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The Girl in the Red Hoodie, Chapter 1

The Magazine Article

January 23rd 2019.

'Years ago I created a superhero known as Night Arrow. Supposedly Night Arrow had superpowers, but this was all a trick. People believed Night Arrow could see in the dark, that he had super strength whenever it was night, and that he was an amazing archer - having superhuman skill with a bow.'

'But these skills were products of something else.'

'Night Arrow could see in the dark because he had night vision glasses.'

'He went to the gym 4 days per week doing strength building exercises and practiced a variety of different martial arts, which allowed him to overcome opponents through a combination of strength and skill. Because he was only a vigilante at night, people in the story simply came to believe that his powers were only good at night.'

'Lastly before doing an important archery shot that would later astound investigators at his skill, he would case the target 2 to 3 weeks in advance and then practice shooting at that specific distance for at least 2 weeks. The same distance, the same bow, the same arrows. So when it came time to perform the trick shot he had already shot it hundreds of times at the exact same distance. This is how normal archers perform a specific trick shot, they practice that trick shot until they are really good at it.'

'Now I am no vigilante. I am almost 40. I have a wife and a son. I have no motivation to become such a thing. Too many other things to do.'

'But in a story, a person so motivated could actually do these things.'

The girl in the red hoodie set down the magazine on her lap and gazed out the window of the TTC bus to watch the snowy streets and homes of Toronto going by. She didn't do archery herself, she was just reading the magazine for English class. Supposed to write a paper about a magazine article and she had picked the archery magazine off the shelf because she had never done archery. And she certainly had never done any trick shots. Never even touched a bow or arrow.

Girls in Saudi Arabia didn't do things like archery. But she lived in Canada now, so maybe it was something she could do.

The author of the magazine article went on to explain how to practice various different kinds of trick shots, pushing the idea it is only a trick shot because non-archers see it as being difficult. Shooting at a moving target was simply a matter of patience, timing, and practice. Shooting while being in motion was like a dance. You had to practice your footwork. You repeat the dance again and again until you get good at it.

She was reminded of boxing. One of the few things Ab had let her do when she arrived in Toronto. That and not having to wear an abaya, niqab or burqa any more when in public. She sometimes wore a hijab, but mostly on special occasions.

"An immigrant should learn to defend themselves," said Ab many times. She recalled him arguing with Mama about it. True, she was just a girl, but so much more the reason for her to learn. After September 11th the attacks on Muslims had skyrocketed across North America. She hadn't even been born until 2003, years after the infamous attacks. But still Ab thought people might attack her, and so Ab taught her boxing when they moved to Canada when she was 12.

For the longest time she wasn't allowed outside by herself. Always Mama or Ab were with her. They weren't used to Canadian society and were so worried about fitting in.

"Canadians are nice people. Very polite," said Ab once. "But they're not all nice and polite. Some of them can be violent and filled with hate. Those are the ones you need to worry about."

The haters.

Her stop was up ahead so she rang the bell to get off the bus. She took her black gloves out of her red coat pockets and put them on, not wanting her hands to get cold in the short walk from the bus stop.

She arrived at Froggy's Boxing Gym, with the mural of the frog wearing boxing gloves on the exterior wall. Ab had bought the gym in 2015 when they had arrived in Canada. The gym's previous owner was Greek and old, ready to retire and the gym's popularity had dropped in recent years as most young people wanted to do martial arts instead. The business had been losing money. So Ab had made the owner a good offer and bought the business. Then he got the word out amongst the Muslim community, repeating his mantra:

"An immigrant should learn to defend themselves."

Ab kept posters of Muhammad Ali up on the walls of the gym. He especially liked the ones with quotes. Some of the quotes were about religion too.

"I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace." - Muhammad Ali.

This went well with Ab's Muslim and non-Muslim customers. Everyone liked Muhammad Ali in Froggy's Boxing Gym.

Ab also liked to quote Malcolm X speeches, another Muslim from America. He didn't put any posters up of Malcolm X, but he would quote him in conversations. Malcolm X believed in judging people based on their actions, a belief that was perpetuated in Islam.

All these things Ab tried to impress upon her, his only child. Quotes from the Quran. Quotes by Muhammad Ali. Quotes from Malcolm X. Sometimes he would even quote Barack Obama, even though he was not Muslim.

