Until It's Gone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers


A teenager has problems with his family and friends, but things could have been much worse. Continues in IDOLS.

Submitted: February 21, 2018

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Submitted: February 21, 2018

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I

Tomer Livni shook his fists several times, as though he was holding a pair of dice and hesitated to throw them.

“You're impossible!” he cried out. “Impossible!”

“Ha!” Dr. Raphael Livni spoke with vehemence, pointing an accusatory finger at his son. “I knew it! Oh, I knew it from the day that I begot you!”

“Seriously? Begot?”

“Do not interrupt!” the renowned philologist thundered, his bushy eyebrows wiggling in an unintentionally comical way. “Do not interrupt your father, you pugnacious puppy, you supercilious suckling, you impudent imp!”

“Dad, I've had it!” The younger man's larynx emitted a piercing squawk as he hit the table with his clenched fist. “You never listen. You never care. You want everything to be your way. You're... you're a self-important tyrant! Do you even love me? I doubt it! Can you love anyone besides yourself?”

Dr. Livni's handsome, leonine face turned pale.

“Can I call this churlish offspring 'son'?” he uttered softly, yet with solemn pathos, and immediately answered his own question: “No! I curse my loins, which –”

“– begot me; I know!” Tomer raised his hands in a gesture of exasperation. “Halas, Dad! I can't take it anymore. I can't!”

He stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

 

II

Yael Livni put her plump hand on Tomer's shoulder.

“Come on, Tsutsik.” She spoke with a nasal drawl, using a nickname Tomer had always loathed. “Don't be such a donkey. You should be nice to Dad.”

She ruffled her brother's hair affectionately, which he disliked as well.

“Yaelush, I've tried, I swear,” the youth replied in a quivering voice, turning away. “But you know how he can be, right? He's just so incorrigibly stubborn and controlling... it's like he has a disease or something, you know? All I want is to study cinematography abroad. A reasonable wish for a grown-up person, don't you think? I'm sixteen. Sixteen! But no, he wants me to stay in this God-forsaken city –”

“Tsutsik, don't talk like that about Jerusalem. It's ir ha-kodesh, a holy city...”

“Well, you see – I don't care!” Tomer pressed his fingertips together. “I'm indifferent to all this stuff, and Dad knows that. So why is he forcing me to stay?”

“Because he wants what's best for you.”

“Come on, Yael!” The young man's face turned crimson with frustration. “Why are you repeating such a cliché? We both know that Dad is a manipulative, despotic –”

“Okay, Tomer, that's enough!” There was steel in Yael's voice. “What kind of language is that? It's written, kabed et-avicha. Does honoring your father mean nothing to you? It's like you aren't even Jewish.”

“Oh, and that would be the biggest crime in the world, right?” Tomer spread his arms.

“Obviously not to someone who doesn't give a damn about his roots.” Yael glowered at her brother.

“Roots? A tree gives a damn about its roots. Just because I happened to be born to a Jewish mother and have my bulbul circumcised –”

“Tomer!”

“– I don't see why every decision in my life has to depend on my ethno-religious background. Honestly, Yael, you're being such a nudnik with your holier-than-thou attitude –”

“That's because I, unlike you, respect my family, my traditions, my country!” Yael stomped her foot. “And my father's will still means something to me!”

Sababa.” Tomer stuck out his chin. “Maybe you guys should just forget about me. Maybe I'm not really part of this family.”

Before Yael could answer, he grabbed a baseball cap and walked out of the front door, letting in a gust of delightfully fresh Jerusalem air.

 

III

In a brisk pace, Tomer exited the East Talpiot neighborhood, climbing uphill on the Olei ha-Gardom street towards the Haas Promenade. Pressing down the peak of his cap to protect his eyes from the blazing Jerusalem sun, he sat down on a bench, ignoring the view of the Old City behind him. The golden Dome of the Rock glinted mysteriously, basking in the sleepy haze that enfolded the valley. Two large, gray-bellied hooded crows glided through the serene air, cawing loudly. One of them perched on the branch of a spreading acacia tree just above Tomer.

Dudi Bloedtraum and Avigail Paluli – Tomer's best friend and girlfriend, respectively – emerged from a shiny white Subaru that had just parked near the entrance to the promenade.

“Yo, Tomernator!” Dudi mopped his brow, squinting at the sun. “I gave a lift to your sweetheart. Couldn't stand the thought of her boarding the 78 bus. If you want me to scram, just say so.”

“No, it's okay.” Tomer looked up. “I'm glad you're here. I'm seriously freaking out.”

Avigail sat near her boyfriend, her large green eyes studying him attentively from below her long, thick eyelashes.

