“I’m not sure about this opening,” Frederica said, scribbling notes on the manuscript. “It feels too… linear. She’s born, she grows up, she starts a family, and then she goes to war. I think if you started with the sequence where she talks about strapping into the dropship before the big battle, and then you jump back to her childhood, you’d have a stronger hook.”

“Oh, that’s much better,” Magh said. “Maybe I could go back and forth, alternating between the stages of the battle and the stages of her life.”

“Good thinking,” Frederica said. “That would really improve the flow of the action.”

Magh smiled.

“I don’t know how I would manage this without you.”

“Give yourself some more credit,” Frederica said. “You did it without my help before, and you’ll do it again.”

Two weeks ago, the VCU Review published an article Magh wrote based on an interview she did with one of her fellow refugees. The response to her piece was so positive that the paper asked for more. So Magh set about talking to other people in her community, collecting stories of their lives before Earth.

“Thanks,” Magh said. “And if you ever need me to return the favor, just let me know. My English is still not so great, but I will do what I can.”

“I’ll keep that in mind if I ever find a story worth reporting,” Frederica said.