And I dreamed of a past life...

Now, mind you don’t muss this dress…And don’t run. And no climbing into the rigging, with the boys. The ropes are all covered with pitch, and we’ll never get that out…”
“Yes, Mom.” 
She pulls, painfully, on something on my head. She’s sent the ornatrix away, which means that she’s putting on something most probably expensive.
“And now, your face?”

“Perfect. Now, whatever happens, stay on the boat. We don't want you to get lost or get mistaken for someone older."
"Or a whore, or..."
I’m fourteen. It’s not quite Confirmation for me, and Mom’s going a little out of the way for Corpus Christi, here in this finest of cities, Constantinople. Our family is going to be having a banquet, on a boat, and see all the displays that all the other families have put up here on the Golden Horn.

It’s a fine day for sailing, though we also have rowers. The kohl is all right, although I keep trying to rub it off and my lips are stinging and some color not known to Nature, and it’s wet and hot and I’m sure my older cousin is hitting on me. And there’s my annoying old uncle  and his wife Patricia, always carrying on that he can cook better than any of our slaves, and another uncle, who serves no other purpose other than to give a great big belly laugh now and then, and my mom’s second husband The War Hero whom I absolutely despise. 

And I don’t really feel part of any of this.

What’s life? 

The party goes on. We eat. A lot. And more than that. The adults are happy, lulled by wine, napping on pillows, affectionate. Lucky me. I grew up in a traditional family, which means that I don’t get to imagine my parents having sex…I've seen it. Youngsters like me cluster in the bow, try to climb the rigging, playing knucklebones, or fingers, or whatever stupid word game they have this year. I’m overcome with boredom. 

And then, we go for the Return, Gran’ma Maia seizes me bodily, and points me towards the shore. “Smile. Wave. Look happy.”she hisses in my ear. 

Hello, world. I’m Elissa Diodati, I don’t have much of a dowry, I'm smart and pretty, with no apparent social skills, despite years of tutoring. My breasts have come in a little ahead of schedule. It’s 1185 A.U.C.

The Golden Horn shows it’s best light, just then, with the iridescence of silks, the banners of myriad design of the Travellers, and the gold leaf applied over every surface. 

Even my wounded soul sees this as Heaven on Earth...

“That was a complicated filling.” Dr. Rosen says. “Keep your hands down.”

“I was…” I drool. “I was…” 

“Don’t sweat it.” The technician says.