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March 21, 2021 by The Citron Review

by Jennifer Lang


Gee, what a nice surprise! my 83-year-old father says when he sees me and asks when I arrived as we dine al fresco in Jerusalem a few hours before our middle-of-the-night bus departs for Eilat, the southern tip of Israel, to cross the border to Aqaba, Jordan, and I tell him—not for the first time—I arrived earlier that afternoon from my house near Tel Aviv because we’re going on an adventure together and his cocoa-colored eyes widen when he asks where, and I tell him—not for the first time—Petra, and we pause to peer at our plates when he looks at me and says Gee, what a nice surprise! asking when I arrived, and I steel myself for the next 36 hours, aware and awed that my father’s basketball-ski-tennis pastimes will have paid off, enabling him to trek through Wadi Rum desert, sleep on an unforgiving bed in a Bedouin camp, and walk a mile in relentless heat through one of the seven new wonders in the world replete with rock-cut architecture and Indiana Jones-eque tombs and temples, ending in a rutted horse-and-buggy ride where we squish next to the driver and bounce—baboom, baboom, baboom—our butts flying a half-an-inch in the sultry air and, for a moment, I worry for my father’s back, forgetting that this man who raised me with a passion for travel can no longer recall the day he was born or the names of his nine grandchildren, when he says, Jennifer, have I ever told you I’ve always wanted to do this with you? and our laughter ricochets through the breathtaking gorge, and I squeeze my eyes and clasp a random rod on the roof with all my might. 


Jennifer Lang’s shorts have appeared in Atticus Review, CHEAP POP, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. “Repeat the Enchanting” won first place in Midway Journal’s flash contest. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and serves as Assistant Editor for Brevity. Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, she lives in Tel Aviv, where she runs Israel Writers Studio and hunts for a special press for her first memoir.


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