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Elina and Daniela
Elina and Daniela were strutting through the park talking about their day at school. They were both eleven years old. They were best friends and neighbors. The girls had stopped briefly to pick up Daniela’s dog, Milky. Still dressed in their school uniforms, the girls were discussing how Jimmy acted up in class that day. Jimmy was from America and he seemed to face a difficult life at home. His American mother married an Israeli man and she moved him to Israeli with them. Adjustment was challenging, especially with the religious conflict going on around him. In class he had yelled at the history teacher, calling him an idiot who enforced too many pointless rules.
Milky suddenly pulled hard on his leash dragging Daniela through the shrubbery towards a stray cat. While she waited for Daniela to come back, Elina saw a small round button like object on the ground. It sparkled in the sunshine. She absentmindedly bent down to pick it up. Despite the warnings her mother gave her to not take any foreign objects off the ground, she wasn’t thinking about her mother’s warnings, merely going on instinct. As she bent down to see what was shining underneath the tips of the grass, her fingers activated the button’s sensor
She heard a small ticking noise that was almost inaudible. She quickly realized what she had picked up, and fear overtook her mind. She dropped the bomb, and started to run away as fast as she could. It was too late. Elina screamed, but she was abruptly cut off as the flames engulfed her.
From behind the trees, the abrupt noise startled Daniela. She felt her body go cold. The hairs on the back of her neck were pricking up. She peeked out from behind the bushes, and saw the smoke rising, and the last bits of flame burning. Hysteric, she dropped the leash and watched Milky race off through the bushes. While her gut reaction told her to find Elina, she was too scared to run towards the smoke so she turned and headed after her beloved dog.
She raced after the dog, running past several gates, a garden, a park, and a temple. After that, she lost track of what she had passed. She had run through numerous neighborhoods, before she finally caught up with Milky. She had a vague idea of where she was. She could tell from the shop signs and homes, she was in a different part of Jerusalem. She realized she was in a Palestinian neighborhood. Daniela had a decision to make. She could either cower in fear, and wait for who knows how long in the searing heat, for someone she thought was trustworthy to come along and help her, or she could be brave, take a plunge, and ask someone for help.
She noticed some children playing in the yard of a home, and it was very nice and tidy compared to the other huts around it, so she decided that was the house she would ask for help at. Sluggish from her long chase after Milky, Daniela and her dog walked over to the home. Daniela knocked on the flimsy door and waited. Tired was an understatement. She was close to overheating. Sweat beaded on her forehead, and she had a headache. She could see the heat radiating off the pavement, and she needed a drink. Her head was pounding, and she felt like she might faint. She was in a stupor.
A woman, in her early sixties perhaps answered the door after what seemed like an eternity. She had a scarf around her head, but her long black hair could be seen through the thin fabric. She was surprised to see an Israeli girl at her front door. She was going to shut the door in the girls face because she was Israeli, but her conscience took over. She could never leave a helpless child outside in the unbearable heat.
“Come in, come in,” said the woman said gingerly. “What happened to you?”
Daniela, tried to hold back her tears, and choked. Tears streamed freely down her face. She tried to explain what had happened, but she couldn’t form the words in her mouth.
On the outside, the house was a stucco shack. Inside, it was filled with vibrant colored rugs. There was waltzing music on, and an area near the small radio was cleared off. The woman was practicing, learning to waltz.
She brought Daniela water and bread. Once a mother, she knew exactly what Daniela needed. She set her in her lap and hummed along to the music. Soon enough, Daniela had cooled off and somewhat recharged. She was ready to tell the woman what had happened.
“What is your name?” asked the woman.
“Daniela,” she replied. “And yours?”
“You can call me Nadia.”
“Hi, Nadia.” Said Daniela.
“I’m trying to learn to dance the Waltz, it isn’t going too well though.” She said.
“I take dance lessons too, I am learning ballet.” Daniela said.
The woman cut to the point, and asked what she was really wondering.
“What brought you here?” asked Nadia.
“My dog, Milky, was startled by a loud noise and ran off, and I chased him, and ended up here.” Explained Daniela.
“My husband will be home any minute, and we will take his car and drive you back to the checkpoint.”
Minutes later, Nadia’s husband arrived, and the 3 of them, and Milky, got into the car and drove to the checkpoint.
Once at the checkpoint, it was time to say goodbye. Daniela thanked them, and now that she knew where she was, began her walk home, holding tight on Milky’s leash.
When Daniela got home, there was a note on the table.
We had to go to the hospital, Mother’s water broke, please go to Elina’s until we get home.
This note was obviously written before they knew what happened to Elina, when they thought she was just taking Milky for a walk in the park.
Daniela went over to Elina’s house. While she walked next door, she realized what had happened to her that afternoon. Her best friend was most likely dead, and instead of helping her, she chased after her dog. She felt terrible.
When she arrived at Elina’s parent’s house, there was an ambulance parked in front. A very official looking man stood at their front porch. He was talking to Elina’s mom. Tears were streaming down her face. The man was trying to console her, but it wasn’t doing much good. He said goodbye, and left. Elina’s mom shut the door.
Daniela hesitated, but then she went to their door and knocked, even though she knew it was a time Elina’s parents needed to themselves.Once inside, after she had been seated in the living room, it was obvious they had been crying. They sat in an awkward silence, which Daniela decided to break.
“I’m sorry for disturbing you, my parents went to the hospital. I think my mothers’ water broke.
“Oh, how exciting,” they replied, half-heartedly.
Again, silence fell.
“Is there anything I can get you?” Daniela inquired.
“Can you get our daughter back? That is all we want. Those Palestinians just want to ruin our life! They are all the same. I hate them all.” Elina’s mother said. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to get excited,” she added.
Daniela decided she would share her experience from that afternoon.
“Well-,” Daniela Began. “Not ALL Palestinians are sadists…”
“Oh really? How could you know? You are a small child. You have no previous experience!” Daniela knew they were not trying to be rude, they were obviously very upset.
Daniela began. “Today, I was a cowered. Instead of helping Elina, I ran after Milky, who ran away because of the noise the bomb made. I wish I could have shown some valor, instead of being so afraid. I feel horrible.” Daniela continued to recount her story. “By the time I caught up with Milky, I had run a long ways, and I was in a Palestinian neighborhood. It was very hot, and I hadn’t had anything to drink for a while, and I was feeling faint. I decided to know on a door; I knew I needed to get out of the heat, and get home. I chose a house and knocked on the door. A woman came to the door, and gave Milky and I water and a snack. I told her I didn’t know how to get back home. When her husband got home, they drove me to the checkpoint. From there, I walked, it was not very far.” Daniela paused.
“Why are you telling us this?” Elina’s parents inquired.
“Those people helped me. They were very kind, and they were Palestinian. Not all Palestinians are bad.”
Elina’s parents understood what she was doing. Although they hadn’t forgiven the people who had set the bomb in the park, they came to an understanding. Nobody should ever let one experience define an entire group of people, a race, ethnicity, or a religion.
A few hours later, Daniela got a call from her parents. Her father would be over soon to pick her up so she can meet her new sister.
It was a bittersweet day. Daniela lost her best friend. But got a new sister, and helped two people realize their prejudice was unjust, which is something not many people can say they have done.
At eleven years old, Daniela had already proved something some people may never do in a lifetime.