Ab tried hard. Life was hard. Being an immigrant in a foreign country was very hard. But still life was good because Toronto was a good city and the people were generally very good. 'Toronto the Good' it was sometimes called.

She had had to learn to speak English, and Ab and Mama insisted on speaking English as much as possible, even at home. Not like the rest of her family back in Saudi Arabia. Not like Jid or Em back home.

Jid hated everything to do with America, which included English, but also included white people, black people, Muhammad Ali, and this had a been a major breaking point between Jid and Ab. Ab loved boxing and everything to do with it. He had competed when he was younger, against Jid's wishes. He loved watching old boxing matches of Muhammad Ali. But Jid hated all these things and so had cut his eldest son out of his estate, giving everything to his second son instead.

Em had been the son Jid had always wanted. Obedient. Hated America. Hated everything to do with America, mostly just to please Jid. A suitable successor for the family's wealth.

There was the other problem too. The grand-daughter. After she was born in 2003 Mama had complications. She would never be able to have more kids. She had overheard Jid and Ab arguing about it more than once. Ab had no male heir and Jid wanted the family's wealth to stay in the male line. Meanwhile Em had three boys. An heir and two spares. Everything Jid wanted.

So Ab and Mama had come to Canada with a tiny share of the family's wealth and bought the business, chasing Ab's dream of operating a boxing gym like the old guy Mickey from the Rocky movies. Another staple of entertainment in their family. When Ab and Mama arrived in Toronto one of the first things he did was take Mama to an ice rink, just like the scene in the first Rocky movie.

They lived in an apartment building on Thorncliffe Park Drive. It sounds fancy, but it wasn't. It was one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Toronto. Possibly the poorest.

The high school, grocery store, library and other amenities were all nearby. As was the sewage treatment plant on the west side of Millwood Road, down a hill and surrounded by trees, but if the wind was blowing from that direction you could still smell the stench.

Every day after school she would get on the 25 TTC bus and come to Froggy's Boxing Gym. Every day she would work a mop and bucket and do other chores, helping Ab to keep the place clean for customers. At 9 PM they would close up and go home, where Mama would have a late supper waiting for them.

She didn't talk to the customers. She kept her head down, her hood up over her head like it was a hijab, and her earphones on, listening to audio books while she worked. She was just the girl in the red hoodie who cleaned. People didn't bother her and she didn't bother them. Stay low, stay out of trouble.

Today was no different. She got to the gym, stowed her new magazine in her locker, put her headphones on, and then started mopping. In that order. Today she was listening to an audiobook about French for Beginners. Now that she had a good grasp of English she had decided to try French too. Canada had two official languages, and to be bilingual in Canada meant you were basically guaranteed a job. Usually a good paying government job. So French it was.

If enough people left early, Ab would give her a boxing lesson. Sometimes a longer lesson, but usually they were pretty short. Less than half an hour. Every time he would focus on teaching something different. Uppercuts. Combinations. How to infight. Counterpunching. Footwork. Even lessons on how to cheat.

Ab usually discouraged cheating. Boxing as a sport had rules. Things you shouldn't do, but sometimes boxers did anyway to get an edge in an important fight. In a grudge match there was usually a story of some sort, often with one boxer who liked to cheat a bit and would get reprimanded by the referee. The other boxer in comparison never cheated. Didn't mean they didn't know how, simply that they chose not to. The good vs evil situation went well for the audience. Creates interest. Grudge matches were good for ticket sales.

Ab would get emotionally upset watching a boxing match where one boxer was cheating and getting the upper hand. He couldn't stand the cheating, but he seemed to really enjoy the matches at the same time due to the heightened drama.

But he knew that the referees and judges would ignore a certain amount of cheating. There was big money in fights that had more drama. If the two boxers never cheated it was seen as boring.

But Ab taught her how to cheat. Not because he wanted his only child cheating in a boxing match. It was because he was teaching her boxing for self defense.

Martial artists could do whatever they wanted in a fight. There was no rules. But Ab didn't know how to teach karate or kung fu or anything of that sort. He only knew how to teach boxing. So since boxing has rules, teaching her how to break those rules to get the upper hand in a fight was important.

