by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw
Read by Dave Thompson
A PodCastle Original!
The day I emancipated Izzy, in the lull of winter break when the students were mostly gone visiting their families, the boss had left a jumbled box of his latest decorative scroungings, and my job as manager included finding a place to put them. After we closed and cleaned up and I shooed out my best barista Jade, I opened up the box.
There was a red Fiesta tea pot that would have been pretty if not for the inexpert glue job someone had used to repair it, but maybe I could turn it so the crack wasn’t visible. There was a French press, pretty standard, except the glass was cobalt blue, which I’d never seen before. The last thing was the best, though: a brass dallah, the traditional Arabic coffee pot. I’d often listened to boss go on about the origins of coffee brewing, and he’d talked about the perfection of the dallah, a design unchanged for centuries. Basically it resembles a fancy pitcher, with a bulbous hourglass shape to the body, a curved handle, and a crescent-shaped spout that looks kind of like a bird’s beak. This particular dallah was old, the brass darkened by age and patina, but its entire surface was intricately filigreed with images of flowers, clouds, curves that might have been water, and spikier curves that might have been fire. The thing was a work of art in a coat of dust.
Tim Pratt’s fiction has won a Hugo Award, and he’s been a finalist for Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. He works as a senior editor for Locus magazine, and lives in Berkeley CA with his wife Heather Shaw and their son River. Find him online at timpratt.org.
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Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, bookkeeper, and lindy hopper living in Berkeley, CA with her husband and 8-year-old son, River. She’s the fiction editor at the new pro SF zine, Persistent Visions (persistentvisionsmag.com). She’s had short fiction published in Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Fantasy, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and other nice places. She’s been a featured author at the SF in SF Reading series in San Francisco and read her poetry in front of disgruntled grunge concert-goers at Lollapalooza back when it was a thing.
Heather is also the fiction editor of a new SF magazine, paying pro rates, called Persistent Visions. It will be free to read online, and she’ll be looking for fresh fiction that skirts the edges of reality, pushes the boundaries of where we’ve been, and has an updated, innovative perspective on the people we will become; she wants stories that include a diverse cast of characters, that push conventional assumptions regarding race, gender, neurodiversity, disability, and sexuality in thought-provoking, exciting new ways.