A soft song of steam decrescendoed as Ariel lifted the simmering kettle. Water bubbled over the pearled leaves, filling the mug with a swamp of gunpowder green. She rested the kettle on a cool, empty burner and glanced at her desk, where a pile of journals in dark burgundy and grey, marked with ribbons and notes, was stacked on the desk’s corner--a project in progress. The singular black leather one was older, marked with the permanent stains of use, weather, and persistent fingers. It was held together with a little stitching on the spine and a cord like a too-tight belt around its bulging belly.