To her it seemed rather useless. When was she ever going to be in a fight? Learning French on the other hand. That was something that could help get her a job. And jobs in Canada for a young Muslim woman were hard to come by. Working at McDonalds was her best bet presently.

There were two McDonalds near home. One near the Ontario Science Centre, just north of the Sunny Foodmart. The other was on Pape Avenue, just a few blocks north of Froggy's. She could get a job there in the summer maybe. Possibly earn enough to get a new cellphone.

It was after 8:35 now. There was still a few people left in the gym. Looks like no boxing lesson today.

Ab waved her over. She went to him and took off her headphones so she could hear better.

"Yasmeena, I want you to run an errand for me. I ordered some books for customers at the Indigo at the Eaton's Centre. I need you to pick them up for me. I have called them to let them know you will be there to pick them up for me. There is a desk near the escalator. Just tell them your name and that you are picking up books for me."

"Okay Ab," said Yasmeena. "See you later!"

"You know we are in Canada now right? You can call me Papa instead. You don't have to keep calling me Ab." This old refrain.

"I know Ab - I mean Papa." She smiled vaguely, teasing him. "But you will always be my Ab right?"

He smiled, eyes of happiness. "Sure, sure. Now shoo. And no dallying at the mall or else your supper will get cold."

She put the mop and bucket away, and got her things from her locker. She had to wait a bit for the 25 bus to take her to Pape Subway, but once on the subway she read some more of her magazine.

Archery seemed pretty boring to just be reading about it in a magazine. She supposed boxing must be boring too if it was just words on a page. Nothing like watching a fight on TV. Or a live fight, although she had never seen a real live fight. Not even in the gym. You would think boxing gyms had fights all the time, but the truth was it was only sparring with protective Everlast headgear. Not quite the same thing.

She switched subway lines at Yonge-Bloor Station and went south to the Dundas subway station. The mall would be closing soon so she needed to hurry.

She got to the Indigo in the nick of time. Went to the help desk and got the books for Ab. The store closed in the meantime so the staff had to hold the door open a bit longer to let her out.

The other stores in the mall were all closed now too. Only a few people still there, mostly employees going home, and everyone was heading to an exit or towards the subway. Security guards were watching people with a tiny air of suspicion. It was quiet except for the sound of people walking hurriedly and felt more than a bit weird walking through the nearly empty mall, like she was somewhere she wasn't meant to be.

There was a thunk sound and all the lights went off. Up ahead, a security guard pulled out his radio and started talking.

"Hey Bill, why are the lights off?" he said into his radio.

Yasmeena kept walking. This was none of her business. Maybe they were closing the mall and someone flipped the wrong switch. Or maybe the hydro went out, as Canadians called their electricity hydro. Nothing to do with her.

One of the stragglers in the mall was walking by the security guard when he spontaneously spun on his heel and whipped out something long and black looking like a metal cudgel. He struck the security guard in the head, who immediately crumpled to the ground like he was dead.

The radio went skittering across the floor, ending up near the doors to the Old Navy.

Yasmeena froze. She didn't know what to do. She had never seen anyone go down like that before, not even at the boxing gym. It felt like something you might see in a movie, like Die Hard. The guard looked like he could be alive or dead. So hard to tell.

There was another straggler too. A Starbucks employee. She just stood there like Yasmeena was, frozen. Deer in the headlights.

That was the English idiom, right? Yasmeena had only ever seen deer at the petting zoo at High Park. She had no idea what deer did in headlights, but freezing still while your heart felt like it might explode from the pounding in your chest seemed more accurate.

"In a fight you need to control your emotions," Ab had once said. "The person who loses control of their emotions can become bewildered and lose the fight. Being big and strong helps, but being in control is more important to survival. The first step is breathing."

Yasmeena forced herself to breathe. Time seemed to have slowed down, even though everything seemed to be happening so fast. She felt calmer now.

The man with the black cudgel raised it again and moved into position to beat the security guard to death. If he wasn't dead already, he soon would be.

She forced her feet to move. Everything felt slow and deliberate, but she moved like the wind across the hallway.

The man had on sunglasses late at night in winter and what looked to be a brand new Blue Jays hat. Her fist impacted with his chin so hard his sunglasses went flying off and his hat was barely holding on to his head. The black cudgel flew from his hand.

Left jab, left jab. Straight punch. Just like Ab had taught her.

