By Deborah Rodriguez

ISBN-10: 0345524365

ISBN-13: 9780345524362

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Sample text

A young man, unusually tall for an Afghan, with a black beard and deep-set eyes, was at the car’s heavy back door, holding it open for Yazmina. Another was sitting in the driver’s seat. Yazmina wanted to fight, to kick and scream and run, but she knew that to resist meant they’d take Layla. So she asked, “May I get my things? ” the man yelled at her, pushing her shoulder roughly. She started to climb in, then turned to her uncle and hugged him. He whispered in her ear the poem that her own mother had recited to Yazmina when she was only a baby: The moon is made round by the right hand of God.

She was courting kidnappers, Bashir Hadi had told her again and again, and was at risk of being shot. Take the car, he’d told her, and if she had to walk, she must keep her head down, not speak unless spoken to, never take the same route twice, do this and that and never this and always that, and it made her sick. She respected the ways of this country—she knew, for example, to always cover her head and her arms—but she also respected herself, and sometimes, she simply had to walk. And so she did.

She looked forward each week to the thrill of the exchange, to the joy of seeing Rashif’s smile and twinkling eyes. She took a drag from her cigarette, folded the letter carefully, and stuck it deep in her pocket. She exhaled, watched the smoke wind its way up the house’s wall, dissipating into the air as it rose. If only she could read. Only then would she learn what he was trying to tell her. Ahmet leaned against the wall at the gate, watching the sky turn lavender over the hills that surrounded Kabul and the mountain peaks in the distance blur into the twilight.

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A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez


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