Thursday, December 22, 2022

"Musala" - short story

Mt. Musala is the highest mountain not only in Bulgaria but in the entire Balkan Peninsula. At an elevation of 2,925 meters above sea level, its peak is 10 meters higher than Mt. Olympus in Greece. The saying goes that whenever a Greek citizen climbs to the top of Olympus, they bring with them a stone. Enough stones and one day, Olympus would rise higher than Musala. Bulgarians would not be pleased if this happened.

“Hurry up! We’ll make it up there in no time.”

“Let me catch my breath!” I am not a mountain climber and in fact, the only time I get any exercise is by joining an occasional pickup game on the basketball courts. Yet here I am, attempting the ascent to Musala’s peak at the insistence of Angel, my companion on the summer hike. Angel, with a hard ‘g’ like angle, only spelled differently. Angel, my host on a whirlwind one-week visit to Bulgaria.

“You must climb Musala if you want to really know Bulgaria,” he told me when we set off on the two-hour drive south from Sofia to the mountain.

“I thought we were going to the Rila Lakes,” I replied, remembering reading about the seven glacial lakes.

“Too many people there on the weekends. I knew you would prefer something more challenging. Mount Musala.”

Read the rest of the story on Ariel Chart.

Friday, December 9, 2022

"Mrs. Levinsky’s Old Fiat" - short story

I can’t remember when I last saw Mrs. Levinsky. She lives across the hall from me and I pass by her door every morning on my way to work, and again when I return home in the evenings, but I never see her. Not even on weekends.

I have occasionally wondered whether Mrs. Levinsky still lives in that apartment. Maybe she passed away in her sleep. After all, she is quite elderly. Perhaps she suffered a fatal fall? No, she is definitely alive. When I walk in the hall, I hear the sound of a chair scraping across the floor. A kettle coming to a boil. A radio news broadcast. She’s alive, and she’s inside. But her door never opens.

I distinctly remember seeing her the day I moved into my third-floor apartment on Matta Street. That was four years ago. I had just moved to Tel Aviv from the kibbutz where I grew up. Finding available apartments in Tel Aviv is nearly impossible, but I got lucky. My good friend Shira was moving to a new place and I took over her rental contract.

“Who are you?”

I stopped for breath after struggling up the steep stairs, dragging two heavy suitcases filled with all the clothes I owned. I smiled at the frail, slightly stooped, gray-haired woman with large round glasses. Mrs. Levinsky. She took a step back and clutched her apartment door.

“Rami Harel. I’m moving into Shira’s place.”

“Shira? Who is that?”

“Shira used to live here. She’s getting married.”

“Who are you?” my neighbor asked again, as if I hadn’t previously introduced myself.

I nodded at her and went into my new home.

Read the rest of the story on Verdad Magazine.

Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash

Monday, December 5, 2022

"The Last Tweet" - short story

He was a middle-aged businessman from London; she introduced herself as a hospital nurse who lived in Nairobi. They met by chance, in a virtual way, because they were both enthralled by the fiction of Haruki Murakami. It wasn't clear if he followed her first, or if she was the one to initiate the conversation, but soon they were chatting regularly, in 280 characters or less.

And then their tweets went private, becoming direct message exchanges that were far more personal and far more intimate than what was permissible in an open Twitter feed. He told her of his marital frustrations and she said she was a single mother, working long shifts to make ends meet. Then, on a drunken impulse, he revealed that he had never had sex with a black woman. This was something about which he often fantasized. She tweeted back that she had never slept with a white man. She admitted that thoughts of this type of relationship turned her on.

Read the rest of the story on The Chamber Magazine.