7
 

A samovar carried between them, Sophie and Sophia cross the threshold of Nana’s sumptuous parlour, their bearing both deferential and imbued with understated mischief. Sparsely clad, their adolescence shimmers—where fabric yields to flesh. Solemn in their service, they flirt nonetheless with post-pubescent cheek, while Turkish coffee issues from the spigot like a stream of molten coke—thick, narcotic, seductively aromatic as it fills a porcelain demitasse, transferred hand to hand, to anoint impatient lips, staining gums, tongue, and gullet with the insolence of an oil spill.

Nana, keenly aware of being bracketed by the twosome poised like tactile bookends, left to right, on her divan, notes affectations intended to distract (?), to signal tandem hankerings (?), to suggest, with risqué hints, variations on an act they jointly crave (?), for surely the teenage siblings have long-ago given up thumb sucking, yet these two mouth their digits like hungry babes-in-arms. Or like wantons simulating fellatio—the naughty double entendre each no doubt implies.

Waving them away with a flick of her upraised hand, Nana elects to indulge in caffeine intake solely. Not that she is offended by her servants’ craven appetites; theirs, like hers, have been groomed for 'misbehavior'—as judged by the prudish world-at-large. Their world, on the other hand, cloistered and remote, applies a different standard.

Brigham And Women’s Hospital might as well have been on Mars the day that Alexandra Albright, by Caesarean section, vented megenetic alien and unfledged cuckoo that I was upon arrival. Shock, then consternation must have preceded ultimate hardheartedness; responses to my delivery surely flabbergasted most—Alexandra's parents in particular; I was not their daughter’s offspring. Therefore, neither could I be theirs. So I was awarded to the Statethough Massachusetts also did not want me. Children born "deformed" presented special problems with regard to adoptability. Science, on the other hand, was eager to inherit that which foster parents spurned. Committed to determining what I was—from whom and whence were problematic issues set aside—assorted specialists earmarked me for studies unlimited.

Enter my redeemer, in the form of Sheikh Hadithah, who, by proxy (and strategic distribution of cold hard cash) arranged my timely emancipation from unremitting inquiry.

That was six birthdays ago, by the Gregorian calendar, making me of primary school age, technically. Whereas actually I'm of post-graduate age and have earned an MFA in Sculpture, with a minor in Aesthetics, my coursework, for the most part, done and submitted from off-campus sites remote.

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