Yerida

Three Sabbaths: Part 1

Ziva stood on the tarmac watching the plane as it taxied down the runway and lifted into the sky. So, she thought, everyone betrays me.

"Ziva," her father called from the car, "Come, we are leaving."

She paused to wipe a trace of moisture from her eye. It seemed she would be making her aliyah whether she wanted to or not. Perhaps it was a good thing. Israel ... Israel was all she had left. She walked to the car and got in without looking at her father.

Ziva kept her face directed towards the window as the car sped back towards Tel Aviv. It was just after the rainy season and the sere tans of the landscape were widely broken with patches of startling green. The old city of Jaffa was to the left, a warren of narrow streets and ancient buildings, modern Tel Aviv ahead of them, glittering with glass and steel. This was her country, a study in contrasts. This was her life, brown or green, old or new, for Israel or against. The middle ground she had tried to find was no more than ruins in the desert, swallowed by the sands.

"Levi and Michal have invited you for Shabbat tomorrow. You will come, yes?"

It was a question that was not a question but an order. Her father was anxious to bring her back into the fold, remind her of family and familiar custom. She did not answer but continued to stare out the window while thoughts of another homecoming Shabbat, nearly four years ago, found their way, unbidden and unwanted, into her mind.

*********

"They do not know that it was you who shot Ari. I thought it would be easier that way," her father explained.

"Even Levi?" she asked.

"Levi knows, he is Mossad. He will keep the secret."

And what about the secrets you keep from me, father. It was easier not to think of those.

Her aunt Sarai greeted them at the door and immediately enveloped Ziva in a hug.

"Bubelah, you are so thin. Did they not feed you in America?" she said as she held Ziva at arms length and studied her.

"Eema,when have you ever seen a fat Mossad agent!" exclaimed her cousin Levi as he walked up to greet them.

"Yes, Sarai," replied her father. "Ziva is like a knife, well honed."

"For shame Eli, she is also your daughter."

Ziva said nothing. She knew that for her father she was a weapon for Israel first, and his daughter only second. Ari too, had been a weapon but with a mind of his own. That had been the problem. Weapons should only do, not think, and try as she might she could not stop her mind from turning over what Ari had said. "I only wish I could see his face when he realizes he has created not a mole but a monster." She had killed him, killed her own brother, so what did that make her?

"Enough already," admonished Levi's wife Michal as she dragged Ziva away from her father and aunt. "She has not even seen the baby. And I told you Levi, no shop talk."

She led Ziva to the family room where her Uncle Shimon cradled Michal and Levi's fifteen month old daughter in his right arm. After her weeks away, the empty left sleeve of his shirt reminded her forcefully of the arm he had lost in a Hammas bombing many years ago. The same bombing that had killed her sister Tali. She blinked back the tears that threatened to well up in her eyes. He, however, appeared not to notice as he rocked his granddaughter confidently one handed.

"Can you believe how big she has gotten?" he asked Ziva by way of a greeting.

"Crawling already and into everything," added Michal.

Ziva reached out tentatively towards the baby, and caressed her cheek. She was rewarded with a gummy smile and could not help but smile back.

"Shoshana grows more beautiful every time I see her," said Ziva.

"Just like the lily she is named for," said Shimon with a proprietary look at the infant.

The three of them looked up as Sarai clapped her hands in the doorway and announced, "Come, it is time to light the candles."

Over the meal they talked of many things, recent news, Sarai's work as a teacher in the local nursery school, Michal's brother who was currently serving in the military near Gaza. Finally the talk turned to family and Michal broached the subject they had all been avoiding.

"I am sorry about Ari. I know you were close to him, considered him your brother."

"He was my brother," she said, anger tinging her voice.

"Half brother," corrected Shimon, "With that Palestinian woman for his mother."

Ziva bit her lip to keep from replying, there were things they did not know and she could not tell them. Even if she could, she would not ruin their Shabbat by bringing them up.

"What's this I hear about you going back to America," said Sarai in an attempt to ease the tension. "Eli, at a time like this you need to keep her here, keep her with family."

"It is alright," said Ziva, "I want to go."

"She has a job to do," replied her father dispassionately. "Ari's death has created an opening for her, by using it can we bring something good out of his life."

And did you plan this all along, father? Thought Ziva as she shot him a look of loathing. Realizing that the situation was about to disintegrate, Levi caught Ziva's eye and nodded towards the hall.

"Ziva, come with me a moment. I have something to show you," he said.

Ziva ignored him at first, too busy stoking the flames of her anger against her father to pay him much heed. He laid his hand on her shoulder as a sort of restraint.

"Come," he repeated.

And with a shake of her head she did. He led her to the hallway and opened the closet door. She gave him a questioning look.

"What do you see?" he asked.

"A closet, Levi. What do you expect me to see," she demanded impatiently.

"But what is in it?"

"What? Coats, shoes, umbrellas ... Oh!" she stopped her recital as she realized what he was showing her. "The gas masks." Everyone had them, they were so common she had not noticed them at first.

"Yes, the masks. If you opened a closet in America would you ever see those, just hanging there among the raincoats?"

Ziva turned back to him and shook her head.

"They are why your father does what he does, why we all do what we do. I do not want my daughter to ever wear one of those. So we who can fight do so, in the hopes that those who can't will never need to ... and we use whatever methods are necessary."

"But sometimes I feel I am losing my honor, losing myself. There must be other ways. I met this man, this agent Gibbs, and he is different ..." she trailed off as Levi took her by the shoulders.

"Yes, he is different. He does not have a gas mask hanging in his front closet."

Ziva looked at him for a long moment, then took a deep breath and nodded.