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I Am Not A Scorpion
by Oxartes © 2007

"Basmat! Get up child! It's late! You can't sleep all summer!"

Why not? Basmat thought.

"The goats are waiting!"

Basmat stuck her head out from under the blankets. "Yes Papa! I'm coming!"

"BEFORE Ramadan!" her father shouted from downstairs.

Ramadan was three months away. "Yes Papa!" Basmat replied, getting out of bed.

Basmat lived with her parents and four sisters in Kafr Haroun, an Arab village in the central Galilee. At 22 she was already divorced. Her arranged marriage had been a short-lived disaster. She moved back in with her parents and was studying to be a nurse at the regional college in Acre. Her family was Galilee Bedouin. Even though her father managed the local branch of one of Israel's major banks, the family was true to its Bedouin roots and still kept olive trees and a small flock of goats. It was Basmat's turn to mind the goats that week.

She got up, showered, dressed and went downstairs. Her mother, father and sisters had finished breakfast.

Her father had the morning edition of Al-Ittihad, one of Israel's major Arabic dailies, sprawled across the table. The main stories and graphic pictures were about the previous evening's terrorist attacks. A teenaged Jewish boy, a member of a fringe right-wing extremist group, had stolen his brother's M-16 and opened fire at a mosque in one of Haifa's Arab neighborhoods, murdering four, before being lynched by infuriated locals. Three hours later a Palestinian suicide-terrorist had blown himself up outside a crowded suburban Haifa train station, murdering six.

"Look at this! Such a bloody business," Basmat's mother mumbled, "Shooting at a mosque and then blowing up a train station! Ach!"

Basmat leaned over to look.

"Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. That's what the Jews' book says. Sometimes I think that that's all they understand," her father said.

"And what Papa? Tell me," Basmat blurted, "Shall we bludgeon each other until we're all blind and toothless?"

Basmat's father sipped the last of his coffee. "No, of course not. But I'll be damned if I know how to stop it all. When two scorpions are locked in combat, the one that will not sting dies."

"Are we scorpions then Fawaz?" Basmat's mother asked.

"Oh, I see that I'm outnumbered. I'm retreating to the bank. At least the money doesn't argue with me," he said smiling. He kissed Basmat and her mother and made to leave.

"What about your paper Papa?"

"I'll read it and all the others at the bank. You take it. Something to read while you rest the goats. Bye."

"Here Basmat," her mother said after Basmat's father had left, "I've prepared food for you. Maybe take the goats to Ein Ailun. Tourists never go there. There's lots of water and plenty of shade. I put your nursing book and an old blanket in your bag. You can sit and read, my little scholar. Nobody will bother you except the goats." Basmat's mother stuck the newspaper in beside the book.

"Thank you Mama."

Basmat slung the embroidered bag over her shoulder and went out into the large yard. She collected Isham, their mixed-breed dog, and a tall walking stick. She released the twenty goats from their pen and led them through Kafr Haroun to the trailhead.

Kafr Haroun overlooked a densely wooded ravine. The Ein Ailun karstic spring lay an hour's walk down the ravine, where it merged with a somewhat wider valley. There was forage and water for the goats and plenty of shade amidst the carob, oak and olive trees.

With Isham keeping the goats together, Basmat soon reached the trailhead. She turned her back on Kafr Haroun and led the goats down toward Ein Ailun. Basmat gave herself to the forest, hoping to find solace in its embrace. But the trees offered her no comfort. She could not get the gory images of the previous night's events and what her father had said out of her head. The entire way down to Ein Ailun, they stubbornly refused to let her go.

And when she reached Ein Ailun there was someone there.

*               *               *

David lay on his back on a large flat stone next to the pool of Ein Ailun looking up at the sunshine poking through the leaves. He was due to go back to the USA the following evening. He had come to Israel for the summer between his sophomore and junior years at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He had been on an intensive ten-week leadership training program to be an advocate for Israel back on campus.

David's cousins lived in a small Jewish community up and across the valley from Ein Ailun. His cousins were busy that day and had suggested that he hike down to Ein Ailun. David had had precious little time to himself in the last three months, and none since coming to Israel. He thought that it would be nice to enjoy the solitude of the woods, especially after the training course and before the maelstrom of school.

But he wasn't enjoying the solitude at all. The previous day's incidents weren't the first terrorist attacks of the summer. There had been others. The atmosphere at the training course had been very charged. The instructors tried to imbue David and the other participants with an acute sense of urgency about their mission. That's what they called it, our mission.

