He was alone in the churning surf. A ship stacked with multi-coloured containers drifted on the horizon further out in the Mediterranean. He caught a wave and cruised on it as far as it would take him before being dumped off the board into the water. This was his freedom, his place to submerge and forget.
He trudged out of the sea toward the beach and noticed a woman walking along the damp sand toward him. As they neared each other he felt his smile falter as he recognised her. His expression turned as ominous as the skies above them.
‘How are you?’ Eva asked. Her look was cautious. The wind whipped a strand free from her ponytail and she tucked it behind her ear.
Yair planted the surfboard in the sand with a thud. ‘How did you find me?’
‘I went to Tel Aviv first. Your father said to try the Haifa coast.’
He put a hand through his damp hair and breathed out a deep sigh. ‘Why are you here?’
She frowned at him. ‘I need your help.’
Yair shook his head and wiped away drops of sea water that clung to his face. ‘I can’t help you. I’m not Mossad anymore.’
‘You can never quit,’ Eva said quietly.
‘Oh, yeah?’ he grinned ironically. ‘I did, and so should you.’ He picked up his board and headed up the beach.
‘I’m calling it in.’ Her voice carried over the wind.
His back was to her when he stopped. His shoulders sagged in defeat. ‘My debt to you,’ he said softly as a gust grabbed the words from his mouth. He turned and looked her in the eye. ‘I was hoping I’d never see you again.’
Did I mean that?, he wondered as he continued up the beach and crossed the road to his house, a small, worn grey, sandstone with bars on all the windows. He sensed Eva behind him as he unzipped his wetsuit and took the house key from around his neck. He unlocked the front door and paused, wondering whether to tell her to go away. Instead he opened the door and stood back to let her in.
She glanced at him then stepped into the gloomy interior.
Yair moved past her. ‘I need to get changed.’ He motioned her into the living room then headed to the back of the house.
After changing into dry clothes, he went into the kitchen and made coffee to buy himself some time before having to face her. The smell of freshly brewing coffee drifted through the house. He went into the living room and sat down across from Eva. ‘What?’
She took a deep breath and hesitated, looking unsure of how to start.
He leaned toward her and clasped his hands together. He tilted his head. ‘What do you need from me?’
‘I’ve been tasked with studying surveillance photos from CIA recon drones. There is a camp in northern Africa with escalated training activity. There is a western man I keep seeing in the photos…’ She knelt in front of him and reached for his hand. ‘It’s David, Yair. David is alive.’
The only sound in the house was the steam from the coffee machine escaping under pressure. He remembered the day David had died.
Yair was lying on his stomach next to David on a hilltop. He kept watch through his sniper scope at the encampment below. ‘I could do with a coffee right now.’ His voice was rough from lack of sleep and water. The sun was making its way up into the sky, burning a trail of mist and chill from the air.
‘Fresh brewed, extra strong,’ David replied. He was on camera duty, the long telephoto lens ready for action when the camp below woke.
‘Eva thinks today is the day. She has a feeling,’ Yair said.
David’s heavy gaze turned his way. Their eyes met and Yair quickly returned to looking through the scope.
‘Eva shares too much of her feelings,’ David said.
Yair left the comment hanging in the air. The first rays of the sun climbed over the hill behind them and cast a yellow hue on the earth. An early heat haze shimmered in the distance.
They watched in silence as the camp started to wake. Men surfaced from their tents, stiff and stretching. Guard duty changed over. They observed men loading heavy looking wooden crates into a truck. A man appeared from the largest tent and called over to two men to follow him to the truck before it left.
‘This is it, David.’ Yair checked the scope on his rifle. ‘Are you getting it?’
He heard the click of the safety being taken off a gun. David grabbed Yair’s sniper rifle away from him with one hand, the other pointing the Glock at Yair’s face.
‘Wha…’ Yair rolled onto his back, arms bent defensively in front of him, looking up at David.
‘Time’s up, Mossad. You took your eye off the ball while you fucked my wife. Neither of you were paying attention to the truth in front of your face.’