The man barely understood what was happening. He was reeling backwards. He raised his arms up to protect his face.

Uppercut to the chin, sneaking under his defenses. Left jab, left jab - lower both times, in the chest and ribs. Force him to choose where to defend himself.

The man lowered his arms, fearful of another uppercut and more of these low jabs.

Straight punch, right over his defenses, this time hitting him in the nose. Blood spattered. The man cried out and swung back at her, a wild swing that grazed her hoodie. She didn't even bother to duck or fade from it.

"Know when not to fade, bob or weave," said Ab on multiple occasions. "Sometimes the other boxer throws a bad punch. Don't waste your energy dodging something that would either never hit or wouldn't even hurt that much."

Straight punch, straight punch. More jabs. His defenses got too high so she landed another uppercut. He clearly had no idea how to block properly. His elbows were too far to the sides and it was leaving a big wedge shape up the middle that was perfect for uppercuts to sneak through.

He tried kicking at her, but she faded and realized something. So far she hadn't cheated at all. He was trying to box like she was and has realized he had legs and could kick, but doing so had unleashed a whole new bag of tricks at her disposal.

She feinted a punch at his head, forcing him to cover up, but then she moved in and stepped on his right foot with her left foot, hindering his movement.

Left jab, left jab. Keep the attacks high. He should be expecting either a straight punch or an uppercut, wherever he was most vulnerable.

She got in real close, so close she could have clinched him, and instead punched him below the belt in the lower back. The kidney punch.

He groaned and went down. She doubted that she had ruptured a kidney, but it definitely hurt.

He was leaning over and the back of his head was now exposed. Rabbit punch to the back of the head. Ab said that a good rabbit punch could cause a spinal cord injury. A really nasty one could even paralyze a person for life. He had taught her where to punch on a dummy, but she had never actually performed one before on a real person. They were simply too dangerous.

The man went down. He wasn't unconscious, but he wasn't getting up or moving either.

It was a Technical Knockout. A TKO. The doctor would have called the fight. The boxing association would have barred her for excessive cheating. Stepping on someone's foot, kidney punches and rabbit punches. All illegal under boxing rules.

Still she had won. And he was bigger than her. By amateur weight classes he was probably a light heavyweight. Between 179 and 200 pounds. Meanwhile at 139 pounds she was a women's lightweight. She would have to gain about 3 pounds just to be a welterweight.

She had won, but it was still dark in here. The only light source was from the skylights and it was after 9 PM in January. It was just a grim grey haze of light, the kind of grey haze a big city like Toronto never loses even at night thanks to all the light pollution.

Thank Allah she had won.

Then the panic set in. Her parents were immigrants and she had just been involved in some sort of criminal activity. Canada didn't look favourably on immigrants who commit crimes or even are remotely associated with crime. They could be sent back to Saudi Arabia. Ab could lose his business. She could go to prison. Any number of things could happen.

The other straggler had run off. She was nowhere to be seen. There was nobody else around. The lights were off. Nobody was coming.

She checked the security guard for a pulse. He was alive. She grabbed her Indigo shopping bag of books and ran for the subway.

Everything was dark, but even so she kept her red hoodie tight around her face. She put on her gloves, hiding the blood on her fingers.

When she got to the glass doors to the subway she checked her reflection in the glass. She didn't see any blood. If there was any it would hopefully blend in with her red coat and red hoodie.

The electricity was still on in the subway platform and there were people milling around, confusion. From the stairwell leading up to Yonge-Dundas Square she could hear police sirens. A lot of police sirens. Something was going on, and she got the distinct impression the security guard she had saved was not the only person involved. This felt like it was bigger than her small fight.

What happened to Bill, the other security guard who should have answered his radio? Was he dead? Was this a terrorist attack? It wasn't Muslims, the man she had fought was white. White Nationals? Trumpites?

She got on the subway and took it north towards St Clair Station. Everyone was looking at their phones, trying to get information about what was happening. The wifi inside the subway tunnel was so slow however. It kept timing out. It was basically useless.

When they exited the underground section of the subway near Rosedale Station people were able to use their phone data because the Rosedale subway platform was in the open air, but the CBC and other websites were saying it was a possible terrorist attack. Details were sketchy and few.

