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Her heartbeat is clear, even in this darkness. I hear two heartbeats, but they move together, so they could easily be one sound with just the merest of echoes coming after. There's less room for me to move than before. Still, I feel wanted; everything is as it should be. She speaks to me through the thin veil of skin that separates us and traces the bottom of my foot. I press against her hand with the part that is my sole and I hear voices then.

They speak to each other, those on the outside. Her voice, familiar now even though I have only heard it few times before, echoes as my own heartbeat, while this other--a brusque voice--sounds muted, disconnected.

She speaks to this other, "The time is near."

He answers back. "Yes?"

And then his hand presses against my bottom. I can't help squirming away from it. His touch is not tender like hers. Only she knows how to press gently against her skin to feel mine against it, as if we were one flesh and that my sense is her sense. We are one. I take her air. I take her food. I take her blood. From her bones and flesh she has stitched this garment for me. And I must remember when I am born that I should be eternally grateful. I hope I can remember.

After

He wanted justice black as shade, and sure as death.

They were strangely deep feelings for a ten-year-old to fathom, stranger still, that he could articulate them clearly at all, but fury settled into his organs and twisted them into a hate he'd never felt before. Some part of him felt broken off, and Sentu wondered if he looked up at the thatched ceilings, would he be able to see that shadowed part lingering there before dissipating like smoke through the crevices.

Someone was speaking. Yes. His father. He tried to offer respectful attention but all he saw as he looked into the almond colored skin and black eyes crouched next to him was a face so unlike his that he finally understood. Fellahin. That's what he was. Poor mud digging class born to do nothing but turn the fetid land into some sort of substance, to fish the waters, to drink from the edges of the Nile, braving the beasts within as they waited for their supper.

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