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Authors: Jessamyn Hope

Safekeeping

BOOK: Safekeeping
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MORE PRAISE FOR
SAFEKEEPING

“With a sharp eye and a masterful hand, Jessamyn Hope brings to life the complex world of one Israeli kibbutz—from the troubled young volunteers to the new immigrant Russians to its old embattled Socialist founders—during a single sweltering Middle Eastern summer. Rich in history, lavish in its portrayal of place, and fueled by an exciting tale about a jewel that must be restored to its rightful owner,
Safekeeping
is a terrifically absorbing read by a writer who knows what she's talking about. I was hooked from the first page.”

—
JOAN LEEGANT

author of
Wherever You Go
and
An Hour in Paradise

“In
Safekeeping
, Jessamyn Hope explores the manifold contradictions of the people drawn to Israel as elegantly as the medieval jeweler who designed the heirloom brooch that dramatically catalyzes her plot. Both passionate and compassionate, the novel is a joy to read.”

—
MELVIN JULES BUKIET

author of
After: A Novel
and editor of
Nothing Makes You Free: Writings by Descendants of Jewish Holocaust Survivors

“I hadn't read very far into Jessamyn Hope's beautiful novel before I knew I was in the presence of a unique talent. Her voice is unlike anyone else's, and she knows these characters inside out and has made them come alive in these gorgeously written pages.
Safekeeping
is cause for celebration. I admired every word of it.”

—
STEVE YARBROUGH

author of
The Realm of Last Chances
and
Safe from the Neighbors

“In
Safekeeping
, Jessamyn Hope introduces an extraordinary cast of characters and by way of their desires and secrets weaves an intricate and moving portrait of humanity. Hope is an enormously skillful storyteller, providing great suspense while also creating the daily patterns of these memorable lives.”

—
JILL M
c
CORKLE

author of
Life After Life
and
Going Away Shoes

“This globetrotting, century-hopping novel is extraordinary. Fearless and tender, Jessamyn Hope holds in her hands both the sweep of history and the intricacies of the human heart. Lives shaped by larger forces must still be lived, and with desire and fear, strength and frailty, the characters in
Safekeeping
movingly struggle towards transformation. These are people and a story that will stick with me.”

—
CAITLIN HORROCKS

author of
This Is Not Your City

My deepest appreciation goes to Michelle Caplan, who was everything I could want in an editor: tireless, passionate, insightful. Without her,
Safekeeping
would have been a lesser novel. The book owes much to Fred Price and the whole team at Fig Tree Books, including the support of Erika Dreifus. I am also indebted to the unflagging championship of my agent, Mitchell Waters. Over the eight years it took to write
Safekeeping
, many writers read earlier drafts, and I am grateful for all their critiques. Special thank-yous go to Douglas Silver, both for his friendship and his invaluable feedback on a last draft, and to Jonathan Papernick, who helped the book find a home. The road to my first published novel has been a long one, and a few people walked the whole way with me: my best friend, Mat Dry; my sister, Ashley; my dad, the consummate storyteller, who never once encouraged me to go into a more secure profession; and my mom, who has been dead for twenty-five years, but I could imagine her rooting for me. And then there's my husband, Yoav Bergner. My patron, my biggest fan, my most demanding critic. My love. He is behind this book and so much of my happiness.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Jessamyn Hope

Excerpts previously appeared in
Green Mountain Review
and
Descant Magazine.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Fig Tree Books LLC, Bedford, New York

www.FigTreeBooks.net

Jacket design by Strick&Williams

Interior design by Neuwirth & Associates

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available Upon Request

ISBN number 978-1-941493-07-6

Distributed by Publishers Group West

First edition

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

To Yoav

Contents

Part One

Dresden, 1945

Part Two

Holy Roman Empire, 1347

Part Three

New York City, 2014

Part One

A
dam trudged up the darkening country road with a giant centipede stuck to his back, wiggling its army of legs. He could see to the top of the hill, where the road ended with the gate to the kibbutz. A rusted wrought-iron sign arched over the entrance, stamping the yellow sky in both Hebrew and Latin letters:
SADOT HADAR
. Fields of Splendor, his grandfather had taught him. The eucalyptuses towering along the left side of the road refreshed the air with their sweet, medicinal scent. To the right, horses grazed in a willowy meadow, and beyond them, a sliver of moon floated over the shadowed face of Mount Carmel. Was this what his grandfather saw when he first approached the kibbutz? Adam wiped his brow. He was sweat-soaked. His jaw ached from clamping his teeth, and his swollen feet felt fused to the insides of his sneakers. But it could've been worse. Last time he went cold turkey, the centipedes were crawling out of his mouth.

He reached the kibbutz's guardhouse without the young soldier inside noticing him. Hunched over his desk, the soldier pored over handwritten sheet music.

Adam knocked next to the window. “Hey, hi. I'm here to volunteer.”

The soldier startled. “What?”

“Hi. Me. Volunteer.”

“I wasn't told to expect a volunteer.”

Adam had heard anyone could volunteer. This soldier, this kid, better not turn him away. “I didn't register ahead of time. I hope that's okay. My grandfather—”

“Are you cold?”

“Excuse me?”

The soldier looked him up and down. “It's the end of April. Twenty-eight degrees. Why the jacket?”

“'Cause it's not twenty-eight degrees or whatever that is in Fahrenheit in New York. I just got here.”

The lips at the end of the soldier's long pimpled face pressed together. He sighed, put down his pencil. “Take it off.”

Adam did not appreciate being ordered about, especially from someone who didn't look eighteen years old. The jacket had to stay on. He was clammy and shivering and taking it off might freak out the centipede hiding underneath. He wiped the sweat dripping into his eyes. “Seriously?”

The soldier pushed away from his desk and picked up his M-16, making Adam regret not doing whatever the hell the kid asked. The last thing he needed was to make a scene. He dropped his backpack and tore off his jacket while the soldier, rifle slung on his shoulder, stepped out of the booth, surprising Adam with his gangly height. Even with his poor posture, the kid was half a head taller than him, and almost as skinny, the green army uniform hanging off his bony shoulders and hips. Adam resisted the urge to hug himself, but he couldn't stop his teeth from rattling. His cold, damp T-shirt clung to his skin, and the pungency of his own BO revolted him. He hadn't showered in a week. At least.

The soldier pointed at his backpack on the ground. “Open it.”

Adam grabbed the backpack, unzipped it, and tried to hand it over.

“Just hold it open.”

The soldier dipped his lanky arm inside the bag and shuffled around the two balls of socks and one pair of boxer shorts. “You're here to volunteer, and that's all you've packed? Two socks? Where's your toothbrush?”

The El Al security girl had confronted him with the same questions at JFK, moments before two other security personnel wearing radio earpieces appeared. As those guys silently led him from the spacious terminal through an unmarked door and into a small windowless side room, his heart thumped so hard he feared he was going to black out. To his relief they didn't search his pockets or body cavities, only grilled him with a hundred questions about his lack of luggage and where he went to school and why was he was jackhammering his leg; they even asked if he believed in God and then why not. After surviving that interrogation, once he was
up in the sky, out of the five boroughs for the first time, gazing out the oval window at the tiny glinting ocean waves far below, he figured he was safe, at least when it came to the police. But maybe that was wishful thinking. This was 1994, after all. Everything was so high-tech. What if the NYPD somehow identified him and transmitted a worldwide warrant for his arrest? He pictured his name and face streaming out of a million fax machines, and the centipede crept up the nape of his neck. The effort it took not to swat at it made him shudder.

BOOK: Safekeeping
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ads

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