by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw
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.
About the Authors
Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, bookkeeper, sewist, and lindy hopper living in Berkeley, CA with her husband and 13-year-old son, River. She’s had short fiction published in Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Fantasy, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and other nice places. She has been the fiction editor at the erotica zine Fishnet, the speculative fiction zine Flytrap, and the pro-SF zine, Persistent Visions. She is currently working on a one-act modern feminist adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which will have a staged reading in San Francisco in November of 2021. She can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/hlshaw.
Tim Pratt is the author of more than 20 novels, most recently the Axiom space opera trilogy. His multiverse adventure novel Doors of Sleep, beginning a new series, is out in January 2021. He’s a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Mythopoeic, Stoker, and other awards. He tweets incessantly (@timpratt) and publishes a new story every month for patrons at www.patreon.com/timpratt.
About the Narrator
Dave Thompson aka the Easter Werewolf aka the California King is still uncomfortable with the notion of pumpkin beer, but don’t hold that against him. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three children. Together with co-editor Anna Schwind, he ran PodCastle for five years, stepping down to focus on his own writing in 2015. You can find two of his audiobook narrations on Amazon: Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout and Briarpatch by Tim Pratt. Dave is an Escape Artists’ Worldwalker and Storyteller, having been published in, and narrated for, all four EA podcasts.