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Also by MK Alexander:


Jekyll’s Daughter

My New World: A Teenager’s WWII Odyssey

Random Sacrifice


Funny thing about embassies, you always feel like you’re being watched. Not that I’ve ever been in an embassy before. It just seemed like the thing to do: keep a close eye on everyone. In a foreign embassy that made perfect sense. When it’s your own embassy, your own countrymen watching you, it seems a little odd, but at least you felt safe. And now it was actually a great relief to be seated in this windowless office, watched or not. Relief from the heat, the bone-rattling scooter ride, the dust and grime of the desert, the shrieking women, and the general sense of despair that seemed to pervade everywhere outside these walls.

I was inside at last and Parveen was by my side. In short order, we were greeted by a fresh-faced woman in her mid-twenties named Kathy, an embassy employee. She gave us both identification cards, even hung them around our necks, and then led us through a maze of corridors. I expected her to say, “Welcome to Disney World,” but she didn’t.

The American Embassy in Baghdad was brand new, relatively, and super-sized to boot. It was a huge and complicated place, an easy place to get lost in. But the long walk through the inner sanctum, to some “guest apartments,” as Kathy called them, was also a relief. I saw American faces again: eager, intelligent, curious, friendly, even efficient faces. A few people nodded hello and some even smiled as we passed them hurriedly. The murmurs of my mother tongue also served to soothe me. Along with relief, I could feel exhaustion beginning to creep in. Kathy whisked us through an unobtrusive exit and we continued outside, behind some concrete barriers to a low block of apartments.

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