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The new mask is nameless.

“If nothing comes of the dance, we’ll dispose of it,” says Middle Mother, hovering, obviously longing to take a licked handkerchief to Cehrazad’s underface. “If something does… well, we’ll talk about that then.”

Cehrazad is afraid to do more than cradle it: it’s molded perfectly, spun of iridescent glass as thin as spiderwebs. “Dispose of it,” she whispers.

“Well, it’s hardly for everyday use, hmm?” Middle Mother raises the handkerchief, and Cehrazad has to put the mask on in self-defense.

Through the glass, everything’s edged with rainbows; her hands are mirrored, multiplied, like insect eyes.


Old Mother, Young Mother and Middle Mother: Cehrazad doesn’t know what they’d do if her father married again. Add another wing?

Middle Mother finds Cehrazad on her sixteenth birthday. “Oh, finally,” she says, “is your underface washed? You’re due for a fitting in the city.”

“It’s always washed,” says Cehrazad. “A mask fitting? Is it a present?”

“No,” says Middle Mother. “Well, yes, I suppose. Something new for the ball.”

Cehrazad tries to remember. “I’m going to a ball?”

“Of course!”


“To see if the King will marry you,” says Middle Mother, and her voice is small, like a child’s.