By Beth Kanter
For six days the emaciated masses looked on as cartloads of sycamore figs, spiced wine, and preserved goat meat traveled to the dead man’s new home. Six servants died along the way. Four perished from the weight of the burden. The other two from the desert sun at noon. Six new men immediately took their places.
When the last story tablet had traveled from palace to tomb, it was time to ready the king’s last possession. She did not flinch or cry out when the men who once fanned her feet came to bury her alive. She slept through the journey and woke up in the airless dark. She would not weep.
Instead she ate. And, drank. Honey beer, Shedeh, curdled milk, bread, and dates. Fistful after fistful of sticky fat dates. She left the world full; drunk on royal wine and high on rage.
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Beth Kanter essays and stories have appeared in national newspapers, magazines, and online publications. She was awarded a James Kirkwood Literary Prize for Paved With Gold and was named the winner of the 2020 Lilith magazine fiction contest. Beth also has written six non-fiction books about Washington, DC. She earned her MSJ from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and, when not writing, leads narrative writing workshops. Read more of her work at bethkanter.com