Guide to Muslim names and their meanings:
Haider= lion
Zahirah= obvious
Thayer= rebel
Kaleem = Speaker, talker.
Salimah = Peace, flawless, faultless, safe, healthy
Guide to Arabic words and their meanings:
Om= mother
Ab= father
Masa'a AlKair= good evening
Shokran = Thankyou
Ma'a ElSalama= Goodbye
Laa = No
Hal tatakalm = Can you speak..?

Haider ran after the boys. They took his hat and he wanted it back. It was hard to be a young Iraqi boy and make friends, especially if your father was a former Captain in the United States army.
"Haider," his mother was calling him, "Haider, come here!" He ran around the house and into her waiting arms. Her headscarf fell down and he felt her warmth.
"Om, they took my hat. They took the hat Ab gave me."
"My little lion, you mustn't let them tease you. I'll talk to Zahirah and ask her for it later today." Haider's mother went to the kitchen and continued with dinner. Haider went into the living room and turned on the television. He flipped around looking for a cartoon or a children's show. He stopped on each new channel to see if something interesting was happening, "Haider, turn that up please". His mother turned off the sink and came into the room. Her skirt was blue with purple mixed in. They lived outside any major city and were very close to the border, so his mother pretty much had free range. Only when she went out alone did she really follow all the rules. His father, Captain John Macan, was still a US citizen and as such, both he and his family were not subject to harsh punishment for breaking simple laws. Sadaam and his police were not to harm Captain Macan or his family by any means. Haider didn't know why, but no one ever tried to do anything about the fact that his mother walked around without a burka on. She was a respected figure in their small village. The Gulf War hadn't touched them. Haider turned the volume up and listened with his mother to the Iraqi news team.
"American soldiers had a small victory today and proceeded to stop Iraqi soldiers from taking over a small Kuwait village. The Iraqi army has yet to comment, however inside sources say that the Americans will next attempt to take over Iraq herself." Haider heard his mother sigh and get off the chair.
"Haider, turn that off and get ready for supper. I'll call Zahirah now." Haider turned off the television and went into the bathroom to wash his hands. He heard his mother begin to speak in the phone, "Masa'a AlKair Zahirah, it seems our children had a little get together today, and your little Thayer somehow ended up with Haider's hat. Is there any possibility that we could get it back tonight? I see, shokran. Ma'a ElSalama." She hung up.
"Om, is she going to bring me my hat?"
"Shhh, Haider let me think. She is going to bring it over." Something was wrong, Haider could tell. He sat at the table with his mother.
"Om, what about Hannah?" Hannah was his two-year-old sister. She didn't have an Arabic name because his father's mother was named Hannah and had died two weeks before she was born.
"She is sleeping. Haider say the prayer please."
"In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. Praise be to the Lord of the universe who has created us and made us into tribes and nations that we may know each other, not that we may despise each other. If the enemy incline towards peace, do

thou also incline towards peace, and trust God, for the Lord is the one that heareth and knoweth all things. And the servants of God, most gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility, and when we address them, we say "PEACE."" Haider picked up his fork. The prayer just spoken he had learned in school and he and his family had been saying it ever since the Gulf War began. He looked at his plate, Hummus Bi Tahina. Not his favorite dish, but he learned not to complain. "Om, when is Ab coming home?"
"He should be coming back from the American embassy soon." Haider heard Hannah cry, then a knock on the door, probably Zahira with his hat.
"I'll get Hannah, Om." Haider walked down the hall leading from the kitchen to the room he and his sister shared. He picked her up making sure to get her blanket and hand it to her.
"Laa! Laa! DOWN NOW!" Hannah was still screaming. Haider set her down. He grabbed her hand and led her into the kitchen. From there, he could see his mother talking. Thayer was there. He saw Thayer's hand being held by his mother's. Haider walked in.
"Thayer," Zahirah scolded her son, "What do you say?" She pushed Thayer forward.
"Here's your stupid hat."
"Thayer!" Zahirah popped him on the back.
"I'm sorry." Thayer handed Haider the hat. Another knock came from the door. Haider's mother went to answer it. When she opened the door, her face scrunched into a look of disbelief. She opened the door wider and allowed the people in.
American soldiers filled the small room. There were about four or five of them. One of them, a tall blonde soldier wearing a captain's uniform (Haider recognized it as similar to his father's that he had seen) spoke first, "Hal tatakalm English?"
"Yes, we all can." Haider's mother answered him. Her voice was firm, but her hand shook. "Can we help you?"
"Maybe, we are looking for a Mrs. John Macan and a Mrs. Kaleem Rahmaan. We went to Mrs. Rahmaan's home, but no one answered. Is this the Macan residence?"
"Yes, I am Salimah Macan. And this is Zahirah Rahmaan. What do you need?"
"Well, we are going to have to take you two to our base for questioning. It seems, Mrs. Macan that your husband refused to take a post in the army for this war and is being questioned for treason. Mrs. Rahmaan," the tall man pronounced Zahira, as Haider was accustomed to calling her because she was like an aunt to him despite her son's rudeness, with horrible pronunciation. It was obvious this was his first time in Iraq. " Your husband was found in a group of militant Iraqis. We are going to have to take you also."
"And our children?" Zahirah's voice rose with fear. She was never good at disguising her emotions.
"They can stay here."
"I WILL NOT leave my children alone!" Haider's mother stepped in front of him and Hannah. She did not budge when the soldier tried to move her gently.
"Mrs. Macan, you must come."
"Does my husband know what you are doing? I am an Iraqi citizen! This is disgraceful." Suddenly one of the younger, smaller soldiers pulled his pistol out. Haider's mother saw it and turned calmly to Haider. She looked at him and then to the counter and then at Thayer. Haider took Hannah and crossed the room and tapped Thayer on the shoulder.
"Lets get some dinner." They left the room and stood behind the counter peering into the living room.

