Chapter 3

Hey everyone! Hope you enjoyed the last chapter! Please review and let me know what you think of this chapter! I apologize for the delay. God Bless :)

-Seigur333

Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan

Once the plane touched down upon the runway I eagerly shifted in my seat, waiting for the plane to reach the gate. I gazed out the window, feeling a knot twist in the pit of my stomach. What if I wasn't meant to do this? What if I screwed up? What if...?

Cassie calm down.

I took a deep breath as the plane came to a stop and the lights came on. I unloaded my suitcase from the overhead compartment and waited to make my way down the aisle, pulling out a sheet of paper with the name of my contact written down on it.

As I waited my turn, I slipped on a headscarf, not wanting to attract any undue attention.

When it was my turn to exit, I swiftly made my way down the aisle, lugging my suitcase behind me and hurrying into the airport.

I spotted a woman with a flower patterned headscarf and a black Shalwar Kameez* holding up a sign that had CASSIE V. scribbled on it.

I quickly made my way over to her.

"Hello I'm Cassie Vandecol" I said.

"Hello Ms. Vandecol, welcome to Afghanistan. I'm Maryam Khan" she said in perfect English, shaking my hand.

"Thank you and it's so nice to meet you."

"Please come with me." She gestured for me to follow her and I tagged along obediently as we made our way out of the airport to where a van was waiting for us.

I slid into the van while Maryam got in on the other side and soon we were off through the streets of the city. I took in the sites of people strolling along or riding bicycles, while others were selling goods along the street and shouting to potential customers. We drove by a magnificent mosque with it's roof paint a deep blue that glinted off the sun.

"That's the Blue Mosque" Maryam pointed out. "It was built in the 15th century."

"It's magnificent" I replied and I wasn't just saying that to be polite. The building, with it's beautiful colored tiles was one of the most impressive works of art I'd seen yet.

Finally, the driver pulled up in front of a range of apartment buildings.

"This is where you'll be staying. The NGO office is just down the way."

"It's nice to know I won't have to walk that far" I replied.

Maryam led me to an apartment on the third floor, pulling out a key from her handbag. She opened the door for me and I stepped into the apartment. It was modestly sized with a bedroom off to the right, a small kitchen with a table and living room with a couch and television.

"I hope you find it comfortable here" Maryam said.

"Thank you, I'm sure I will."

Maryam handed me the key and said "If you need anything you have my number and there's a list of numbers on the table in case you have an emergency or something in the house breaks down. The contacts are all people who's English is very good."

"Thank you, I'll be sure to use it if I need it."

"Well then I'll leave you to get settled. Welcome again to Afghanistan and I hope you have a pleasant stay." She then showed herself out of the apartment and I was left alone. I went to the window and gazed upon the rush of traffic in the street below and the mosque in the distance.

"We're not in the United States anymore Cassie" I chuckled to myself.

I opened the window to let some of the fresh air in and a wave of noise from honking horns and shouting people assaulted my ears though I found the noise strangely comforting as I unpacked.

Once all my clothes were placed in the dresser and my toiletries were placed in the bathroom, I settled down in front of the TV, seeing as I didn't have to be at work until tomorrow. I quickly flipped through the channels, most of which were in Dari. After awhile I gave up on trying to find an English channel and gazed out the window at the blue mosque. I was seized with the sudden urge to see it up close and before I knew it had grabbed the keys and headed out the door for a walk.

As I strode past people bustling here and there, a few people stopped to look after me, though if it was because of curiosity or malice I couldn't tell.

When I arrived outside the blue mosque families were lounging around on picnic tables and children were running around, playing with joyful smiles on their faces.

I gazed up at the beautiful tiled structure, marveling at how much effort it must have taken to create such a beautiful place.

I looked over and all of a sudden I a young boy hurling towards me, being chased by a a man dressed up in the uniform of the Afghan armed forces, who was shouting something in Dari to him.

The boy looked frightened and anger boiled in me. Why should they be chasing and frightening a small child?

All of a sudden the solider caught him and raised his hand to strike him.

"Don't you dare lay a hand on him you hear me!" I hurried over and grabbed the soldiers hand that held the boy and pushed his finger back until it hurt, a move I had learned in my self defense classes.

The soldier cried out in pain and released the boy, who darted away.

"What do you think your doing foreigner?!" a man dressed similarly in uniform, who I assumed to be the other soldiers companion, called in English angrily, stomping up to us.

"You were going to hurt that boy!"

"That boy is a thief!"

"And that makes him worthy to be struck! Is this what you call justice? Frightening a child and abusing him?"

"He stole money from us."

"Then here" I said, pulling out some Afghanis and angrily tossing them at him "If that's all your concerned about, you should be ashamed of yourself!" I then turned on my heel and strode away.

*The Shalwar Kameez is a common garment worn my women in South Asia. It consists of a long tunic over loose, comfortable pants.