At first they look like an ordinary key set, wound onto an unremarkable key ring. Coloured beads, a silver front door deadlock key, a couple of smaller keys for what Rick thinks might be a valise or small padlock, perfectly in keeping with the traveller he thinks she may be. There’s something else, worn, much older. An anodised cylinder, about 8cms long, less than a centimetre in diameter. A whistle - damaged and beaten. At first glance he’s not sure what it is until his vision begins with its piercing shrillness, and belies its true identity.
Born in Tomia amid the turmoil of the times and when crime was rampant. He was the youngest child and the most debauched. Shunned by a furious mother, after being found fondling his sister’s breasts, his hand across her mouth and forcing her against the wall. His mother threw him into the streets screaming, “Behave like a dog, go live like a dog”.
“That’s gonna scar you bitch. I’d kill you but La Capitanana, has a soft spot for your madre…a hard spot for her too! You’re a victim of war! Marique. Grin and bear it. To the victors go the spoils!” He blows smoke into her face and spits defiantly on the ground. “Next time you won’t be so lucky!”
He casually turns and saunters off, the others in tow. She can’t see the anger on his face and the finger agitating the trigger on his gun. If there is a next time, she’ll be dead. He's not prepared to take it further under the protective gaze of Xavier's minders.
Her mother's devastated but not surprised and uses her influence with Xavier, "If you won't give her a bodyguard, at least give her a weapon, I beg of you." Catching the para in a moment of post coital relaxation was a good idea.
"Fine Chica, if it makes you happy....I'll buy her a gun."
True to his word, on her 16th Birthday, Marique is given a weapon. A pretty, pearlised instrument of death with her initials emblazoned on the handle.
"Use it wisely child, it's not a toy." Her mother warns, "but if that bastard comes near you again, shoot!"
Written for the River of Mnemosyne Challenge: