We catch a glimpse of a small Innerland town, a cluster of grey-hued stone buildings with fire smoke stabbing into the sky. Our approach is noticed and a woman, dressed in grey official robes, hurries out to greet us. Close to the heart of the Innerlands, her coloring is the same as Sa’s: fair skin, fair hair and green eyes.
“Hello,” the woman greets us cheerfully. I notice that she is not as young as I’d thought. She has crow’s feet around her eyes and her hair seems whiter than normal. She glances at me. My coast-dweller features must have startled her. We do not really travel Innerlands much.
“We need a room and warm food,” Sa says briskly. From where we are sitting, the woman thinks sar is male.
“Good, good. We have the guest rooms ready,” the woman says. “Available for your family.”
Sa’s eyes twinkle and I know sar is smiling beneath the layers of shawl. I balance Heart on my knees, glad that she is shielded from the official’s inquisitive eyes.
The bath is a welcome relief. I soak myself long enough in the hot water for my skin to become wrinkled like preserved prunes. I imagine myself back in the sea, swimming, just… being myself.
Heart is bathed next in lukewarm water. I have to wash her hair. It smells sour. She squirms, of course, and puts up a fight. But at last, she is clean and wearing her clean top and pants. I need to sew more cloth diapers too.
Sa brings in a stack of folded off-white fabric, bartered from a tinkerer. Sar gives me a small leather pouch in which I find new needles and thread, all silver and gleaming at me.
“Thank you,” I say and mean it.
Sa lifts my hand and kisses it lightly.
We turn in, sharing the one single bed. It is soft and comfortable. Heart sleeps immediately, curled up beside me. Sa lies down next to me and strokes my back gently. Sa, a woman who thinks she is a man and uses a new pronoun. Oh, Sa.
Should I go back?
Should I stay?
Will my new found magic kill me in the end?
Cut heart shapes from fabric of your choice
Thread (color of your choice)
1. Sew along the edges of the heart shapes when you join them together.
2. Sew until the heart is a pouch. Fill the inside with cotton.
3. Sew the opening until the heart feels like a small cushion.
4. You can also stuff potpourri to make a scented pouch.