Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 36 of a new online serial novel, Beneath the Surface, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.
The mirror back on the kibbutz reflected exactly the image that Diana wanted to see: a refined-looking girl, with her hair gathered in a yellow rubber band, wearing a flowing skirt that almost reached the floor. Her thick socks weren’t visible in any case, but she didn’t want to skip even a single detail in her appearance. This was excellent.
She straightened up, smiled at her reflection, and walked out to the gray gravel path, pulling the wooden door closed behind her with her good hand. Her regular clothes were buried deep inside her suitcase in the room. She had an hour until she would have to go out to the highway to catch the bus to Haifa, and decided to spend it at the cowshed. She hadn’t been there since yesterday morning. She had been minimizing her work hours since she had come back from her two-day vacation with her hand in a cast.
“She’s living here on our account,” Arnon fumed at one of the small kibbutz meetings, “and she hardly shows up at the cowshed. Who needed this whole thing in the first place?”
“Don’t exaggerate. It’s still pretty worthwhile for us,” one of the senior kibbutz officials said, taking a handful of peanuts from the dish in the middle of the table. Arnon nodded. Yes, sure it was worthwhile, taking into account the volunteer situation today.
Now Diana walked toward the paved path between the metal fences that cordoned off the cows. She held her skirt carefully, ensuring that the hem didn’t touch the floor, which was covered with trash. She was amused at the way she was walking; it reminded her of a play she had participated in as an eleven-year-old schoolgirl. She had played the role of the queen. Then, too, she had worn a long dress and had taken care with every step not to trip.
“Hey, what happened?” She reached the milking building just as Noga, Arnon’s wife, was walking out. Noga looked at Diana almost threateningly. “What’s with the costume?”
“Excuse me?” Diana raised a conciliatory eyebrow. “I did think that I had the right to dress as I please. I don’t think it’s within your domain. Please take care of things that are relevant to you, such as Golda, your mother-in-law, who’s been in bed with the flu for two days. Have you visited her?” And without waiting for a response, Diana continued walking to the milking machine. She made the rounds of the cows for a few minutes, and then hurried to the Haifa-bound bus. Noga’s constant supervision was beginning to irk her deeply. Keep Reading…