Mirihar's belly rumbled with a whole lotta empty, but that was never-no-fahng-sheen.
There were alotta things that were harder than an empty belly and parched lips.
Hard ground. Hard knot that went cancer south and took mama to the sky. Winter away from the sun. Summers when it never rained. Reavers reigning down from the sky.
This time of the year was all about remembering who was in charge, and it sure as guay wasn't Mirihar. Fasting to the rhythms of the moon of the Earth-that-Was. Riding in a dry dirt field in the middle of nowhere scratching out feed for their cattle. Which was sorta a good deed. Hardly no one now to good deed for. Her brother. Herself.
When she was a little girl, her family'd lived the soft life. Plush plumb in the middle of the Core. Then there'd been the war. Then a whole lotta push to put new settlers out in the Black.
They were Hui-Ma. Always the ones that got moved out to the hard spots. Been that way on the Earth-that-Was. Was that way now.
Her belly rumbled again. She coulda told it to shut it, but that wasn't the point. She adjusted her legs in her stirrups and tried to focus on balancing din and dunya in herself. Spirit and world, and evening herself out to the calendar of the moon of the Earth-that-Was.
Mirihar lived on a moon and there'd been some small disagreement on that. When there was reason to get together. Next year in Mecca. Maybe someday.
Now, she kept an eye on the open dike into the alfalfa field. Last year, she hadn't been paying no mind and ai-ya, if she hadn't left it open too long. Too busy watching a Firefly gun-hoe-tze bee dio-se with a Reaver ship. This year she kept a close watch on the field, but maybe one eye on the sky.
She patted Pai-ma, who was part Arabian and part Quarter Horse, but all Mirihar's. Walked her round the field. Shifted in the saddle as the sun in that sky just kept going. Scratched her back where sweat trickled down under the cloth.
Time enough. She turned off the spigot with full turns of the wheel. Field been watered near enough. Wasn't even hard not brush her hand in the water. Belly rumbling. Sweat rolling down her back and her mouth dry as dust.
She was as balanced as one of them Suffi's, who she'd heard did this sorta stretch-bend thing so they could pray straight to Mecca at the fifty-nine degree angle they as said Earth-that-Was was at. But they was poets, and everyone knew poets were crazy.
Mirihar wasn't crazy and she needed to check the cattle in the back one-forty. Hard ride up the mountain. Beautiful hard chai-brown mountain. Pai-ma picked her way up the cattle trail. Mirihar looked out at the heat haze horizon of hard beautiful. His country. Din and dunya. Balanced on a ridge.
Days like this she was glad they'd moved. Must be hard to fast in the middle of pump plush. Out here, she knew that by evening prayer, she'd be at the top of the mountain, where the cattle clustered around a cold mountain spring.
Sun'd set and she'd pray and she sip a cuppa water, sweet as the water of life, to remind her just who was in charge.