"Are we soldiers then?" David had asked.

"Everyone's a soldier," the instructor had replied, "We're just training you to be effective ones."

That night in a pub, David asked the same instructor, "What about peace?"

"Do you want course blahblah or do you want to know what I really think?"

"What you really think."

"Not in our lifetime. Maybe a long-term armistice at best, but peace? Hah. Too much hate under the bridge. The Left dropped our guard at Oslo and we got bombed, shot, rocketed and fucked."

"So we just beat on them more?"

"Hell no. The Right has its head up its ass as bad as the Left."

"Then what's the solution? Where does it stop? Where does it even begin to stop?"

"Here, I'll show you. Hey, Ofer, another round of drafts over here! There. Drink your beer and try not to think about it. That's the solution."

David trailed a finger in the cold spring water of Ein Ailun. But I have to think about it. I can't get it out of my head. My mission? Fuck-and-a-half. He sat up as a flock of goats and a barking dog entered the area around the pool and came up to the water to drink. There was a young Arab woman with them.

*               *               *

Basmat saw the young man sit up on the flat rock. He wore cut-off jeans and a t-shirt with Hebrew lettering. She guessed that he was Jewish. She watched him look around at Isham and the goats and then catch sight of her. She smiled politely.

David looked at the Arab woman. She had a large bag of some kind slung over one shoulder. She wore jeans, a long-sleeve blouse and a loose-fitting white headscarf; her face was wholly visible, as were part of the sides and top of her head. He returned her smile, nodding slightly.

Basmat stood there for a minute before David realized that his knapsack, thermos and beach towel were spread all over the flat rock. The other rocks lining the pool were all either uneven or jagged. David quickly gathered his things and moved them to one side of the rock. He beckoned for her to come and sit down.

Basmat smiled again and sat down. She pulled her nursing textbook out of her bag and set it down next to her. She looked at David again. "Yahudi?" she asked in Arabic.

"I don't speak Arabic," David replied, in English. His Hebrew was very poor and he knew no Arabic. Then it hit him, Yahudi sounded like..."Yehudi," he said, using one of the few Hebrew words he knew and then switching to English, "Yes Jewish, Yahudi," he said, nodding.


"Yes, American...Amerikiye."

"Basmat," she said, pointing at herself.

"David," he replied, pointing to himself.

Basmat held up her textbook. Yuck, I don't need to know Arabic to know what that is, David thought. He reached for the morning's Jerusalem Post in his bag as Basmat opened the book and began to read, making notes in a small notebook.

Basmat glanced at him quickly as he reached into his bag. She looked at his bare arms. Don't even think about it, an inner voice warned. She shook the thought out of her head and went back to her book and forced herself to read.

An hour later Basmat decided to eat. She put her book down and took out the little bags of olives from the family grove, homemade goat's cheese and pita bread that her mother had baked that morning. David watched her and reached for the food he had brought from his cousins'. He took out little bags or containers of tabouleh, miniature pickled eggplants, grapes, cheese and pita. He gestured with his hands and said, "Let's eat together."

Basmat understood him and nodded her agreement. She pushed her things to one side and spread her father's newspaper as a placemat. She stopped, staring at the grisly pictures of the previous day's atrocities. One picture, from the suburban Haifa train station, showed a young woman soldier holding a howling blood-spattered baby. Next to the soldier was an overturned buggy and—according to the caption—the body of the infant's grandmother. Somebody had covered her head and upper body with some kind of cloth. Parts of the cloth and the platform under the dead grandmother were red with blood. Next to it was a photo from the Haifa mosque. A wheelchair lay on its side. Next to it was a covered body. A policeman led away a crying, bloodied boy.

David saw the pictures. His paper had very similar ones. He looked at them, and at Basmat looking at them, in silence. Basmat couldn't take her eyes off them. Jew kills Arab kills Jew kills Arab kills... So much much death. The darkness was crushing. She felt helpless before the numbing horror. Oh God, how do I make this go away? Basmat looked up at David. Tears ran down her face.

David reached out and wiped away the tears on her right cheek. Basmat closed her eyes and moved her head back and forth, caressing his fingers with her cheek. His touch was comforting, soothing.

Basmat opened her eyes as David gently wiped the tears on her left cheek. Basmat reached up and took his hand, pressing it to her cheek. She held his hand for a few seconds. Full of sudden indignation, she snarled at the darkness: Here, watch! she thought, Killing isn't the only way to make a statement!

