GENRE: Historical fiction
“What is the most important thing you’ve ever done?”
Maybe women in faraway Constantinople where the emperors ruled did important things, but women in my village rarely did. I’d heard once of an empress who exiled the Patriarch of Constantinople and hounded him to his death some fifty years ago, but women outside the Roman Empire didn’t have that much power. Certainly they didn’t in a place that tripled in size every spring with the caravans from the far eastern lands.
“I saved a woman’s life once,” I answered slowly. The question wasn’t what my mother prepared me to expect. The man my father had picked for my husband should ask about my sewing skills and cooking. Don’t lie, Mother said, but don’t tell him how bad my meals could be.
Bulyar smiled under his mustache, and I relaxed. “Saved a woman’s life? I’d say that that’s a pretty remarkable thing to do.”
I smiled and wanted to ask him the same question, but he spoke first. “What else do you think you can do, Nino? You’ve lived in the bathhouse your whole life. Could you manage one yourself?”
My family owned the bathhouse, I didn’t live in it like the slaves did, but I nodded. “Of course. There’s not much I couldn’t do.”
“You can keep the records? Handle the money? Fuel the boilers?” Bulyar pressed. “Your father said that you once stopped an explosion. I thought that you would say that.”