"But Stirling, like all true poets, had a tender heart. He began to see past the glitter and glamour into the actual shape of the city and its true inhabitants, those who had been born there and had grown up there. He walked deep into the city, taking in the rare perfume of amedina in the morning. The warm bread, the mint tea, the excited children, sugar from a hurriedly eaten breakfast still on their cheeks, the shrewd carpet seller and the loud-mouthed fish vendor with the gold earrings and imposing behind. Stirling also saw how thin some of these children were, how tired the fish vendor was, how worried the carpet seller. He looked past their persons and saw what expats who refuse to turn native, or even immigrant, refuse to see..."
"BEITHE WAS A LOUD CITY. It had the loudness of a city not yet used to itself. Steel clicked against steel and stone echoed stone. There was no respite from its noise.
On a bend in the road in the center of Beithe, there stood a house. It was known to all the town-dwellers as Anna’s House. Though no one knew why. For in fact, the house belonged to a young woman called Sarah and no Anna was ever seen or remembered to have lived in that house on a bend in the road in the center of town.
And in Sarah’s house, there was silence. The loudness and noise never entered Sarah’s house. Every day, she would wake up to its quietness and breathe in its lightness. Sarah had quickly taken for granted its quietness and lightness . . ."
The Shades in the Photograph
This short story was inspired by a photograph seen in an inn in Vermont.
The photographer adjusted the camera lens. His soft suede boots sank in the mud and he grumbled under his breath. They were his best pair and more used to the city pavement than to the green, rolling pastures of the country...