She got off the subway at St Clair Station and caught the 88 bus heading east. Excellent timing, she didn't have to wait for the bus to arrive. The bus went through the rich neighbourhood of Leaside and then cut south on Millwood Road, past the sewage treatment plant and then to Overlea and Thorncliffe Park Drive.

Just sitting there on the bus, trying to be calm, was nervewracking. The white people on the bus kept looking at her and other dark skinned people. They were almost accusatory looks, but nobody said anything.

But the man she had fought was white. White with red hair. Brown eyes. Freckles. About 190 pounds. Broken nose. Possible ruptured kidney. Possible spinal injury.

Yasmeena looked out the window and stifled a laugh. It wouldn't do to laugh when everyone else thought there had been a terrorist attack by Muslims. They didn't know yet that it was white people. She couldn't tell them either.

When she got home Ab and Mama were watching CBC Breaking News.

"Sorry I am late. The subway was-"

"Were you down there?" asked Ab, he looked at her frantically to make sure she was okay.

She felt out of breath, but full of adrenaline at the same time. "I was on the subway Papa. Have they said what happened?"

"Somekind of terrorist attack. Multiple people dead. There was a gun battle at Toronto City Hall. Bunch of police are dead too, but they killed most of the attackers. They aren't saying who did it however."

Dead? This was much bigger than she thought. She could have died too. Who knows what that red-haired man had planned to do.

"Please don't be Muslims or ISIS. That is the last thing we need," said Mama. She looked over at Yasmeena. "I put your supper in the microwave. You just have to turn it on."

"Thanks Mama. I think it was white people," she said without thinking, trying to ease Mama's worries. She headed into the kitchen.

Ab and Mama both looked in her direction, but couldn't see her thanks to the wall in the way. Couldn't see her hands were shaking. "Why do you think that?" asked Mama.

Yasmeena took her time answering. She took her gloves off and washed the blood off her hands in the sink. None of it was hers. She made a bunch of beeping noises with her shaking hand on the microwave and then turned it on.

"Umm... has the CBC been telling people not to assume it was Muslims?" she said, stalling for time and hoping to find a logical reason.

"Yes."

"I think that means the terrorists are white. They don't want to just say the attackers are white yet, because right now everything is so confusing. So instead the CBC is trying to confirm the attackers are definitely white, but the police aren't saying much for them to go on. The CBC always likes to have their facts straight before they run a story. So by telling people that the terrorists might not be Muslim they are giving us a clue it was white people without actually saying it was white people. Plus it is their way of trying to prevent any kind of panic and racially motivated attacks."

"I am glad they are teaching you something useful at that highschool," said Ab.

"They don't teach that."

Ab handed the remote control to Mama. He rarely gave it up to another person. "No? Then I guess you learned all that reasoning from me or your Mama. Either way, I am going to bed. You two can stay up if you want, but I have a feeling tomorrow will be a long day."

Yasmeena ate her supper while Mama watched the CBC. Mostly they just repeated the same news. There was no eyewitnessses yet. Few details. They were talking to experts, scholars who studied these kinds of attacks. It was 23 people dead, but then the number got raised to 28. Then 34. After midnight the police revealed the terrorists were white.

Finally. What a relief. Mama could breath easier now.

Mama turned off the TV and went to bed. Yasmeena went to bed too, but it was very difficult to fall asleep. She kept going through the events in her head. Every action. Every punch. Questioning whether she had made the right decisions.


January 24th 2019

In the morning it was on almost every station. People were calling it the January 23rd attacks, or the 1/23 attacks.

It was simultaneous attacks on Yonge-Dundas Square next to the Eaton's Centre, Nathan Philips Square in front of Toronto City Hall, and a third attack on the CN Tower. Terrorists had taken tourists and staff hostage at the top of tower. Police were trying to figure out how to deal with the terrorists trapped in the tower and rescue the hostages. A helicopter rescue seemed too risky.

They were apparently White Nationalists who were upset at the federal government. They wanted Prime Minister Trudeau to resign and were aligning themselves with the Yellow Vest protests happening around the world.

Oil. Oil and gasoline prices. That was what it came down to.

