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Damaya curls up tighter, clenching her teeth. She hates that stupid nickname. She hates the way Mother says it, all light and sweet, like it's actually a term of endearment and not a lie.
When Damaya doesn't respond, Mother says: "She can't have gotten out. My husband checked all the barn locks himself."
"Alas, her kind cannot be held with locks." The voice is deep, and he speaks with an accent like none she's ever heard: sharp and heavy, with long drawled o's and a's and crisp beginnings and ends to every word. Smart-sounding. He jingles faintly as he walks, so much so that she wonders whether he's wearing a big set of keys. Or perhaps he has a lot of money in his pockets? She's heard that people use metal money in some parts of the world.
The thought of keys and money makes Damaya curl in on herself, because of course she's also heard the other children in creche whisper of child-markets in faraway cities of beveled stone. Not all places in the world are as civilized as the Nomidlats. She laughed off the whispers then, but everything is different now. "Fresh spoor, I think."
Mother makes a sound of disgust, and Damaya burns in shame as she realizes they've seen the corner she uses for a bathroom. It smells terrible there, even though she's been throwing straw down as a cover each time. "Squatting on the ground like an animal. I raised her better."
"Is there a toilet in here?" asks the child-buyer, in a tone of polite curiosity. "Did you give her a bucket?"
Silence from Mother, which streches on, and belatedly Damaya realizes the man has reprimanded Mother with those quiet questions.
Fler smakbitar finns hos Mari. Ha en trevlig söndag!