Chapter Seven - The Taste of Pepper Sauce

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Kwale normally loved to watch from the windows as the Eagle's Arrow took to the air. She would stand with her nose nearly pressed against the glass like an eager little girl and watch as the ground below dropped out beneath her feet. It made her feel like a bird. It made her feel like she could fly away from all her problems.

But on days like today, when worry weighed her down and she felt too heavy to fly, she went to the kitchen instead. It was a long, bright space, shining with brassy finishes and polished wood. It looked so different from her kitchen back in Accra, but she could make it smell and taste the same.

She opened the spice drawer and closed her eyes. One breath, and she was home. The smell of ginger and freshly-ground pepper painted a picture in her mind of old cabinets with cracked red paint, a worn wooden counter scarred with knife marks and burns from old mistakes, a single, cheery window hung with bright curtains that turned to stained glass in the sun. And, of course, her husband. Her darling Wednesday boy.

Every day, when he came home, he would walk up behind her and wrap his hands around her waist, leaving a small kiss on the curve of her neck. She would lean into him, smile spreading on her face. Abeiku could always make her smile, just by being there with her.

She opened her eyes, a smile once again on her lips. Even though he was quite literally on the other side of the world, Abeiku could still make her smile. She ran a finger over her mouth and wondered if he was thinking of her. The thought made her feel a sort of bittersweet way, two flavors of feeling mixing together at once to create something new inside.

Kwale realized her eyes were pricking with tears and decided to start chopping onions to disguise it, even though no one was around but her. Annemarie would be on the bridge, of course. Would she be as joyful as she usually was when the ship lifted off to go to some new place, or had the events of the long night sobered her? Laurent would be with her, or maybe with Avani in the cargo bay, making sure all the crates were secure. The new girl, Adalé, that fiery star, was perhaps with the captain, watching and learning how to fly. Rogers would be in the engines as always, and Jameson locked in his laboratory. But they were all safe. The important thing was that they were all safe.

She pulled a heavy pan off of the hooks from where it hung and set it on the stove. From the cupboards overhead, she pulled out a rather slippery glass bottle filled with yellow oil and poured a healthy amount into the pan, watching carefully as her mother-in-law had taught her. She scooped in the onions, added garlic, ginger, and pepper, and turned on the stove. It wasn't wood-burning or gas, of course, but a strange contraption Jameson had rigged up somehow using electricity. An open flame on an airship was a death sentence.

The fire at the airdocks had proven that.

She closed her eyes against the fear and took another breath. The smell of hot oil, sizzling onions, and sharp ginger soothed her, reminding her of the times at home making this sauce to be served beside Abeiku's mother's recipe for corn dumplings. She could almost hear his voice.

"These are delicious," he had said, his mouth stuffed full of food. "My mother would be pleased to know you make them so well."

"She was a good teacher."

"You're a good student. And don't tell her," he said with a quick glance above, "But I like yours better."

"You're a flatterer," she had announced.

He had taken her hand and kissed it. "You know I am. Did I ever tell you that Thursday is my favorite day?"

She smiled and blushed; her first name, Yaa, was a Thursday name, the day she was born. She went by Kwale everywhere else as an honor to the uncle who had given it to her before she was born without knowing if she was niece or nephew, but to Abeiku, she was Thursday. "You know which day is my favorite, Wednesday boy."

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