Jacinta, however, was nothing but Jacinta, a woman and a worker who could couple with the city men or a visiting stranger, and at the end of nine months, out of her belly would drop nothing but a stone.
Excitement tingled in Kushi. She had always assumed the stories to be ways to cheer younger children. Was it true, then, that the gods sent feathers to select leaders whenever the tribe was in trouble?
Like all stories of loss and being lost, this one begins with something empty. Specifically, a glass canister. I ran out of sugar while baking a cake. I’d just finished making candied violets. It’s March, after all. (Or at least it was, out there. I don’t think time even exists in here.) You have to make candied violets with the first violets of March: that’s the rule. It was Lee’s rule. Preserved by egg white, super-fine sugar, and low heat, the violet petals live on, ossified versions of their former fragile selves.
I took a male form and sidled over a small dune. The rental camels had handles on their saddles so they wouldn’t spill the tourists when they seesawed to their feet.
He lifted a bundle wrapped in fine white cloth. The bundle squirmed, and the fabric slipped aside to reveal the snout of a baby dragon the size of a housecat. I was jostled from all sides as those around me drew back in fear.
Andrea was my sister. Dad wasn’t. I couldn’t share Andrea being my sister with him, but he kept asking. He kept trying to share Andrea being his daughter with me, like I could reminisce about her in her baby jumper hanging onto mom, or like I’d want to if I could.
Once upon a time this land had been fields and pastures cropped short by cows and sheep, but it had since gone untended for generations of men. Overhead, a hawk wheeled sharply, its pinions spread like the fingers of a hand raised in greeting.
Then it’s raw meat and birdsong. The steel rings in our hands. Eighty pounds and a quarter-mile and our fingers are cut and cold. The forest sings around us, summery and visible, enough to trace the sun in wood dust and the crisp wings of last autumn’s ghosts.
All power belonged to the lords. Their songs and their language ruled the palace, ruled Arquin. She and Andri were only slavesingers, fated to live in the darkness below stairs except for the brief, gaudy hours they spent performing songs not their own, listening to a language they were forbidden to speak.
One of fantasy’s classics is Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, first published in 1726-1727. Lemuel Gulliver visits the lands of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and others. In this section, Chapter Two, he reports from the flying island of Laputa.