Thimbles, cups, and vases, silver treasures tumble from her bed when she wakes, raining on the floor, flooding the room. Last night, Farhad rode hard across the desert, 100 warriors in pursuit. His saddlebags bulged with stolen silver coins. He was so close, she could see his green eyes, hear his rich laugh. The arrows hit his back just as he entered the gates. He’d always said he’d bring her fortunes beyond her dreams, and he had. In her sleep, the coins bought all of the beautiful things in the world. But their price was too dear. Each vessel empty.
Night stands watch as she fills a water sack; Layla stuffs her pockets with pistachios. They race down marble steps, past slumbering camels, the deserted bazaar. They have never gotten this far before. Where are the guards? Each night as Aten is sated, sleeping between them, she imagines golden sand burying his heavy body, filling his mouth. Now they sprint toward the gate left open with their coins. But quicksand forms beneath them. A charm, a curse. Aten in his golden robe is the last thing they see while drowning. He glares like the desert sun—furious, impossible to escape.
Her brother said she was as ugly as a gecko. That was why men stared, sighing as she passed. You are shameful, Sibi said, and he hammered her a scowling mask of bronze that scorched her face. But the men moaned, brushing against her breasts. Your body is hideous, Sibi said, fashioning a bronze chest plate. She staggered under its weight while the men howled and rubbed against her backside. I must hide all of you, Sibi said, forging a bronze suit. In it she became a fearsome warrior, her bronze body growing green as the hills of unconquered lands.
Lynn Mundell’s work has appeared in Tin House online, Vestal Review, The Sun, Eclectica, Jellyfish Review, Hobart, Five Points, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Northern California, where she co-edits 100 Word Story.