I got two of my stories published recently: one is this, about the recent war in Israel. It was published by On The Premises.
It even got an honorable mention. Whatever. I’m overjoyed!
The other story will come out in the next issue of MayDay.
(These are my first fiction stories in print. I’ve published many non-fiction stories in all kinds of magazines.) Fiction is more difficult to get printed. There are many competitors. Anyway, it’s a great hobby.
Here is the beginning of the story:
Interview With Myself During the War
by Jacqueline Schaalje
How did you react when the sirens went off?
Oh, quite cockily. I quickly saved the website designs I’d been working on and, suppressing a wide smile, I flew out my front door and hurled myself one floor down. Finally—some action!
At the bottom of the stairwell I found the usual suspects.
The right-hand neighbor wasn’t home, which was just as well. Hysterical woman dominating everyone’s moods. But her daughter was hard to look at too. Her pink blurry eyes pulled her cheeks down; her forehead was prematurely lined as if an imaginary headscarf was bothering her. Her dad sat clutching the burbling little one in his lap. He urged her to sit down on the step, but she preferred to lean her back to the wall.
The other neighbor’s son was playing a video game. No one said hi Liza. So I just kind of quietly joined them.
The siren wasn’t loud enough to obliterate the opera music.
“Is that beautiful music coming from you?” asked the neighbor.
“It’s just a game,” answered the boy, who didn’t look up from his black console. As his fingertips tickled and prodded, a hooded monk kept smashing his mace into a Godzilla-type-monster. The opera sounded too sweet, not Wagnerian enough, but the Godzilla made perfect sense to me at this time when our country dumped down fireballs in Gaza, squelching the black-and-green men, and, regrettably, large numbers of innocent women and children with it.
In other words, the only thing missing was the monk. But perhaps that was stretching the analogy a bit.
As the siren was dying down, I lifted my legs like a stork’s—over their heads—to step back to my flat.
The boy looked up, smiling.
It might have been too early; I was back in a second. Cracks and blasts exploded in the vast expanse above our building, which suddenly seemed so small, yet was the eye of the attack. It sounded somehow more benign than winter thunder, probably because it came without the theatrical lighting. The Chihuahuas, tied to the kitchen stools, went out of their minds. The window in the front door was rattling. Wow, we went. The neighbors uttered intuitive (yet very incisive). pronouncements as to how nearby the rocket had detonated: very very near.
After a few days of this, did you still wax lyrical?
The second time already wasn’t fun anymore. I had eaten half of my dessert when the alarm sounded again. We gathered in the same dugout. I held my phone in my hand. My neighbor, like a boxer, wore a towel round his bare shoulders. The hysterical daughter of his hysterical wife’s cheek was smeared with jam. The overriding air was embarrassment. I didn’t know what to do with the phone, so I feigned the utmost urgency, and because it was protesting as it was just a simple Galaxy 1, I switched it on and off. I tried opening an attachment in my Google email, but it crashed. I blamed the rockets for this, but I knew it wasn’t the fault of the rockets.
“I haven’t shaved for a few days,” apologized the neighbor. He stroked the crotchet work on his chin wistfully as if it were Aladdin’s lamp. “But one’s got to have a bath.”
“Why didn’t you shave?” asked the keen neighbor’s son. He hadn’t brought his Game Boy, so he just sat there. His parents weren’t anywhere in sight.