The City with Three Names 5

Name: Zoe Sivak


Genre: Adult Historical Literary


Word Count: 116,000 


Pitch:  In this Turkish MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Iro Floros is sold into the foreign Ottoman court in Constantinople. Earthquakes, Prince Suleyman’s love, and deadly traditions don’t only threaten Iro’s dreams of escape—but her life.


First 250:


Venezia, October 1500

She battled for every breath.


My grandmother, or Yaiyai, lay on her low bed in the darkened room, bedridden since September.


In and out. In and out. A slow rhythm of crackling wheezes slipped from her dry parted lips for the past hour. When the pause between intakes stretched on, I held my breath as well. Sometimes in solidarity, but more often in fearful expectation. I knew she would either inhale, or her lungs finally capitulated to the exhaustion of living.


Weeks of poor appetite and strained breathing made her ribs and chest protrude, Barely concealed by the brown woolen dress she wore. The usual softness in her wrinkled face withered over several weeks of illness, deepening the lines around her mouth and cheeks.


Before Mother left for Mass at dawn, she demanded my brother Nickolas and I watch over Yaiyai. My eleven-year-old self could manage dabbing her hot brow with a dampened cloth. But while the chores were not physically demanding, my heart grew wearier each passing minute. Every breath brought her closer to death yet prolonged her anguish.


Nikko sat as close to the door as he could, fiddling with the poorly carved wooden sword he never went without.


I resented Mother for forcing me to play nurse. This rasping creature did not resemble my yaiyai. Yaiyai had an iron will and caustic humor, unafraid to challenge my mother and energetic enough to manage my rambunctious seven-year-old brother.


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