his native tongue. “She’s a volunteer from America, in Atlantic City. She’s here with her friend Lillian for two years, and I fell in love with her the moment I saw her sleeping her first morning here. Tonight I’m going to tell her how I feel.”
“A volunteer?” his mother pestered. “There are no women in the city, or other residents?”
“That’s why it’s so strange. I can think of no other reason why I’d feel such a connection to a volunteer besides she was divinely sent here. I think she’s a keeper!”
“You’ll probably be rejected again. I’d be highly surprised if she cares for you enough to remain here and not go back to her life in America.”
Agnieszka walked out of the room into the evening. She didn’t care that Ezra walked after her trying to get her to come back. Nobody had ever heard of a director lavishing so much attention on a volunteer. It was too good to be true. She had nothing over a local girl. Perhaps he even had an ulterior motive, like Pete had for being nice to Octavia. The thought repulsed her.