We used our mating knives to wound them, then married them for the year and nursed them back to health. They told us that people in their homeland mated forever. They had no use for wounds, no fear of healing. When they were strong enough to walk back home, a few of our own left with them, lured by that promise of wound-free love, that strange idea of permanence.
Eefa looks back. Talaan is bed-tousled and half-dressed astride a yellow mare, her hair a tangled mane behind her (how many times has Eefa combed that hair, gently, in the glow of the fire?), her robe fallen open to the chest (the laundry Eefa washed the previous day, folded with lavender and cloves). Her feet are bare. She does not seem to feel the white-toothed wind nipping at her flesh.