At Metro Center an older man with a stern face, dark beard and large leather bag shows me a paper with Dupont Circle underlined. He speaks little English. I play tour guide. He follows me on the train. He seems anxious. He slowly unzips his bag as I ask where he is from. "Baghdad." For a moment I fear what is in his bag and envision tomorrow's headline: Metro Explosion! Instead, he takes out a book and says, "Author." I point to my manuscript and say, "Author, too." He lifts my arm and kisses my hand. We smile goodbye.

Nancy Barone Cain


On the road, construction workers shout at me while I wait to pass "Slow" signs. "Damn foreigners," a lady mutters at the checkout counter when I politely stop her from cutting in line. I get funny looks when strolling with my European mother. I lament the changes in people after 9/11. I am half English, half Sudanese, veiled and Muslim. As I pack away groceries, a man asks me if I need help. I am uplifted! "Take care and pray for me," he calls out when thanked. "Hail Mary, Sister." Oh God, he thinks I'm a nun.

Noura Harran


Find a way to give insight into your life in under 100 words. Authors of selected entries will be notified and paid $100. Send text (accompanied by a home phone number) via e-mail (, fax (202-334-5587) or mail (Style, Life Is Short, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071).