banshee1When the siren goes I can’t help but imagine a huge banshee screaming out over all Tel Aviv. A huge yet somehow petite woman with silver hair and a voice that can kill.

When she screams her siren scream all of Tel Aviv hears. And runs.

We have settled into a bizarre kind of routine when the siren goes. Intellectually we know that merely being inside should be good enough. The success rate of Iron Dome is such that you would expect the only issue to be falling debris. If you’re inside debris isn’t a problem. Is it?

But whenever the banshee begins her wail we pick up our phones and wallets and head out into the corridor of the apartment building. There we meet our neighbors and exchange shrugs. As if we’re all a little embarrassed to be taking this banshee’s wail all that seriously. Yet we leave the apartment nonetheless, again and again.

Because we do take her wail seriously. Because there’s no guarantee that the Tamir missiles launched by the Iron Dome batteries will be able to save us each and every time.

So we each sit on the hard floor outside our doors listening to the banshee wail and wait with expectation for the inevitable boom of the interception. Or perhaps the boom of a successful strike on Tel Aviv. We look at one another, we look at our phones and we look up. As if the banshee’s wail gives us the power to see beyond the concrete roof and into the sky. As if we can see the vapor trails of predator and prey.

We look up and strain our ears. One boom, two booms, three booms. The siren dies. The banshee ends her wail. We hear another boom and wonder if it’s “safe” to go back into our apartments. We wonder with more than a little sheepishness because it was never that dangerous before. Unless it happens to be your apartment out of all the apartments in this city that gets hit. Unless by some terrible bad luck you win the lottery of tragedy.

In Sderot they run for the bomb shelters, in Tel Aviv we listen to the banshees wail with wonder while sitting on the cold, hard floor, looking up.

When she ends her siren song we go back inside and carry on doing whatever it was we were doing before. Until the banshee wails her mournful sound once again.