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Sleep Bewitched

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Fighting is all there is, most of the time. You get up after what brief sleep you've snatched, get on your feet and keep struggling. You beat off everyone coming your way before they beat you up. That's how a girl gets to be a pirate. Nobody's going to coddle you.

Anamaria will grow old covered in scars and fighting all the way, her body ravaged by rum and hard knocks. That's fine. That's more than she got back home.

But she does come home sometimes. Not to visit her parents - they disowned her a long time ago, for choosing something different from poverty and a lousy husband.

Instead she'll take a boat into the swamp, where white men shiver to pass, and row it to the house on the water. She'll climb the stairs to find Tia waiting, fanning herself on the patio. Tia's grin tells her, every time, that she knows what Anamaria's come for.

A touch of home – a touch of comfort – a momentary surrender that she can afford.

She'll sleep late the following day, curled up in Tia's cot, the sounds and smells of the swamp around her, and Tia's sweat drying on her skin.