Quick note that we’ve added “Among the Marithei” to my website. Thanks to Asimov’s for the publication! This is set in my Jump Space universe, but is a stand-alone story.
“Sergey hummed under his breath as he walked to the Marith temple. His steps retraced a path he knew so well, he could have walked it at night, in the dark, even under assault. Yet the Marith enclave was the most peaceful place he’d ever been—so calm that Sergey didn’t even need to hum to soothe his newborn daughter, fast asleep in her sling, bound tight against his chest. Three days old, and still Katya mostly slept, which both his wife and the doula had assured him was normal. They laughed at his anxieties, but they didn’t understand how Katya’s small griefs pierced his soul. He was no Marith empath, but he felt what she felt.
“This is your—spawn?”
“Daughter,” Sergey corrected, smiling up at his tall friend, who had stepped out of the temple gate to greet him. “Spawn is technically correct, Bila, but humans prefer child, son, or daughter. Daughter indicates a female child.”
The Marithei bowed down to peer closely at Katya, the pale green fronds that framed his face going temporarily flat. Sergey appreciated the gesture—otherwise, they might have brushed against the baby and tickled her awake. “How can you know the sex so young?”
Sergey said, “Well, you can’t, really. But humans like to take a first approximation. It’s convenient.”
Bila straightened, shrugging, a smooth gesture that involved his whole body, or what could be seen of it under the loose cloak that most Marithei wore in public. “That seems confusing….”