Charles carries a picture of Raven in his wallet.
He forgets a lot of things out in the desert. Forgets what it feels like to lay against the damp grass in the middle of the night, forgets cooling summer breezes and what birds sound like. He forgets -- has completely forgotten, rather -- the sensation of sleeping in a real, warm bed. He forgets to eat more often than not, forgets he's permitted certain advantages due to his rank over his men. Forgets protocol and standards and titles because out in the field that shit doesn't matter anyway. He forgets his birthday and what used books smell like and what it means to sleep without waiting for the wail of a missile.
Forgets peaceful silence.
But he never forgets his wallet, void of everything but a worn down picture of his little sister and her vibrant face. Younger by four years, long red hair and eyes so hazel they were almost amber. She isn't smiling in the picture, but smirking -- unrelenting to the pleas of the photographer to soften and simper like a real lady. Real lady.
Charles chuckles every time he thinks of her and that term -- the endless repeating memories of her eyes rolling and her low grumbled "fuck 'em". No, Raven was not a "proper" lady -- she had no respect for society's standards and desires. "Fuck 'em", she always said, sure and confident. "Fuck 'em," mumbled into the collar of his shirt on the nights she spent crying in his arms, when enough people would say something cruel to make her tremble.
But she never broke. Not his Raven. Raven, his little sister who was more like his older sister at times -- or a twin, maybe, born too far apart but just when he needed her -- the only aspect of his almost forgotten life that he refused to let go of. Who had snapped the buttons of his uniform and slipped his tag over his head and slid her picture into his wallet. Their good-bye had been silent, censored under the scornful eyes of the their stepfather who had been driving them apart in the first place.
Her picture, however, is far from silent now, on these days when he needed it to be quiet and needed it to shout, words scribbled on the back in furious, quick black strokes. Makes him smile when he forgets how.
Fuck 'em ♥
No. Charles never forgets his wallet.