Chapter Two

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"Hey sleepy head! Wake up. It's past eight o'clock!"

Marwan sprung out of bed, bewildered that he'd slept so late. He distinctly remembered going asleep early. How come his alarm hadn't gone off for Fajr?

He checked it as he changed into normal clothes.

The alarm was off. That was strange. He always kept it on, since it was the only way to guarantee he'd wake up early enough. He hurriedly went to the bathroom and washed up, returning to his room and praying for about three minutes. He had to be quick to get to school on time, so he didn't recite extra surahs.

When he finished his prayer, he found Salima standing in the doorway giving him a funny look. She was wearing a T-shirt today, which she only did occasionally now that she was close to reaching puberty. She usually wore dresses and abayas.

"What?" he asked.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Uh..." Marwan raised an eyebrow. What did she mean? "Praying. What did you think I was doing?"

"Praying?" his sister seemed bamboozled for some reason. "That's prayer?"

"What?" Now it was his turn to be confused. She knew what prayer looked like! "Of course it's prayer!" He raised his hands like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Well, if you say so." Salima grinned. "But it looked more like you were kissing the floor."

Marwan's eyes widened. Was something wrong with his sister today? She knew perfectly well how to pray, and she knew it was ridiculous to say something like that! It was as if someone had hit her on the head and caused her to lose her memory.

"Anyways, hurry up. Mom's waiting outside in the car."

She sprinted downstairs and Marwan heard the door swing open as she left.

He paused. Since when did Salima call their mother 'Mom'? It was always 'Mama' for her. Not even Marwan called their mother 'Mom', and he'd stopped saying 'Mama' ages ago. Besides, why did he need a ride when MI High was just around the corner?

His mother's voice called from downstairs.

"Marvin? Can you come down already? I thought Selena told you to hurry up."

Marvin? Selena? Why was Ma whitewashing their names like that?

At the landing, Marwan was in for a big shock. His mother, who normally followed the religious practice of covering herself from head to toe, was only wearing a blouse and shorts. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she looked like a stereotypical soccer mom. And she was planning on heading outside that way.

What in the world was going on?

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