Azra brushed aside Yusef’s bangs, wet from a spiking fever, then kissed his forehead and pulled him close. Soaked as the fever passed, he followed her to the three- foot wide bathroom, careful to choose the one at the rear of the plane. Like the dutiful mother she waited outside for what seemed an eternity, wondering what was taking him so long. He was staring into those eyes so seductive they could slay armies if he hadn’t been born a boy. “Yusef!” Azra was calling to him. “Are you all right in there?” Before he emerged from the tiny cabinet he had to tuck himself in, conceal his genitals, ones he had no use for, ones he would have gladly relinquished in the battle against non-conformity. Should he tell her that she had adopted a person of no known origin, of no known species, a person whose gender was inwardly expressed and outwardly imprisoned in a body so alien and intrusive? He struggled with the door trying to manage the lock. When it finally clicked open, he walked out head lowered, wearing shame like a uniform that hung too loosely and he longed for the day when he did not feel the residue of commands that ruled his life in the madrassa, where the vanguard of Qutb taught the seven attributes of lordship, constancy, comprehensiveness, balance, positivity, realism and monotheism. He knew it was only a matter of time before the boys his age signed up to pay the mortal price in the name of Allah. This life, the one he planned to live now, had no real meaning, according to the Mullahs. Although he found that hard to believe, he harbored the warning like a bird in captivity nursing a broken wing and held it close to his breast for honor and protection.