Girls Know

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They were not pre-chosen to be married to the very best men—to the Sons of Jacob and the other Commanders or their sons—not like us; although they might get to be chosen once they were older if they were pretty enough. Nobody said that. You were not supposed to preen yourself on your good looks, it was not modest, or take any notice of the good looks of other people. Though we girls knew the truth: that it was better to be pretty than ugly. Even the Aunts paid more attention to the pretty ones. But if you were already pre-chosen, pretty didn’t matter so much.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Manipulating Fanaticism

“Is everything ready for us inside the city?” Tamara asked, fighting to keep up.

“A team is already there and has secured the home of a zealot named Jaki’el.” He responded, exhaustion far from his voice. “He belongs to a sect of the people who believe a man from beyond the grave is coming to usher in a new era of Jark prosperity.” Canis cut a look at Tamara and scowled. “They are lunatics,” he growled. “But they will serve our purpose and provide the backbone for your proclamations.”

“What do you believe?” Tamara asked, catching a face full of dust and smoke.

He grunted. “I believe in a good death and that neither I nor Brokk has had that opportunity yet.”

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller

Wealth Depends on Slaves

I thought for a long time before speaking again. “So these children are slaves,” I said. “They aren’t paid, and they have no other choice.”

“Well, you don’t have to put it like that,” Can said, with a clear scoff in her voice. “Nobody hurts them. Nobody fucks them. They’re safe and they’re taken care of. What more is there to childhood, anyway?”

I couldn’t answer her then, and I cannot now. In my travels, I have learned the same lesson again and again; every city as rich as Shy has that same flaw at its heart.

The life I live now is beautiful, but no one on Bambritch is entitled to the labor or the body of another. That is our one unshakable rule.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison

Black Market Hope

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I stood in front of her, hands folded. So, she said. She had a cigarette, and she put it between her lips and gripped it there while she lit it. Her lips were thin, held that way, with the small vertical lines around them you used to see in advertisements for lip cosmetics. The lighter was ivory-colored. The cigarettes must have come from the black market, I thought, and this gave me hope. Even now that there is no real money anymore, there’s still a black market. There’s always a black market, there’s always something that can be exchanged.

She then was a woman who might bend the rules. But what did I have, to trade?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What makes a warrior

“It sounds to me,” his father finally said, “that you returned with all the honor they would allow. You killed your enemy in battle and you fought your hardest for the fleet. That makes us all proud.” The elders nodded at that. Some of them ground their teeth to show appreciation for what the archon was saying. Boro felt relieved. “You know,” he continued, “we have all fought in battles that we lost. What makes a warrior and eventually a great leader is how we learn from losing.”

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller

Vampires Don’t Eat

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Amazon.com

There’s an abiding myth that vampires are afraid of garlic. This, of course, is a lie. The garlic myth was triggered hundreds of years ago, when a nameless vampire joked about not attacking some woman because she smelled of garlic. I mean, how could anyone be terrified of a culinary herb? It’s true that garlic makes vampires sick. But in that respect it’s no different from bread or bacon or Brussels sprouts. A vampire’s stomach isn’t capable of digesting normal food; one slice of watermelon could put half a dozen vampires in bed for a week.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Talk Of Me If You Like

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Amazon.com

“Oh! talk of me if you like,” cried Edna, clasping her hands beneath her head; “but let me think of something else while you do.”

The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin

Following Footsteps

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Amazon.com

It could also be that Ma got me the job because she started working at Antoine’s when she was sixteen, my age. Most parents who want their kids to follow in their footsteps are doctors or senators, stuff like that. But Ma wants me to work in a convenience store. Stay in the neighborhood. Support my community, because that’s another thing about growing up in Jokertown—it’s the only home some of us will ever have.

The Thing about Growing Up in Jokertown (A Tor.com Original) by Carrie Vaughn

Alone in Unfamiliar Places

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“She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.”

The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin