20 Chapters
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3. The Hand of Fatima

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM LEBANON

 

Aneesi paused outside the dining room. She had spent the long, hot summer morning helping Sitt Zeina prepare a lavish lunch, had waited on the guests without a single slip, and had just finished clearing the dessert dishes. She was tired and hungry, and her plastic sandals chafed from so much running back and forth. All she wanted right now was to sit down in the kitchen and enjoy the leftovers.

But something had caught her attention. Holding the silver serving plates still half full of pastries, she lingered in the hallway to listen.

Sitt Zeina was telling her husband, in no uncertain terms, “We must have that garden wall repaired, Yusuf. You know, where the old fig tree is pushing it over. You’ve put it off long enough, and costs are going up every day. Besides, there’s a lot more we should do with the garden.”

Before Dr. Jubeili could answer, one of the guests broke in with a laugh. “What are you thinking of, Zeina? Big ideas for the Jubeili estate?”

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Chapter 1

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

his mom without getting killed—or worse, grounded with no intermaze access.

A brisk knock at the door startled him. The door opened, and his mom stuck her head in. “Sidney, why are you still in your pajamas? We have to get moving, or—”

She saw the half‑assembled device on his desk. “Is that my new voxpod?!?!”

The doorbell rang and Sidney jumped up, relieved for the escape. “I’ll get it!” He squeezed past his mom and ran for the front door.

“I don’t understand why you can’t just take apart your own things….” his mom sputtered as she collected the voxpod pieces and strode into the bathroom to get ready for work. As he ran for the door, Sid could hear Housemate giving his mom the daily data download as the house’s digital brain set the shower temperature to her liking.

Sidney knew the punishment about to be dropped square on his head was only being postponed for lack of time.

He had a long history of dismantling household appliances, from his nanobot to the autopilot on the hoverboard that was his ninth birthday present. His track record of successfully reassembling these objects was less impressive. But when he saw his mom’s brand‑new voxpod, the idea of cracking open the deep red shell to see how it worked was irresistible.

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8. The Plan

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM A PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMP IN LEBANON

 

The moment the new art teacher walked into Rami’s classroom, he and every other boy bounced up straight in their seats. With her cheerful smile and green eyes, her shiny brown hair and pink smock that said “You Gotta Have Art,” she looked like all the flowers of springtime.

“We are very fortunate, boys,” announced the principal in his best speech-making Arabic, “to have Miss Nuha Trabulsi to teach you art for the rest of the term. Of course, she has to go to other schools in the camp as well, and therefore she can come here only one day a week, on Thursday. But she will make you learn many things about art—how to draw and how to paint, and maybe other things.” He glanced at Miss Trabulsi for confirmation.

She smiled. “Definitely,” she said.

Rami thought, only one hour a week? And he’d have to share Miss Trabulsi with more than a thousand other boys?

Others might have been discouraged by such odds, but not Rami. After one good look at Miss Trabulsi, he decided on his life’s mission—for the next three months, at least.

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Chapter 2

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

give her what she wants, and you won’t have any trouble.

That’s reasonable, isn’t it?”

Sidney looked at her narrowly. “It sounds reasonable, but it doesn’t feel reasonable.” He sighed. She looked tired.

“I hope you didn’t get into trouble or anything at work.”

“Well, pal, it wasn’t great to get called out in the middle of a meeting,” she said as she raised her eyebrows.

“Sorry. Thanks for picking me up.”

“Just promise me you’ll keep a handle on your temper from now on, okay?”

“Okay,” Sid replied ruefully. He felt bad about ruining his mom’s meeting, but he wasn’t sorry for what he had said.

It was all true. As they made their way home, Sidney admired the nanobot bridge. The beams glistened in the sunshine.

Maybe life would be simpler if I just act like a mindless bot and do whatever everyone else does, he thought. The car lowered its wheels to the ground as it left the highway and started threading its way through the neighborhoods that led to the Jamisons’ house. Sid brooded, staring out the window, wishing he never had to see Ms. Dirge again.

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Chapter 3

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

Sis was a bit nervous about flying, but his excitement about getting to the school overrode his apprehension about the flight.“They’ll be here, don’t worry,” his mom said.Just then, a shadow fell over the house, and the leaves on the front lawn were blasted away by the arrival of theSci  Hi retrieval unit. A stealth aircraft touched down lightly on the front lawn. Silent engines on the wings and tail swiveled as they shut down, turbofans spinning.The kids playing out in the street just stood and stared.“Your transport has arrived,” Housemate said.“Whoa....” Sid breathed. He had been expecting a taxi or maybe a limo—not this futuristic thing. “Mom? I think my ride’s here.”“Wow!” his mother said as she joined him in the living room. “Talk about traveling in style. C’mon, let’s go see.”Sid grabbed his duffel bag and headed for the front door.The door to the aircraft opened, and a short set of stairs lowered to the ground. A large robot appeared in the doorway and climbed down to the ground.“Hello. My designation is Talos, one of the AIs assigned to Sci Hi. You must be Ellen and Sidney Jamison.

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