À La Carte: Birth Wrong

[creative nonfiction]

When I get to the top of Masada there are the canyons and there are the fortress ruins and there is the desert that stereotypically stretches out like a blanket location designed to set the scene for biblical abyss. There is this moment we are forced to be in together, all of us fresh off the bus, this specific moment of sunrise that brings up the warm blue undertones in the otherwise blanched Mesa. There is the appointed Zionist tour guide in his lime-green polo tee who is preparing to spiel us young American Heebs on mass suicide, but only after we’ve been forever turned by the predictable magic of the sunrise. There are the dunes that roll on and on so that we nomadically remember the moguls of infinity. There is my water bottle that I am drinking because they made me wake up early to hike this hill and they are always telling us bring water like no one knows it on their own. They have made it very clear that they do not want to be responsible for our dehydration. On my back is a pack and in it there is a Ziploc filled with dates and pistachios I got at the marketplace. The pistachios, the dates, they are oh-so-valuable now, because we have traveled halfway around the world so our lost tribe can connect, and this life changing experience comes with the expectation that we are all going to survive off of gas station falafels. We are expected to fall in love with another tribe member at the gas station as we are stuffing our faces with these gas station falafels. We are expected to settle in Kibbutzim and get married after we fall in love with whoever is also eating falafel at the gas station. After the ceremony, we’ll be expected to hold hands and wear ergonomic clogs. We are expected to fuck our chosen one up against the soft bark of an olive tree that was seeded by US dollars that a person in the ’70s mailed overseas in honor of when someone’s dad turned thirteen and finally “became a man.” They are conditioning us to fuck our chosen one up against that smooth bark, the she bent over against the trunks while the he tries not to break an olive branch during the cumming. There in the orchard, they hope, we will fuck to make new babies for the army. Now there is the sunlight changing the scene into a variety of pinks and the sound is that of Adam’s stomach gurgling because he is gluten-free and couldn’t eat the breakfast back at the fake Bedouin tent where they made us sleep in bags last night so that we could bond like only sleeping Jews in a tent can bond. The Bedouins only eat bagels for breakfast, so I give Adam my pistachios. And now there is the sun as it hits the spot where it will loiter for most of the day’s middle, the place where it has traditionally loitered for most days over the course of all time, the same spot it was in for like, Moses, who at some point saw the sun from just where we are now. The sun is where it has been since the ancient inhabitants of this place, AKA our ancestors, slaughtered and burned themselves after they’d thrown their babies off of the cliffs. All the important Jews whose parents brought them to the Motherland have probably been here, like Gene Simmons probably saw the sun from here and Philip Roth and Joan Rivers and Barbara Streisand, but definitely not Anne Frank, who is basically to blame for Birthright existing in the first place. The sun is executing its more traditional sandy yellows as Adam is popping open the halves of the shells, because g-d is he hungry and he can’t get over the Bedouins only having bagels available despite the dietary restrictions he checked on his admissions form, and all Jews are basically gluten-intolerant so what the fuck has been up with the doughy breakfasts. We share our ancestors. We share our indigestion. Over there in the near distance is the curved plane of a familiar hunched back. The font on the back says NIRVANA in red, and the back sits up cross-legged in the crumbs of the fortress ruins, so his front looks out over the peak that rises above the vast ellipse of sandy earth that drawls into the Dead Sea clay of secular history; his front presides over the ledge that the babies were thrown off of so that their parents could kill them first, or at least before anyone else got the chance. When I get to the top of Masada, there is my ex-boyfriend and he is still playing Candy Crush.


Leah Sophia Dworkin lives in New York City. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She has writings published or forthcoming in (b)OINK, KGB Bar Lit, Columbia Journal, Yalobusha Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Hotel, and BOMBOnline she goes by @frumperella. Learn more at leahsophiadworkin.com.