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The phone rebounds off the hook so Nancy has to put it down again, damn it, can’t she even get a storm-off right? Stupid council. Stupid Cuill.

“Did I tell you,” says her mother, kneading bread dough, “about that book I read? A history of the Rutulians.”

“No, Mom.” The flush is still high in Nancy’s cheeks.

“Fascinating people.” She pauses to wipe her forehead, streaking it with flour. “Their word for ‘oppose’ was the same as ‘perpetuate.'”

“Yeah, thanks. And their word for ‘smartass?'” She’s proud of that, for a moment.

“Oh,” Mom says, “they just used ‘Nancy.'”

Stupid Mom.