Going to sleep was a chore Farrah dreaded. All day she would work on the Songbird’s engine, Phillip’s arm, her letters, repairing her robes, dancing with Avi…absolutely anything to keep from the contemplation of the future. And then the sun would dip below the horizon – a view of buildings not so different from her childhood, and Farrah was aching to be back at sea where the innocent sunset wouldn’t remind her – and she would start to garner concerned looks from her friends and the crew.
She looks so tired.
She never smiles, or utters an unnecessary word.
The poor creature, she’s broken.
Farrah loathed the pitying glances, but couldn’t bear to be alone for long. And so, at the point of night where only the lookouts were awake, Smeb or Mel would gently take her by the elbow and lead her to the captain’s quarters. Farrah would be presented to Phillip like a cow that had caught a fever, a prized animal that must be temporarily brought indoors to save it. She slept fitfully in the captain’s bed, while he penned correspondence to who knows where and tallied ledgers and charts. Once she woke to find him pouring tumbles of liquor down his throat. She didn’t let him know how often she awoke.
Farrah didn’t dream much. Perhaps she lacked the energy even for nightmares. There was simply an unending listlessness, conscious or not, that wore at her. As if she was a single dune of sand being blown away, smoothed into the featureless topography of the desert. And that would have been a blessing. To simply not exist where her home no longer existed. “Allah would not leave the believer, except to separate the wicked from the good.” Then perhaps she was wicked, and Allah had separated her from her family for a reason. Perhaps she was now abandoned by her God and her people.
When these dark thoughts came to Farrah during the night, in a loathsome voice she recognized as only her own grieving mind, she clutched her people to her in the only way she knew how.
Aleph Sifr and the five infinites
Infinite of Sifr
Infinite in two directions
Aleph Sifr as the perpetual infinite
The University was gone. The ash of its library had burned in Farrah’s nose, and certainly its scholars were either dead or scattered to the desert winds. But she had its gifts, its mathematics and medicine and ways of thinking that no one else knew. When she worked on the machines around her or diagnosed a patient, she had her people standing beside her. When she prayed to Allah, all she thought of were the mysteries of numbers.
Aleph Sifr the uncountable
Aleph Sifr all-enumerated