Friday, February 6, 2009

Triumphant Sun, Pt, 19

Samira checked her pace before the arched gate of the American University. The guards appeared as lethargic as she rememberd, but she still approached with trepidation. She ran a hand along the fringe of her scarf, tucking stray hairs in place. It might be the most liberal campus in Egypt, but propriety might get her through the gauntlet she was about to run. The men at the gate had maintained, unusually for Cairo, scrupulous rules about who could and could not enter. Understandable for a center of moderate, Westernized education that the Muslim Brotherhood would probably dearly love to immolate.

The strange meeting in the car still revolved through her brain. Evan Rochester’s manner had simultaneously put her off and piqued her interest. The memory stuck with her, and she didn't feel certain that he was entirely appealing. If he'd simply tried to seduce her, she might have humored him, but the predatory cleverness in his eyes gave her a sensation she disliked. Still, she might have been too brusque...but the thing was over. Not much point in dwelling on it.

She walked up to the guard, a warm smile carefully placed on her lips, her passport poised between her fingers; in a moment, he had taken down her information and swept her through carelessly. The smoothness of the whole transaction almost made her double back in surprise. Surely he'd want more than name and passport number? If she'd had to convince him a little, lay a hand on his arm - it threw her off balance. It wasn't the '90s any more, she reflected. True, as a English national she wasn't precisely public enemy number one. With a bag full of needles and tubes of liquid, however, it seemed like security theater at its weakest.

Students swirled through the campus in clusters, forming and reforming around the pools of shade. They watched the games that played out on the basketball and tennis courts, clouds of reddish clay dust hovering over the players. The site was familiar to her, though fashions had moved on slightly from tennis whites. Though she knew that the tide of conservative Islam had risen even here, she was surprised by the number of hijabs she saw - none with the full head-to-toe, eye-slit niqab, but everything up to that point.

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