Haider quieted Hannah, put her in her highchair, handed her some Hummus Bi Tahina, and joined Thayer at the counter separating the kitchen from the living room.
"Do you think they will take Om and Salimah away?" Thayer's voice shook.
"Quiet and maybe we can hear what's going on." Haider peered above and saw his mother pacing back and forth. He listened carefully.
"Mrs. Macan, you must come with us. It is for your own safety. Who knows how these rebels will react when they find out your husband is a citizen of the United States!" Salimah stopped her pacing right in front of the officer. She slapped him across the face. Zahirah gasped.
"How dare you! These are my family you are speaking of. Besides, they have known that my husband was a citizen of the GREAT," this was spoken with much sarcasm, "America." After giving the soldier a glare she continued her pacing.
"Mrs. Macan, Mrs. Rahmaan please be reasonable." The soldier turned to Zahirah. "Talk to her. We are not the enemy. We are trying to free you." Zahirah looked at Salimah and back at the soldier and then at the kitchen. Somewhere, deep within, she found her strength.
"Sir, I mean no disrespect. However, I do not think what you are doing will help us. I love my husband and he loves me. And I support him, whether or not I fully agree with what he is doing." Salimah looked up from her pacing. She smiled.
"So, you see officer," Salimah looked at all the soldiers, "we cannot go with you. I'll show you the door." Salimah moved toward them, Zahirah right behind her. Whether or not they meant harm, which Haider highly doubted, the young soldier pulled out his pistol again. This time, there was no objection. Haider could not be sure if the commanding officer saw the gun. But either way, he could not be stopped. He fired. Two shots. Loud shots. Hannah screamed. Thayer cringed. Haider watched. First his mother and then Zahirah. The soldier shot again and again. Thayer cried out. He started to run, but Haider grabbed him.
"Laa, don't. If they see you they may shoot you." Thayer tried to break free. Haider showed no emotion. Hannah screamed again.
"Smith! Back in line! Johansson check their pulses." A dark soldier moved to the women. He put a hand on Zahirah's neck then Salimah's.
"None, sir. They are dead."
The soldiers returned to the door, and were about to leave. Smith, the one who shot, spoke up. "Sir, should we take them back to the station?"
"Quiet, no one will say anything to anybody. Got It?" All the soldiers nodded in agreement. They quietly slipped out of the house without a second thought of the children.
Haider, Thayer, and Hannah all waited. Hannah was scared and began to cry softly. Haider moved to her. He gently lifted her out of her highchair and hugged her. "Shhh. Hannah, It's all right." Thayer, instinctively, moved closer. He too, was scared and needed comfort. Haider knew that Hannah was too young to understand to full impact of what just happened, but he would lie to her. Haider walked Hannah, with Thayer close behind, into her room. He laid her down in the crib and sang to her. She settled down on the bed and cuddled close to her blanket.
After she fell asleep Haider and Thayer moved back to the kitchen. Thayer sat at the table and stared at the wall. Haider looked out the window. The American trucks were still there. The soldiers were moving from house to house, searching for something, perhaps information or rebels. Haider didn't care, they had shot his mother, and there was no forgiving that. Haider watched the boy, who days earlier been the hotshot of the town, crumble into the kitchen chair and cry.
Haider walked slowly into the living room, things were immaculate, save the two bodies lying on the floor. Just the way his mother liked it. Haider walked to her and knelt down. He touched her hair and smelled her scent. She used simple flowers from the garden to make the sweet scent she carried with her. He picked up her scarf and rubbed it on his cheek. It was soft and warm. Tears welled up in his eyes as Haider realized the full seriousness of the situation. Both he and his sister, along with Thayer, were now orphans, unless by some miracle their fathers were alive.
Haider didn't know how long Thayer had been beside him, he looked at him. Thayer didn't say a word. There was no insult at the tears pouring out of Haider's eyes. There was no joke, no comment made. Partly because Thayer, too, was crying. Also because he was scared. What would happen to them? Where would they go?
The boys sat quietly. Neither one neither spoke nor moved. They just stared. The silence was broken when the boys heard footsteps and male voices. Thayer stood up, "Ab!"
"No, Thayer, don't!" Haider grabbed Thayer and dragged him to the couch. They crouched behind it. The front door opened. Two soldiers, Smith and Johansson, came in. They took one look at the bodies on the floor and turned their heads in disgust.
"Why me? Why did he ask me to do this?"
"Because, you idiot, you were the one to shoot! I can't believe it!"
"They are just some dirty Iraqis. How much information could they give us?"
"Well, no matter how much. They can't give it to us now. Come on lets get this over with." The two soldiers picked up the bodies and stacked them on a wheelbarrow. Then, instead of leaving, the two went into the kitchen and down the hall. The boys heard their voices fade as they went farther down and rise back up as they came back.
". why we have to take the girl."
"Because you nitwit, she was born in America. She is an American citizen. We can't just leave her here with these filthy Iraqis." Haider closed his eyes. They were taking Hannah. They weren't just taking his mother away, and his mother's best friend, they were taking his sister. They had already taken his father and mother. Now his sister. What did he have left?