Day 6: Rum and Resin

The jeweler’s house, at the bottom of the incline, boiled like a cauldron. Lonan plaited tough thread and rum-mixed resin through Shay’s sweaty hair, patterning crushed cockle shells in braids away from Shay’s hairline. His fingerwork was tight and precise.

Day 25: Tumbleweed Girl

The yard behind the atrium was empty of the harem children and their carers. Only half of the parakeet cages swung outside, empty of birds. The only noise between the evening gusts was their metal hooks, clicking and creaking on their lines. A single white-robed woman stood in the yard’s center, standing on a block to pull the cages down.

Day 8: Biting Thistle

Umi didn’t know any of her brothers well. She knew they carried the name of Khurshid Azar, which Umi was not allowed to—Siskin girl, you’re a Siskin, they’re Azars, they’ll be Azar men one day. She knew, to some degree, they were named for a king and she was named for a concubine, but it didn't bother her yet. All Umi did know was that, when it came to her full-blooded brother, she wanted to be him.