Author's note... hey guys, this is my new story. I hope you enjoy it. I just have to say a few things before we can get on with it. First off, this is obviously a very political story. I'm going to try to get out all the political explanation in the first few chapters, or scenes as I'll call them, so it's not too much like a textbook and has some plot. Also, a bit of a disclaimer here: all views expressed by the characters is simply that--views of the characters. This is not me talking about my opinions. Don't try to argue with me about politics in the reviews or by sending me a pm, because you'll be ignored. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. :)


Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage—
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

- Prologue, Act I, Romeo & Juliet, by William Shakespeare


September 17th, 2008

Dear diary,

I'm so happy auntie gave you to me today, for my seventeenth birthday. I've always loved to read but have never been given the opportunity to write. I hope to write in your pages often to document my life here, much like Anne Frank did in the annex. That's a very ironic comparison, but an accurate one nonetheless. See, diary, my life is a bit difficult, because I live in the Gaza strip. Gaza is under the control of the Islamic militant movement Hamas, who is anti-Israel and supports an Islamic free state.

Diary, I'm not a terrorist. I wish the bombings, so close to my home, would stop. Last month, my little brother, Jordan, was killed when Israelis bombed his school. He was only seven. I do not agree with Hamas' violent tactics, but I am a firm supporter of Palestine and the creation of an Islamic state. It's my home; I have to defend it. Also, because of the bombings, most of Gaza has very little safe drinking water and many people live without electricity, including my own family. Israel is no better. They insist on trapping us inside--Gaza is a small territory, and in my seventeen years I've never left.

My parents are very patriotic and very anti-Israel, even more than I am. Father is an editor for Gaza's newspaper, Felesteen. It's because of him that I'm always finding out bits of information from around the world. Things like that fascinate me--I love hearing about different countries and their histories. Mother stays at home. She used to look after me and Jordan, but now she just sits in the kitchen and doesn't say a word. She's heartbroken, and misses her son. I miss him too. I suppose losing a child is the worst thing that could happen to someone. I can't imagine it ever happening to me. I hope it never does.

Anyway, diary, I should tuck in for tonight. Tomorrow I'm going to go out and visit my uncle. I'm nervous about the journey, even though it isn't very far. My auntie and uncle live on the edge of the territory—you can see the guards in the distance from their house! It makes me very uneasy traveling these days, and it makes me even uneasier seeing people with guns, trying to trap me. I don't like the way things have gotten.

Much love,
Fatima

September 17th 2008

Dear diary,

Is that what I'm supposed to call you? A diary? It sounds kind of girly to me. I guess I'll refer to you as a journal. Dear journal. Yeah, that sounds better…

My dad brought you, this little leather book, home to me this evening. He's a guard on the Gaza border. Our house is in the city of Ashqelon. It's not too far from Gaza, and last May a few of Hamas' rockets hit the city, wounding many. That was the first time one of Hamas' rockets had reached Ashqelon.

Most of the time, I live in Jerusalem with my cousin, Gil. That's where I go to school. My parents think it's too risky for me to live in Ashqelon, but they won't move themselves. It's because this war is hurting our economy, and Dad has a good job. I don't mind; I boy has got to have his freedom. Gil is 25, and has finished his duty in the service. He has his own place, where I stay with him and help him pay the rent, so we don't have any parents to tell us what to do.

Rosh Hashanah is coming up and so I'm at home for the holidays. Things are pretty crazy around the house during this time of year. Mama cleans everything until it's spotless and during the week before she's always cooking. Every year on Rosh Hashanah we invite the Rabbi and his family over for a dinner of lamb and salad with the traditional apples and honey for desert. Delicious. Rabbi Weinstein's daughter, Yael, is pretty damn hot too, so I don't mind one bit. Rosh Hashanah is our new year, and we're welcoming in the year 5769. It's a big deal. I'm eating a tasteful dinner with my parents and Rabbi Weinstein's family shortly after sundown and then heading off to party at Gil's. Synagogue isn't until the next morning, and then we have to be serious. But until then, we celebrate.

I'm kind of a big partier. It's one of my many flaws. I like to dance and drink and have a good time. I figure, with the conflict going on between my country and Palestine, and my duty to serve in the Israeli army beginning in January, it's best to live while we have life. Living in this area, it's hard to keep oneself youthful and free when everything around you is forcing you to mature quicker than you should. The conflict is sucking our lives away. Palestine's goal to create an Islamic free state in place of Israel is ridiculous. The Jews were given this land in 1948 as a Jewish state after the Holocaust. The two-state solution, in which an Israeli state and a Palestinian state can coexist side by side, is the only way this war can end, but it's not so easy. I strongly support Israel's decision to block off the transport of supplies into Palestine and Gaza and forcing them to stop bombing us. I hate that we have to do this, but it's the only way we can achieve shalom, or peace.

Anyway, journal, I can hear Mama calling me to help clean the house. She's scrubbed it until it shines, what more is there to clean? I'll write later.

Sincerely,
Gabriel