“I was in class,” she said in a husky voice and took a cigarette out of her handbag.

Tomer turned to face her.

“I told you I was seriously freaking out,” he said emphatically.

“Yes, I picked up on that when I received your text message saying I'm seriously freaking out.”

“What's with the sarcasm? I didn't say anything.” Tomer cast an angry glance at the crow. The bird tilted its head and cawed.

“You know what?” Avigail threw the unlit cigarette on the ground. “I think you should stop 'seriously freaking out'.” She made air quotes with her well-manicured fingers. “I'm tired of hearing yet another story about how domineering your father is or how you can't stand your sister's lack of an own opinion.”

Tomer stood up.

“I'm sorry my family doesn't meet your high standards,” he said coldly.

“What?” Avigail spread her arms and looked at Dudi. “What chutzpah! I'm skipping school to run over here like a puppy, and this tembel is throwing a temper tantrum, like he has his period or something. Do you have your period, Tomer?” She turned to her boyfriend and then to the crow, as though she was hoping the bird could give her the correct answer.

Tomer started to walk away, but Dudi caught him by the elbow.

“Come on, Tomboy. She doesn't mean it.”

“Why are you defending her?” Tomer said quietly.

Dudi let go of his best friend's elbow and scratched his goatee.

Akhi, let's cool off, okay? You're upset. That's no way to treat a lady.”

Walla.” Tomer chuckled. “What a gentleman. What a knight in shining armor. A regular Lancelot.”

Dudi Bloedtraum's face darkened. He pushed Tomer in the chest with both hands.

“Do you have a problem? Huh?” He waggled his hand right in front of his friend's nose.

“Get away from me, you maniac!” Tomer yelled at the top of his lungs.

Kus emmek.” Dudi spat on the ground, reinforcing the strong Arabic expletive. “I'm out of here. I have no patience with this retard. You coming?” His last words were addressed to Avigail.

“Sure.” She rose and walked towards the car without looking at her boyfriend. They drove off, leaving Tomer alone with the crow.

After a few moments, the crow raised its head and said:

“Rough day, isn't it?”

 

IV

Tomer looked at the crow, then looked around.

“No, no, that was me,” the crow said reassuringly, hopping onto a lower branch. It spoke in a pleasant baritone, enunciating Hebrew words with apparent pleasure. “My, this language feels good. Feels prophetic and all. Though I prefer English, you know, 'cause Ella Fitzgerald sang in it. It don't mean a thing... Doo-wah, doo-wah, doo-wah... Man, this is magic.”

Tomer raised a shaking hand to his eyes.

“I'm hallucinating... I'm sick.” He swallowed hard.

“No, and maybe, but that's not the point.”

“Who... are you?” Tomer glanced to the right. The promenade was unusually still. “And where is everyone?”

“Oh, don't worry about that.” The crow flapped its wings. “A little time-stopping force field... Nothing to brag about. We have all the time in the world. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as they say in Citizen Kane.”

Casablanca,” Tomer corrected mechanically.

“Whatever.” The crow stretched its neck. “Anyhoo, what was your other question?”

“Who are you?” Tomer repeated.

The bird giggled.

“Oh, I see, I see. I'm supposed to say something like, 'I come in peace, earthling, let me teach you our amazing technology in exchange for apple pies and cranberry vodka'. Well, let me spill it out right away: I'm an effortlessly shape-shifting alien – check. I come from the future – check. I –”

“The future? How far into the future?”

“Real far, buddy. They don't even air The Young and the Restless anymore.”

“So, you are an alien,” Tomer said slowly, “you can morph into anything, you come from the future, and... what do you want? Why did you come to 2018? Why did you choose to speak to me?”

“Well, let's delay the answers to these questions till the end of the show, alright?” The crow plucked out a feather with its beak. Tomer noticed that it had a tiny ring on one of its toes. “I'm more interested in your predicament. It seems to me that you've had a bit of disagreement with some folks out there. Am I right or am I right?”

“Worst day of my life.” Tomer sat back on the bench and covered his face. “I feel like I've lost them all. My father, my sister, my girlfriend, and my best friend. All in one day... It just can't get any worse than that.”

“Believe me, it can.” The crow swooped down onto the back of the bench. “Wait till I share some facts from my biography. Or I could just show you a negative alternate universe.”

“A negative... what?”

“Gee, Tomer, haven't you heard about Newton's law of parallel time-space bending?”

“There is no such law.”

“Oh... Then it must've been on Star Trek.” The crow scratched one of its feet with the other. “Anyway, I've dabbled in that in the fourth gra – err, I mean, a long while ago. Lemme see if I still remember anything... Alrighty –”

There was a flash, and then Tomer was in his father's room.

