She clutches handfuls of her mother: the warm, wounded flesh beneath her coat, the bittersweet curve of her mouth, the scar-swept surface of her cheek. When she has grown older she will linger on the crinkles and creases that frame her own eyes, and smile in recognition.
He says, “You’re very pretty.” There is something new about her, something borrowed, something blue. She sticks in his senses like candy floss; and while he knows it would be wrong to taste, he cannot help but see.
When her brother sees her union tattoo, its bold, tribal lines peeking past the edges of her dress, he cries. She doesn’t care. She’s always done what she wants, when she wants.
The Peacekeeper leers at her, the packet dangling from between his teeth. He shifts his body and it sticks to the moist, pink inside of his lip, then peels away. She tamps down her revulsion, her nausea. Let the animal rut. She won’t die today.
She’s alone in the cargo container when she wakes, her body bruised, salted with sweat and the poisons of her people. He’s left her a half-finished note in the grime, a tattered wad of currency in her clothes. She curls around herself, around his heartbeat, and waits.