Spears (pt16)

“I wish I had that way with words.”

“That’s not what you want, Azz.” Reem draped an arm around Azzah’s shoulders. “What you envy is not my words. You envy my ability to stay calm enough to think of them. You have those words as well, but when faced with Hasani’s…” She lifted her bowl.
With a frown, Azzah looked down at her bowl.

“You might not have spilled a drop, but you came close. His words were worthy of a fight, not of losing your calm.”

Reem’s words rang true, despite how Azzah felt like it was impossible. Reem had managed, somehow. “If I were calm, then how would it still be worth of a fight? Shouldn’t we be angry to hear such insults?”

“Anger isn’t always vicious. You need to learn how to handle this. Hasani was drunk.”

“You keep reminding me.” Azzah leaned into her. “I know.”

“And we like Hasani. For the most part. Outside this.”

Azzah sighed. “Yes. He isn’t bad.”

“What if someone you didn’t like or that you didn’t know aggravated you? How will you keep a cool head there?” Reem pressed her forehead against Azzah’s. “We need your head where it is. You are my back, you know.”

“You are mine,” Azzah replied. “I’m not worried. I did stay calm. Because you were.”

“No. You held your ground because I did, not because you were calm.”

“With you at my side, I can be as calm as I need. Until we need to act.”

Reem cocked her head to the side, but smiled.

Spears (pt13)

“Why does the Lel’ul have you guard an empty house? He isn’t even here. Unless you aren’t anything like you claim-”

Reem spoke up, her voice drowning out Hasani’s. It caused everyone else in the vicinity to fall silent as well. “Watch what you say, man. We are warriors of the Lel’ul.”

Azzah took a deep breath.

“Then why don’t you do anything?”

That was too much. Azzah tore her eyes from her bowl to Reem’s face. Reem looked back at her.

As one, they stood up. Azzah set her bowl on the ground without spilling. She immediately crouched down, sweeping her leg under Hasani. It knocked against his legs hard. At the same moment, Reem reached forward, swinging her spear from her back and jabbing the butt of it into his chest. Hasani went down in one. As Azzah straightened upright in one fluid motion and she pulled her own spear out.

She and Reem took off their head covers at the same moment. Azzah placed her tip against his stomach. Reem placed hers against Hasani’s throat.

Spears (pt12)

Their toast was interrupted by a man. Though that might have been too polite, in Azzah’s opinion. It was Hasani, coming up from Reem’s side.

“Look, it’s the doubled spears.”

There was nothing inherently wrong with what the young man said, but the tone of his voice made Azzah know that it wasn’t meant as fact or compliment. She fixed him with a sharp look.

Reem whispered into her ear. “He’s had a little too much. Not everyone can handle their nights well, eh?”

Azzah nodded and said nothing.

“I don’t understand what you both do.” The boy sounded legitimately confused, his words trying to figure it out. Azzah didn’t know whether to look at him or not, but as Reem sipped from her bowl without looking, Azzah followed her example. “As spears, shouldn’t you be fighting? If you are good spears, that’s what you’d be doing. Driving away those Unclean.”

Azzah’s temper rose up. She felt her spear against her back, crying out to defend against such insult. A year ago she would have blamed his youth, but it was too late. He should have known better. His muscles were that of an adult now, not of a child, defined by sweat from having lingered close by a fire on a warm night. All to remind her, in her rising fury, there was no excuse.

But Reem did nothing, so neither did Azzah. She stared down into her bowl, watching the liquid shake slowly from side to side. Eventually she noted that came from her hands, clasping the side of the bowl too tight.

and each day, and each day a new typhoon will come in

They tempted her to ask, “at what point did this seem like a good idea?”

She knew the answer already. Three beers, ten minutes, and one unconscious person ago. She pushed herself off the floor, ignoring the fact that everything was going up and down. Of course it was going up and down. That’s what happened on the water.

Another fist was thrown. She stumbled to the side – both because of the bouncing waves and from the thought that she might fall to the ground again, but so would he. Maybe he wouldn’t get back up and that would leave her with only the entire bar minus two people in a fight.

The door stood still halfway across the room. It was really taking her forever to get there.
Stupid boat bars.

The Lesson

She sat perfectly still. Still enough one could have balanced a pin on her head. She could hear mother in the other room talking with the staff. Whichever one it was, she didn’t envy. Mother wasn’t in a good mood. Not that mother was ever in a fantastic mood.

Today though, mother had already had a couple drinks. It was why she didn’t want to move from her position. When mother came back in, she would not see anything wrong. She was behaving. All was well.

She inclined her head slightly, to look at the book in front of her. Unfortunately, it sat on the other side of the table, where her mother had been sitting a few minutes before. Upside down from her, she strained to read it. The part that was probably the easiest to read was obscured by the ruler.

She straightened her neck.

Mother came sweeping back into the room, not looking directly at her. She knew better though, mother had great peripherals when desired. If there was something wrong, mother would know.

However, all she did was sit across from her. “Shall we continue?”

“Yes, please.”

Apparently, she’d passed the test. They continued the lesson.