Basmat slowly pulled David's hand towards her mouth, touching his fingers to her lips. She licked and kissed his fingertips, tasting her salty tears, and looked up at his eyes.

David felt Basmat's lips and tongue on his fingers. He stared into her eyes. She has soft eyes, a kind face. She's very beautiful but...she's Arab. I don't know her. He held back.

Basmat sensed David's hesitation. Still looking at his eyes, she reached out and crumpled the newspaper and its photos. He understood her at once. Yes, he thought, yes...

They leaned forward and kissed each other, lightly at first. David closed his eyes and let the sensation wash over him, allowing her resolve to strengthen his. When he opened his eyes, Basmat leaned in and kissed him again, this time stronger. He responded in kind.

Basmat reached up and pulled off her headscarf, shaking out her long black hair. David took off his crocheted kipa (yarmulke) and laid it on top of Basmat's headscarf on the rock. They took each other in their arms and began to kiss, deeply, powerfully. Basmat thrust her tongue into David's mouth. Their tongues touched and danced, caressing and stroking each other.

This feels so different but so natural, Basmat thought. His smell. He smelled very differently from her ex-husband and from the other men in her family. But it's good, he smells good, she thought as she felt David's back, pulling up his t-shirt and running her hands over his bare skin. She felt herself moisten; she flexed her thighs against each other in response to the tingling in her groin.

She's exotic, mysterious, David thought. He loved her taste, her smell, the feel of her tongue as it glided over his. He ran his fingers through her long black hair and down her back. Her hair was silky, smooth. He gripped her back, fingering her bra straps under her blouse. He was hard and felt his cock straining in his shorts.

Basmat put her head back, allowing David to kiss and nuzzle her neck. Each kiss fed and stoked the sensations in her groin, arousing her all the more. Basmat drew back slightly. Shaking her hair again, she unbuttoned her blouse and then reached behind herself and unhooked her bra. She took them both off, piling them on top of her headscarf.

David looked at her petite breasts and smooth brown skin. He pulled off his t-shirt and added it to the small pile of clothes next to them. Basmat took David's hands and placed them on her breasts. David teased and played with the nipples. Basmat shuddered. Her wet crotch throbbed. She ran her hands through the fine curly hair on David's chest, massaging his pecs and teasing his nipples.

They embraced again. David moaned; Basmat's breasts felt marvelous against his hairy chest. He bent down to kiss them, to gently hold Basmat's nipples in his teeth as he licked and tongued them. The touch was electrifying. She moaned, slightly arching her back, offering her breasts to David, and running her fingers through his hair.

David kissed Basmat's breasts and began to kiss his way downward towards her jeans, pausing to run his tongue around and in her belly-button. You're delicious, he thought. Basmat reached down to caress his thigh and run her hand over the bulge in his cut-offs. David stopped at her jeans, his tongue probing below the seam. He inhaled deeply, intoxicated by her scent. Basmat reached down and drew his head upwards. She kissed him as she slowly unzipped his shorts and slipped three fingers inside, feeling his cock through his jockeys. The ache in her groin became overwhelming.

Basmat stood up and faced David. She unbuttoned and unzipped her jeans and stepped out of them and her panties all at once. David quickly took off his cut-offs and jockeys. He sat on the edge of the flat rock and smeared the few drops of pre-cum on the glans of his cock. He motioned for her to climb up on his thighs and sit on him.

Basmat reached down to spread her lips and in so doing, brushed her clitoris. During and after her brief marriage, she had discovered how to pleasure herself and had done so on a regular basis. Funny, I always feel guilty about doing that. She looked at David's body and at his erect cock jutting up into the air, beckoning to her to come and sample its pleasures. She climbed up on David's thighs and raised herself up, her opened pussy poised over the tip of his straining cock...But I feel no guilt whatsoever about this...and plunged down on it, taking David deeply inside her.

David knew that some of his friends might consider what he was doing as some kind of betrayal. They would be shocked. He watched his cock swiftly disappear inside Basmat as she sat down on it. Well fuck you, be shocked then!