The oil pipeline across Afghanistan to the border with China. The oil fields of Iraq. And now carbon taxes on oil and gasoline. What had started the Yellow Vest protests in France was carbon taxes on gasoline, and similar sympathy protests around the world. People upset about gasoline prices. But the people protesting had aligned themselves with White Nationalists and Trumpites. They were blaming immigrants for their problems. As if immigrants don't also need gasoline for their cars.

Many of the terrorists had gotten away too. They had escaped to black vans parked behind Toronto City Hall and there was very little footage of them because the power outage downtown had taken all the security cameras out too. Only the terrorists trapped in the CN Tower with hostages remained.

Then more breaking news.

A video. An unbelievable video. A girl in a hoodie in a dark shaky cellphone video, boxing one of the terrorists... and kicking his ass.

"Whoa, look at that uppercut!" said Ab. "Are you watching this? This is crazy."

The girl from Starbucks. She must have made the video and ran off before Yasmeena noticed.

"What! A kidney punch and a rabbit punch. That man is in the hospital!" shouted Ab. It was like he was watching a Pay-Per-View fight, getting really excited. "Yasmeena, you should take pointers from this girl. She knows how to handle herself."

Yasmeena felt like her chest might burst. She didn't know whether to laugh, cry or puke. How could Ab not recognize her? Sure, the video was dark and grainy, but was it wilful ignorance? To her eyes it was clearly herself. Instantly recognizable. Everyone who knows her should be recognizing her.

Especially Ab. He trained her. He should instantly know his own daughter that he trained, right?

Except Yasmeena had never been in a real fight ever before. Never thrown a real punch at a person. Always the punching bags or dummies. Always calm and collected. And timid. Way too timid according to Ab.

But in the video she was like an adrenaline-filled tigress. A blur of footwork and punches, always wearing down the man's defenses without mercy, always on him even as he continued to back away. And then she stepped on his foot so he couldn't get away. Couldn't escape. It was like watching a butcher slaughter a goat. The goat was helpless.

The CBC kept repeating the video, now with added commentary. People were weighing in on her boxing technique. She must by an Olympic hopeful. Or a member of an underground fight club.

"The first rule of fight club, we don't talk about fight club," joked one of the commentators.

Or she was a vigilante. She must have seen a bunch of superhero movies like Avengers, Batman and Unbreakable and had been training for years for this moment. She must have had forewarning about the terrorist attack. Or did she? Was she just in the right place at the right time?

The terrorist was in the hospital, but he was talking to police. He was the only terrorist who had been captured alive. The security guard was alive too. She had saved his life.

People were comparing her to the three Americans who stopped a terrorist on a French train bound for Paris years ago in 2015. She should get a medal, said some.

She should be charged as a vigilante, said one. An older white man with curly moustaches. He was instantly dislikable.

Yasmeena was finding it difficult to breathe. She went to the bathroom and sat down on the toilet. She focused on her breathing to calm herself down.

This was insane. One day she was plain boring Yasmeena. Timid, according to Ab. The next day she was a world famous boxing vigilante.

She took out her cellphone and started looking around online. The video was crazy viral. A social media blitzkrieg. It was all over Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. People were saying she had broke the internet. How had she broken the internet? It was still working, wasn't it? People should stop calling it that. Nobody is breaking the internet. They are just idiots.

For a moment she steadied herself. She could start a secret Twitter or Instagram account. She would be more popular than Trump or Beyonce. No, that was foolish. They would track her and find out who she really is. She can never take credit for this. It would hurt her family too much. She was lucky she had not been caught or recognized yet. The security cameras in the Eaton's Centre had been shut off during the power outage during the attack on Yonge-Dundas Square and the footage from that day deleted. That was the doing of the terrorists, and it was the only reason she had not been recognized.

This needed to stay a secret. Never again.

The red hoodie was in her laundry basket. She should probably burn it. It might have the man's blood or DNA on it. Mama might notice if she does the laundry. Her coat too. She needed to clean it too. She went to her room and stuffed the hoodie inside an old pillowcase and then hid the pillowcase inside her old luggage from Saudi Arabia at the back of her closet. Then she found her red coat and cleaned it with a sponge, being very careful to not miss any sections. If she stopped wearing her coat it would be seen as unusual.

None of this Peter Parker business of hiding his Spider-Man suit in an all too obvious trunk in the closet. Anyone even looking in the closet just had to look at the trunk and wonder what was inside.

