Siobhan glanced in the mirror and was saw only her freckled face glancing back, the rest of her costumed and covered. She set up the cool marble stairs, listening to her footsteps echo off the rock.
When she emerged she stood blinded in the garden of the Grand Mosque. In the polished marble of the floor she could see the faint reflections of the domes and minarets that jutted into the blue sky. The mosque was a startling white, and in the midday sun it was glistening, both beautiful and intimidating, and too much to take in at once. Siobhan stood, looking at the mosque, but seeing the same blinding white of snowy fields of home.
“As-salaam alakum,” a guard greeted, drawing Siobhan from her reverie.
“Wa alakum salaam,” she responded. Siobhan smiled as she walked toward the courtyard. Foreign languages had been the one area in school where she never excelled, and even after the overnight flight that had passed over Iceland, Europe, and Syria, it was surreal to hear herself uttering phrases in Arabic.