Dr. Raphael Livni, who had been sitting in his favorite armchair, rose at the sight of his son and frowned.

“Who the hell are you?”

 

Alternate I

“Dad... I –” Tomer's voice was hoarse.

“What? What did you call me?” Dr. Livni's hand slowly crept into the pocket of his tweed jacket.

“Dad, wait!” Tomer's head was spinning, and for a second he thought he was about to faint.

“Wait a moment...” Dr. Livni pointed a finger at his son. “Tomer?”

“Dad!” Tomer smiled feebly, a large tear dropping onto his nose.

Dr. Livni hit the table hard with his fist.

“Why the hell are you calling me that? Did you come to laugh at me? Huh?” He spoke rapidly and angrily, spittle flying out of his mouth and landing on Tomer's shirt.

Tomer stepped back.

“Dad, I swear to you, I don't understand!” he cried, pressing his hands together. “I beg you, explain to me what's happening!”

Dr. Livni's posture relaxed, and his handsome, noble face took on a contemptuous scowl.

“What's happening,” he spoke calmly, articulating every word, “is that my dearly departed wife's bastard son has the gall to come into my house and openly mock me.”

“I'm not mocking!” Tomer fell on his knees, sobs erupting from his chest. “Dad! Dad!”

Dr. Livni shook his head.

“I don't know what you are high on,” he said with disdain. “Or maybe you've really knocked your head on something. Now listen to me carefully. You are not my son. Your slutty mother slept with someone, and nine month later you came out. Last time I saw you was five years ago, at your mother's funeral. I don't want to see you ever again. Never.” He shouted suddenly, his face distorted with hatred. “Do you hear me, you despicable, pitiful mamzer? Never again!”

Tomer scrambled out of the room, sobbing and panting heavily. Dr. Livni slammed the door behind him.

 

Alternate II

Yael Livni sat on the sofa, dressed in red pajamas. When she saw Tomer, she snickered and poured two glasses of cheap cognac.

Lechayim!” Her speech was slurred. She raised her glass in a mock salute and gulped down the brownish liquid.

“Yael. Yael...” Tomer mumbled, standing up.

“Holy shit, what a crybaby.” Yael waved her hand. “When'd you come in, anyway? I didn't... hic! see you at all. What did you... hic! want from the old fucker?”

“Yaelush... my sister...” Tears kept pouring out of Tomer's eyes.

“Half-sister, you fucktard.” She took the other glass and sipped from it. “I have the mif... the misto... the misfortune of being the fucking daughter of that asshole... Dr. fucking Livni... Dr. fucking... hic! Limpdick... Haha... He gets lonely sometimes, you know what I mean? Hahaha!” She burped loudly.

“No,” Tomer said. “No. No. No!”

He ran outside and towards the Haas Promenade, his vision blurred by tears and sweat.

“No,” he kept repeating, like in a trance. “No.”

 

Alternate III

“Hey, look,” Dudi Bloedtraum told Avigail Paluli. “Isn't that Tomer Livni? What's he doing running around like an idiot?”

“Forget it, Dudik, he's just a laflaf.” Avigai rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, but he keeps drooling whenever you're around.” Dudi sneered. “He's always wanted to get in your pants. What a loser.”

“Like I'd ever sleep with him. I'd rather sleep with that crow.”

They laughed.

“Come on, Dudik, let's make him jealous.” Avigail waited till Tomer was nearby, then hugged Dudi's neck and kissed him on the lips.

Wheezing and nearly collapsing, Tomer tried to pull Avigail away.

Dudi Bloedtraum punched him hard in the solar plexus. Tomer fell on his knees.

“Yuck, get away from my dick, you homo.” Dudi kicked Tomer's face. “That'll teach you to touch my girlfriend, you piece of shit.”

“Man, he looks like he's gonna pee himself.” Avigail laughed. “Pathetic.”

Crawling slowly, blood pouring from his nose, Tomer reached the bench and cried out, “Crow! Alien! Please, give it back to me... I take it back... Give it back!!”

His words reverberated through the crystal clear air, echoing in the valley below.

No other sound disrupted the peaceful afternoon. The crow, perched on the back of the bench, gazed at Tomer attentively with a black eye.

“Oh no.” Tomer covered his face with trembling hands and began to weep.

“Hey, gever.” Dudi Bloedtraum tapped his shoulder. “What's wrong?”

 

V

Tomer removed his hands from his tear-stained face.

“Your nose is bleeding.” Dudi pointed at him. “You okay, akhi?”

