Sisters

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Under cover of darkness, the women packed Jasmine the talking donkey with supplies for their journey. Lilith was bruised and broken. She mounted the donkey's back. Na'amah held the reins and briskly led them out of the city of Eridu before sunrise.

They moved silently for a good amount of time. Even Jasmine had nothing to say. Lilith's sadness weighed on them all. Her lover Azazel, cursed by God to remain in Dudael for all eternity, made her promise to get aboard the great ark in the old city of Shuruppak. It was the only way they had a chance at ever seeing each other again. Without the fallen angels to help her, she had no idea how to begin.

Once out on the open desert, Na'amah broke the silence. She had been waiting a long time to speak.

"Lilith, my twin sister lives in Shuruppak, and I believe she is married to the man we are looking for, the one who is building the great ark."

It was enough to shake Lilith from despair.

"How... wait, you have a twin sister?"

Jasmine cocked her long ears. "This, I gotta hear."

Na'amah nodded. Lilith dismounted and walked alongside her. The sun had yet to show its face, but already the desert sand was brighter.

"Our mother kept us a secret throughout all of our childhood. It was part of her brilliant idea from the moment we were born, a way for us to get rich and famous. She named us both Na'amah. She never let anyone see us together. As far as anyone outside of our family was concerned, there was only one daughter named Na'amah.

"It suited me just fine. Though my sister and I are identical twins, our personalities couldn't be more different. That's how our mother could tell us apart. My sister was outgoing and loved to meet new people. I was shy and preferred to stay at home. The few times my mother took me out, I hid under her skirt for most of it.

"As soon as we learned how to walk and talk, Mother taught us a dance and magic show. My sister sang and performed a spectacular dance. Her beguiling moves and the lilt of her voice drove men into a wild sexual frenzy. She loved the stage and the power it gave her.

"My job was to hide, up high behind a small window with a balcony over the stage. My sister sang and danced and then hopped into a large ceramic vase. She secretly dropped down into a false floor in time for a man to smash the vase with a huge hammer. I appeared immediately in the window above the audience dressed exactly like her. The big climax of the show.

"The crowds went insane. After the shows I went backstage, changed into street clothes, and was done with it. My sister partied all night with her audience and guests.

"When we came of age our mother brought us to Inanna's temple. Like many young women, we hoped to fetch a good price for our virginity. We performed our song, dance, and magic number. To protect our secret, there could only be one of us up for bids. You can guess which one of us stood on auction. Every man in the audience vied for my sister. Each one bid higher than the next.

"The man who won her was unlike anyone else there. His skin was white, his hair was silver, his eyes were bright blue. Every bit of him glowed. My sister noticed him right away and couldn't believe her luck when he put up the highest bid for her. She left with him and, from what I've heard from the girls' gossip, they're married.

"As for me, I cut my hair and changed my whole look. I fell in love with the library, and time passed unnoticed.

"Lilith, Jasmine, I have never spoken to anyone about my sister. We protect our secret twin power, in case we may need it. It comes naturally to us. We've done it all our lives. I trust you will do the same."

Jasmine's mouth hung open wordlessly. Lilith was astounded. "Wow. I've never met anyone more interesting than you, Na'amah. Amazing story. And yes, I promise to keep your secret. You have my word."

Jasmine nodded her head. "Me, too. No matter how sassy I get, I do know when to keep my mouth shut. Your secret is safe with me."

Na'amah beamed. "I knew I could trust you both. I haven't seen my sister since she left Inanna's temple, but the girls still talk about her. She's a legend among courtesans. She still holds the record for the most gold ever raised in one night!

"Lately I've heard talk about the men going off to work on a large construction in Shuruppak. The rumor is that it's my sister's husband that's doing the hiring. If that's true, then we've got a ticket in to the ark."

Lilith gave her a big kiss. "Na'amah, how do you manage to be the answer to all of my problems?"

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