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from A Test of Loyalty by Laurie Stewart

Part 3
Faraj, and Samantha

I couldn’t believe those stupid girls. Standing around the porch stairs like they were the only ones who needed to use them. It was bad enough to see them smoking and drinking in public, like common whores, but then to force me to talk to them, by standing right in my way...
Wait a minute, who was the girl who’d been in my way? I didn’t remember seeing her before. But it didn’t matter, she was drinking beer. The Mullah had been very clear about such things.
Your body was sacred; you don’t destroy it with alcohol or stimulants. And decent women were modest, and polite. They didn’t curse and wear short tops, showing off their bellies, or pierce themselves to wear jewellery.
But it was a bit confusing, I couldn’t stop myself from staring at them, it made me feel guilty, but the older boys said that was the girls’ fault that I felt that way, not mine.
Opening my backpack, I pulled out the books I’d picked up at Fadi’s. They were essays on true Islam, and the holy war on the West. My grandmother would be upset if she saw them, and my uncle would take me to the Mosque for another day-long lecture on compromise.
Why didn’t they understand that I don’t want to compromise? I don’t want to be moderate and tolerant and make allowances for everything. I was angry and hurting and wanted someone to pay for it. I wanted to be strong like my mother. I don’t even remember my father, so why did it matter what he’d believed.
But I remembered the day my mom died. I was only seven, but she’d explained everything, just as if I were already a man.
When I was just a baby, the Shi’tes in the south rebelled against Saddam Hussain. The U.S. had promised support and then bailed when the war started. Our people were rounded up, tortured and executed, thousands of them. Including my father. She never forgave the west for that.
She died fighting them.
I slid the books between my mattress and box spring. Fadi said he had a way to fix things. To make everything balance out. I just had to trust him. And read the books he’d lent me.

Monday, just over a week before school. I had no idea where any of my school stuff was, and Mom had just thrown a fit and declared that half of the stuff ...

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