Sassafras heard her brother’s cry muffled by yards of woven thread and knew he was in pain. She spun furiously, along a thread, trying to reach him. The silk shot out behind her and she was compelled to backtrack and weave an intricate pattern, despite her brother’s need. His cry turned to a whimper. Strand over strand she wove, alongside a hundred others like her or a thousand. When did I learn to weave with my two legs? When did I grow four other nimble arms? Her brother’s whimpering had stopped. Strand over strand, she wove her silk threads. She lost herself in the rhythm of the weave, finally forgetting her sister’s betrayal and her brother’s pain.

July 21st 1897

An empty ache spread through her abdomen. A dry wind blew across her face, parched her hands, her arms, her legs. The ground beneath her felt hot and coarse like salt. Sassafras Cats opened her eyes and closed them right away to block out the sun that burned a bright yellow hole in the sky.

“She's waking up.” The voice was a woman’s, slow and calm like Agatha’s, but unfamiliar.

“Give her some tea.” A man’s voice answered. Or is it just the wind?

A strong arm propped her head. A warm clay cup pressed against her lips. She drank. A bitter sweetness washed over her tongue, unrecognizable, earth and air.

“Sassafras Cats, can you hear me?” the wind brushed against her ear.

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