Basmat dug her nails into David's back and kissed him deeply as she writhed and squirmed on his penis. She loved feeling his hardness inside her. David gently thrust into Basmat and reached down to massage her clit with his thumb. He's slow and patient. Basmat's ex-husband had viewed sex strictly as a one-way street. The idea of making love with her, that they should delight in pleasing each other, was utterly beyond him. And here I am with a Jew inside me and he's...the desire to make a statement gave way to raw lust as she felt David sweeping her towards her first non-self induced orgasm. Primal instinct drove her to come hard; her only other concern was that David should come as equally hard. Basmat released David's back. She put her hands on his face and looked into his eyes. I want him to see me...Basmat cried out sharply as her orgasm erupted over her and spread. She held David's head, moaning in joy and triumph, losing herself in the pleasure.

David moaned uncontrollably. His thrusts became more frenzied as Basmat's hot, wet and snug pussy seemed to envelope not just his cock but all of him. He felt her pussy contract as she came. The contractions tipped him over the edge. He threw an arm behind her back and pressed her to him as tightly as he could as he came, ejaculating the first jolt of hot come deep inside her. David stared into Basmat's eyes, convulsing in ecstasy as he came inside her.

Basmat and David held onto each other tightly until they were completely spent and for a while afterwards. They kissed lightly.

David caressed Basmat's back and her ass. "What a beautiful woman you are," he whispered into her ear. It hit him. Before, he had thought of her as an Arab woman and now she was just a woman. Maybe that's it, he thought as he held her. He looked at his kipa lying on top of her headscarf next to them. If we cast aside adjectives like "Jew" and "Arab" and see each other as men and women first, maybe that's how peace begins.

Basmat laid her head on David's shoulder, occasionally nuzzling his neck. "Ana mish akrab," she whispered, "Ana mish akrab."

David's cock had slipped out of Basmat and a warm stickiness was seeping out of her. Basmat backed off of him and stood up. David reached into his bag and offered Basmat some tissues. Basmat shook her head, stepped up onto the flat rock and jumped into the deep pool of Ein Ailun. David smiled and jumped in after her.

The water was icy cold but very refreshing. David waited while Basmat washed his come out of her and then took her in his arms. They kissed and stood there in the water for a few minutes, savoring each other's company before swimming to the rock and climbing out.

They dried themselves with David's towel and got dressed. Basmat took her pen and wrote an e-mail address on a slip of paper that she tore from her notebook. She held it up and said, "Basmat." David nodded and took it from her.

Basmat called for Isham and got him to round up the goats, which had spent the time foraging, drinking from Ein Ailun and resting. She grabbed her walking stick and prepared to head back to Kafr Haroun. She tied on her headscarf and kissed David, hugging him one last time. "Shukra," she whispered, "Shukra."

David stood there by Ein Ailun and watched Basmat head towards the trail she arrived on. Just before she disappeared into the forest, Basmat looked back at David. "Salaam David" she said in Arabic and then added in halting Hebrew, "Sha-lom."

David waved. "Shalom Basmat, Salaam." He watched her go. He collected his things and started back up towards his cousins' community. Now he enjoyed the solitude.

*               *               *

The horror banished, Basmat gave herself to the forest, hoping to find solace in its embrace. The trees welcomed her.

*               *               *

"What does 'Shukra' mean in Arabic?" David asked his cousin Tal as they sat on the latter's back deck watching the moon over the valley.

"'Thank you'."

"And 'Ana mish akrab'?"

Tal's eyebrows shot up. "Where did you learn that?"

"I met an Arab down at Ein Ailoun today."

"And your Arab friend said that?"

"Um, yeah. So, what's it mean?"

"It means 'I am not a scorpion.' I wonder what your friend meant."

Beats me, David thought but he smiled anyway.

*               *               *

The officers of the Rutgers Israel Action Group held their first meeting.

"So David," one of his friends asked, slapping him on the back, "Do anything interesting in Israel?"

David looked at him. You have no idea. David then informed his colleagues that he had contacted the Arab Students Association Chairman and was setting up a bi-monthly dialogue roundtable.

*               *               *

When Basmat resumed her studies in Acre in the fall, she contacted the Beit HaGefen Arab-Jewish Center ( in Haifa and volunteered to help set up a branch in Acre. She told Maria, a Christian from Acre and her best friend, as they ate lunch at the college cafeteria. Then she asked Maria, whose English was very good, if she would be willing to help her write and understand e-mails in English.

"What got into you?" Maria asked.

"Not 'what'," Basmat smiled, "'who'."

© 2007 Oxartes. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

Bio: Oxartes, 43, is the married papa (proud, on both counts!) of two children. He is a professional copyeditor and proofreader who has discovered that he like to write erotica as a hobby. "Writing is like therapy," he says.

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