It was pitch black as the bus lazily swerved around the corner. My heart raced and I began to internalize the purpose of our trip. We drove up winding roads what seemed like an eternity until we reached a high point in the mountains. The bus stopped and we stepped out one by one, making sure we each had our weapons on us. The heavy and bulky Uzi hurt my shoulder. I had tried switching sides but that didn’t help ease the pain in my lower back. We had been carrying a weapon for a few days and we were finally going to shoot it for real. We practiced shooting with blanks, disassembling it, cleaning it, oiling it, naming it and putting it back together. Uzi was to be our closest companion for the next three weeks of boot camp.
She called us in to the barracks, yelling for us to stay in form. One by one, we filed in keeping our heads down to keep our eyes from meeting her evil. I had befriended two nice girls similar to me, yet different. “Dona, come this way”, Yael whispered, pointing me towards the end of the barracks. We had decided to be last in order to avoid any mistakes. That Dona is such a dreamer, Yael thought. That’s what it’s like when you’re guided through life. She is so lucky; I wish I grew up in a mansion like her. I wish I didn’t have to work a day in my life. Yael had mimicked me several times for not paying attention in the courses. I had been sent out to wash my face earlier that day on account of falling asleep during weaponry class. Yael's thoughts were interrupted by my squeal. Dana pinched my butt and I jumped up. “Shhhh”, Dana said, “you don’t want to be yelled at again do you?” She loved teasing me since it was so easy to get me going. I will show that spoiled girl what it’s like to be an Israeli. Furthermore, an Israeli soldier, Dana thought. We lived in neighboring towns though mine was more upscale. She was constantly competing with me, trying to prove she was wealthier and cooler than me.
“Stand in a line horizontally and make sure not to fall into the fields”, our commander snarled at us. I sifted through the group of girls and found a comfortable place to stand. I looked up to see 30 white targets nailed on wooden poles, one for each soldier. I could barely make out the number of circles on the paper. Yael stuck to my side on the right and Dana on the left. We trembled simultaneously while holding hands. “Lift your weapons, get down on one knee, put your elbows on the floor and lay flat”. The commands kept coming at us like knives thrown by a Japanese Iron Chef. Dana looked at me is if to check I understood the Hebrew. She stroked my back to reassure me it would be over soon. We lay on the floor waiting to fire our guns. I thought of all the bad scenarios that could come true. We had been told horror stories every day leading up to this day. These regulations were written with our comrade’s blood. The anticipation was high and we all prayed it would go smoothly.
“FIRE FIRE FIRE!!!!” My ears were ringing from the thirty loud semi-automatic 9 millimeter machine-guns going off at once. The bullets whistled by me. I fired three bullets in the direction of the target but could care less if they hit it. “Hold your fire!” I was near tears, my ears burning even with the thick earplugs protecting them. I couldn’t see further then the person next to me. “Don’t move”! The commanders came by and verified our weapons were off. They checked that the barrels were clean and the stocks empty.
We were instructed to stand up and file into a line again to exit the barracks. I obeyed the commands like a robot, my body still too sore to control its movement. “I bet you never thought you would be doing this” Dana teased and smirked. She made a point of reminding me where I came from as if to put me in my place. She will never be one of us, she thought. Dana's super-Israeli look and personality were intimidating while Yael was more gentle and soft-spoken. Dana stuck her chest out, stood tall and marched out of the barracks into the field. I tried to recollect what I had just been a part of. I stood and stared at the targets being held up by the commanders, trying to guess which was mine. I knew I didn’t even get close since I fired mostly with my eyes closed, too scared to look at the fiery sparks coming out of my gun. Yael took my elbow and dragged me towards the meeting point. “Come eat” she said, “even though I’m sure you don’t have an appetite”. We walked towards the group of girls opening pre-made cheese sandwiches and cans of coke. I proceeded to pick one up and unwrap it. I guess I might as well eat since this will be the most food I’ll be getting today. Taking a bite of my sandwich I reminisced about my previous life of innocence and ignorance, trying to put the dramatic momentous experience behind me.