There was a whistle from the camp and David raised the rifle in acknowledgement. ‘Gotta go. I’m sick of sitting on my hands waiting for the CIA to make a decision. Do you know how much these boys pay their contracted-in military advisers?’ David raised his eyebrows. ‘A lot.’
All Yair could see was the barrel of the gun. This would be the last thing he saw, perfectly rounded iron with a metal jacket bullet about to slam into his forehead. His stomach clenched as he tensed, waiting.
He heard the muted sound of gunshot as David jerked and stumbled down the hillside. Yair scrambled to his knees and reached for his sidearm at the same time. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Eva rush for the brow of the hill, gun with silencer attached, in hand.
Yair shook his head as adrenaline surged around his body. His chest constricted as he fought to breathe.
Eva dropped to the ground beside him and looked out at the camp. ‘They’re coming. We need to go. Now.’ She tugged at his arm and started back down the hill.
At the bottom of the hill Yair grabbed her arm and turned her toward him. They held each other’s gaze. Tears were streaming down her face and her expression was clouded. ‘I heard it all on the comms as I was coming up the hill. Langley suspected he might be turning.’
‘I couldn’t say anything to you. You’re Mossad. This is a CIA problem.’ She turned away from him.
‘You knew this was coming and you let me walk into it?’ Yair stepped in front of her so she would have to look at him.
‘We need to get back to camp.’
‘But us, Eva? What does this say about us?’
She kept moving toward the jeep. ‘I had your back. One day you’ll have mine. There’s no time for this now.’
‘Are you sure it’s him?’
‘We never had confirmation he was dead. I know his face.’
Yair kept hold of her hand and looked out the window. The swell kicked up white frothy waves against the dark grey sea. He closed his eyes, ‘You didn’t trust me enough then…’
‘It’s what we have to do now that matters. We have to go back and end it.’
‘It’s not our fight anymore.’
‘I listen to the satellite audio feed they pick up from the camps. He knows I’m still out there tracking him. He sings the line from Evita, Eva Beware of the City. It’s a warning. He will come for us. CIA won’t even admit he’s alive. You’re the only one who can help me.’
Yair shook his head as an old memory from that time filtered back to him.
She’d been lying on her stomach next to him, their legs entwined, mouths close. There was only a sliver of moon casting light through the tent flap. Her fingers were in his hair. ‘I never want this to end.’
‘Ahuvati,’ he whispered and kissed her mouth.
‘Translate.’ He could hear the smile in her voice.
‘You are my love.’
He studied her face for the first time since she’d appeared on the beach. Her expression was tight and weary. The smile in her voice long gone. He felt himself soften a little toward her. She was scared. She must be to run to him all the way from America. It had been over a year.
He had refused to see her again after the incident with David on the hill. She didn’t object. The fist of betrayal had hit them all. His skin felt icy every time he thought about the triangle of duplicity that ran between the three of them and how Eva had kept secrets about David from him. It was an ugly mess that everyone wanted to bury from the top of the CIA all the way down to Eva and him.
‘You should send someone else in. Don’t go back.’
‘He will come for us, Yair.’ She gripped his hand tighter. ‘You know he wants to settle the score. Comms chatter says they’re getting ready to move. That means David could disappear from Africa and then he could turn up anywhere.’
Ahuvati, he thought as he looked into her worried eyes and he knew what he would do for her, for them.
The waves pounded the rocks outside on the beach. The storm was coming.
2 thoughts on “Ahuvati – Short Story Format”
Really interesting to see this in short story format, Liz, having seen it as a screenplay first. There is a lot more poetry/artistry in this version but then I guess that’s the sort of thing that has to go when you convert it into a script.
I’ve decided to stick with writing short stories because of what you can convey through prose. I did like the script writing but feel a little like you’re only part of a collaboration but without the promise of further collaboration.
Maybe I’ll come back to it. I do like the idea of writing it in prose first then converting that into a script.