Lighthouse by Nell Stevens
On the second day, they bombed the airport. We had gone to bed the night before sticky with sweat, and woke up, tangled in damp sheets, to the news that we were stuck. The door out of Beirut had been locked overnight and the city which had seemed so vast the day before, embracing us casually like the summers heat shrank, took hold.
I was part of a group of students who had volunteered to teach English in Lebanon for the summer; we were spending an orientation week together in Beirut before separating out around the country. This was in July 2006 and the day of our arrival in the city coincided with the capture by Hezbollah of two Israeli soldiers on Lebanons border with Israel.
The first sign of trouble was a parade of young men on motorbikes roaring past us as we walked by the sea; they were waving flags and firing guns into the air. Nobody except us looked up or behaved differently and yet the city seemed tense, on edge or was that just me, my own nerves about this new country, these new people and the job ahead of me? Above us, a lighthouse looked down, unfazed, and the sea was calm, slapping gently against the rocks; we continued our tour; it was probably nothing. Later, we ate al fresco in the evenings heat, the gleam of nearby shop windows reflecting rays of the sinking sun into our eyes.
Israel began its shelling of Beirut that night. We clustered around the television of our shabby hostel and watched footage of destruction on the streets outside our window. We stayed up until our eyes began to water through the effort of staying open; then, when we woke on the second day, we heard: they had bombed the airport.
Until that moment, our situation had seemed surreal, but also somehow distant, despite the proximity of the falling bombs. This was not our war; it was not More