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When I was seven, my mother pried me away from the porthole. They had told me Uncle Ezi was gone among the stars. I did not understand then that they meant he had died. I wanted only to hold the stars.

At twelve I learned the stars’ names, which ones belonged properly to the Alliance and which had gone colonial. Colonial was a dirty word, low-caste and anxious. We walked the line, miners, stealing from planets too small for the name, among stars marked firmly Alliance on the maps.

You can have the stars, now; I’ll take the space between.

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