Nobody cared about unused luggage shoved at the back of the closet however.

She could figure out what to do with the red hoodie later.

She found a blue and white hijab in a drawer. Good time to wear this. Nobody would suspect the innocent Muslim girl. Least of all Ab or Mama. Plus it was still really cold outside, so she needed something to keep her head warm.

It had become abundantly clear from the TV and social media. Everyone thought the Girl in the Red Hoodie was white. You couldn't really tell from the dark grainy video what she looked like, you could barely tell that the hoodie was red, but everyone clearly thought she was white. Or Asian.

It was the first time racism had ever worked in her favour.

End of Chapter One.




Arabic Words

  • Ab - Papa
  • Mama - Mama (I know, easy right?)
  • Jid - Grandpa
  • Em - Uncle
  • Hijab - Head Scarf

    Boxing Terminology

  • Jab - A quick, sharp punch, usually delivered with the non-dominant hand.
  • Straight Punch - Sometimes called a cross, a straight punch is a more powerful punch usually delivered with the dominant hand.
  • Uppercut - A punch delivered with an upward motion and the arm bent, similar to a Hook.
  • Kidney Punch - A punch to the lower back region where the kidneys are located, capable of causing serious internal injury.
  • Rabbit Punch - A sharp punch to the back of the neck / base of the head, capable of causing a spinal injury.

    Notes

    Yes, I am totally referencing an article I am currently writing for "Archery Focus Magazine" at the beginning of this story. It hasn't been published yet, but it is to be an article about how to practice archery trick shots.

    I am planning to include approx. 5 new Arabic words in every chapter of this book. 20 chapters x 5 words = 100 Arabic words by the end of the book. It isn't the same as learning the actual language, but I am exploring this as I think narrative storytelling can be a great way to teach people new languages as it allows you to slowly and progressively introduce the reader to more words.

    Arabic, Russian and Hindi are on my list of languages I want to learn. As a polyglot, I always enjoy learning new languages and new words. I am using this web series as a way to learn 100 new words.

    I probably won't be doing Boxing Terminology for every chapter. There really isn't 100 boxing terms to learn, it is a rather short list for a person to become fluent in boxing terms.

    My target audience for this book is young women. So I guess this is technically my first "Young Adult" book as I normally write fantasy books aimed at adults. "Young Adult Fiction" (YA) is a category of fiction written specifically for readers from 12 to 18 years of age. However while the genre is targeted to teenagers, about half of YA readers are adults over the age of 19. 'The Hunger Games' and 'Children of Blood and Bone' are examples of similar books aimed at the YA audience, with a target audience of young women, but are enjoyable for everyone.

    You may have noticed, yes, I have included specific references to places in Toronto. The Indigo at the Eaton's Centre is my favourite bookstore. I have gone to the subway stations, ridden the buses, and visited the McDonalds mentioned. I live in Leaside, very close to the Muslim community in Thorncliffe.

    "Froggy's Boxing Gym" isn't real. There is no "Froggy's Boxing Gym" anywhere, to my knowledge. I seem to recall seeing a place with a similar name years ago, but it was shut down and doesn't exist any more. So Froggy's Boxing Gym is a fabrication on my part and only partially based on a real boxing gym that used to exist.


    Want More of this Web Series?

    Okay, so here is the deal with this web series. I have a lot of ideas for short stories, fables and full length novels, but I don't have time to write them all. It is one of the reasons why I write fables so often, because I have so many ideas for stories and I know I don't have time to write them all, so instead any story that can be made into a fable, I prefer to just make into a fable.

    With The Girl in the Red Hoodie however I have a full book with 20 chapters planned out, but I have to decide how to allocate my time as I only have so much. So here is what I need you, the reader, to do. I need you to send me an email, tweet me on twitter, etc and say something like "Hey Charles, I really liked 'The Girl in the Red Hoodie'. Please write more of that web series!"

    And then I will allocate more time to writing another chapter in the series. Scroll up and on the left you will find my email and twitter info in the Contact Info section.

    The more people who tweet me, email me, the better. Knowing that this web series is reaching an audience who appreciates what they are reading encourages me to keep writing more. So if I get 20 people tweeting me, asking for more of The Girl in the Red Hoodie then this book will get written pretty quickly.

    Have a good day!

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