“It's the sun.” Avigail Paluli patted Tomer's head. “I'm sorry, mami... I didn't mean to be such a bitch. Come on, let's get you home.”

Tomer looked at his girlfriend, then at his best friend.

Then he laughed.

He laughed so hard than he began to choke. Wiping off the blood and the tears, he climbed on the bench and kissed the crow.

“What a psycho,” Dudi said affectionately.

“Total clown,” Avigail spoke with relief, shaking her pretty head. “I don't know why I'm even dating him. I guess he's kinda cute.”

Tomer kissed her on the lips, hugged Dudi, and sprinted in the direction of his father's house. The crow flew behind him, cawing discreetly.

He rushed into the apartment and squeezed Yael in his arms.

“Tsutsik, what are you doing? You aren't mad? What's wrong with you?”

“Just glad that you're my sister,” he whispered, his eyes welling up again. He released her and smiled. “Wait a sec, I need to visit Dad.”

Tomer marched into his father's study and kissed Dr. Raphael Livni on his smoothly shaved, leathery cheek.

“Pray tell, what is the reason for this display of affection?” Dr. Livni was seemingly taken aback.

“Dad,” Tomer said, laughing and crying at once. “Dad... Did you... beget me?”

The older man opened his mouth and closed it again. His expression softened. With an unsteady hand, he caressed Tomer's unruly, wavy dark hair.

“Without doubt,” he replied. “The familial resemblance between these two fine specimens of the Livni clan constitutes irrefutable evidence.”

Tomer sniffled and ran outside. The crow sat on the end of a seesaw standing in the middle of a children's playground.

“Thank you.” Tomer said, sitting down on the other end. “Thank you!”

“Aww, that was nothing, my brother from another biological species.” The crow waved its wing. “Happy to oblige. Altruism, interstellar cooperation, yadda yadda yadda; the important thing is that we both had fun.”

“But who are you?” Tomer asked. “Where are you from, and why did you come here?”

 

VI

The crow was silent for a few seconds, seemingly engrossed in thought.

“See, Tomer,” it said finally. “It's not like in those sci-fi books and movies of yours. I'm not a messenger, or a wise space guru, or some nefarious Dalek bent on destroying your race. The truth is –” it sighed. “The truth is that I'm just an ordinary schoolboy. A teenager. Just like you.”

“What?” Tomer stared at the bird.

“Okay, I guess you do need a bit more information. My people share a small planet with another race, which is really into technology and stuff. Real ugly-looking sons of bitches, too. In this time, I mean right now, they are just a bunch of wild wackos. But your great-granddaughter –”

“My great-granddaughter?”

“Yup. Your great-granddaughter will come to our planet in a hundred-something years. She will be... was... I mean, was to me, will be to you – man, I'm confused now. She is a communication officer. And let me tell you, she communicates the hell out of those ugly dorks, the so-called Vozs. Literally prevents them from slaughtering us. So naturally, she's like our national heroine. Like Joan of Arc. Or Rey – you know, before she gets all mushy with Ben Solo. Or Hermione –”

“Yes, I understand,” Tomer said impatiently.

“So I've always had this stupid dream – to see her with my own eyes,” the crow said timidly. “She actually looks real hot. Tell you the truth, I've had a crush on her since third grade. I hope you don't mind, being her ancestor and all. Anyway, my people have learned to bend time and space, but we never travel in time, it's considered unethical. But I was just so curious... So I stole a time-space device. It's just a little ring you wear. I wanted to visit my heroine on Earth a couple of years before she left, in 2118, but punched in a wrong hundred by mistake. But hey, it's cool. Instead of Ayelet Livni I've met her great-grandfather Tomer, who is an awesome guy in his own right. I mean, was... I mean, will be.”

“I can't believe this...” Tomer mumbled. “I can't believe all this is real.”

“Well, you know what they say – there are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The crow tilted its head. “Man, I love Dante.”

“It's Shakespeare.” Tomer smiled. “Please, tell me more! How do you bend time and space? What do you really look like? What will happen to the Earth in the future? What's the history of your planet and its two races?”

“Curious, huh?” The crow moved a little, and for a second Tomer believed that he saw the face of a human baby, heart-warming and adorable in its vulnerable innocence. But that image instantly dissipated in the hot air, like a mirage.

“I gotta go home. To my family and friends, you know. Take care of yours, willya? See you around, buddy.” Tomer thought that the bird's voice sounded sad.

The crow spread its wings and soared into the pale blue sky, towards the puffy white clouds. It glided over the acacia trees on the sidewalk, and in a few moments turned into a black dot, which grew smaller and smaller, until it disappeared from sight.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2018 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.

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