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.