The kids did not know what to make of Nour. The right half of her face was badly disfigured by a burn, and none of the muscles worked correctly on that side. The eye there was exposed only through a narrow slit of scar tissue, and when she spoke or frowned (she never smiled), only half of her mouth was involved. The left side of her face would have been handsome except that the expression it carried was one of arrogance. Or maybe it was defensiveness. She tended to look at the ground and was hesitant to make eye contact, but when she did, she looked fierce, like she had just been challenged. When she spoke, her voice was low and serious in tone. The kids found her a little scary.

“First things first,” said Nour, “I’m sure you all want to know about my face.”

None of the kids spoke. Of course they wanted to know about her face, but they weren’t going to say that out loud.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: developmental concept art generated by AI with further tweaks of my own (please note: no AI was used in the actual content of the book)