Yet from those flames, no light, rather darkness visible.
-John Milton, in Paradise Lost
It was a sunny day when the first of her many trials began. She saw the light streaming in through the windows into the apartment. She sat still as a blindfold was secured around her eyes, effectively blocking out the light. She heard someone sit down next to her and straightened her back slightly. This was an important stage in her testing. Everyone in the neighborhood had to go through it when they turned six. It was a precaution. They had to know how to protect themselves. They had to be smart.
Her father’s familiar voice sounded from next to her.
“Hold your hand out, palm up, Daisy.” She did as she was told, extending her palm outwards towards her father, “Good.” She felt the cold metal of a bullet being dropped into her hand, “What kind of round is in your hand?” She felt it for a moment before responding,
“.22,” It was quickly removed and replaced by another.
“What kinda round is it now?” She felt the new piece for a few moments,
“.380,” It was removed and another was placed in seconds later,
“What kind of round’s in your hand now?”
“.380 again,” She heard a hum of approval and the round was removed, replaced by another.
“What kinda round in your hand now?”
She paused, feeling around the hard metal, “.48- No, .45,”
“Good,” He took it back and she heard it being placed on the table. Moments later she felt a small handgun being placed in her hands, “Go.”
She reached for the table and pulled a mag up, pushing it into the mag slot and patting it just in case,
“Daisy, If you have a bunch of friends who aren’t doing shit are they an asset of a liability?” She cocked the gun and brought it up in a firing position before replacing it on the table in front of her, picking up a larger handgun.
“Liability,” She grabbed the next mag, shoving it into the slot and continuing the pattern.
“How many people are on the registered sex offender list?” She cocked the gun back with slight difficulty and aimed down the sights once again before placing it on the table next to the other one. She fumbled around the table for the next mag before picking it up and finding the large rifle sitting upside down on the table.
“Daddy taught you that you’re a goddess so you can never be...?” He trailed off waiting for her to finish the sentence.
“Someone’s possession or bitch.” She pushed down on the mag, slotting it into place and picking the rifle up. She pulled the bolt back and aimed down the sights, ignoring burn in her small arms the gun caused.
“Good. Daisy, take your blindfold off.”
She rested part of the gun on her lap and moved to pull the blindfold off her eyes.
“Who’s coming to save you?”
She clenched her jaw, “Nobody, I’ve gotta save myself.”
“And if mommy and I die today then what’s your job?” He asked,
“Pick up where you and mommy left off and take care of the crew because they’re my family.”
Cal paused for a moment before a proud smile overtook his face.
“Good job,” She set the rifle down on the table and he pulled her into a hug.
She grinned and hugged him back.
“I did good?”
“You did perfect princess,”
By the time she was six, she’d become best friends with a boy named Lincoln. By the time she was seven, they were inseparable.
One day, they entered Daisy’s house after school and Cal sat waiting at the table. Lincoln waved,
“Hey Mr. Johnson,” Cal smiled at the boy,
“Hey Lincoln, why don’t you head over to Daisy’s room. I need to talk to her.” Lincoln nodded,
“You got it.” He slipped his shoes off and set his bag down by the door before moving down the hallway. Her father waved her over and she sat down across from him at the table. She took note of the gun and empty mag sitting next to it between them.
“How was school?”
“It was good, I passed my english test.” She said, grinning with pride. He gave her a smile.
“Good. Now, I’m in danger and you have three seconds to save my life.”
Her mind quickly shifted into alert mode and she reached across the table for the mag and gun. She slammed the mag into the pistol, clicking the safety off and aimed over Cal’s shoulder. Quickly, she fired the empty gun.
It clicked softly and Cal chuckled.
“You’re getting better,” She grinned and set the gun down, “But-” He said, his voice becoming slightly more serious, “That was about four and a half seconds. It’s not a lot but it could mean the difference between saving me and avenging me.”
She nodded with all the the seriousness a seven year old could muster before he smiled at her and nodded towards her room.
“Go ahead and play. Your mother’s making burgers for dinner, go ask Lincoln if he wants to stay then let the blocks kids know they’re welcome by if they ask their parents.”
She grinned and skipped off towards her room.
It was raining on the day of her parent’s funeral. Lincoln stood beside her, his shoulder pressed tight against hers as tears slipped down her face.
Her godfather, a man named Gordon -who she scarcely knew except for the fact that he was her mother’s most trusted advisor- stood slightly behind her with a kind hand on her shoulder.
As the graves were lowered into the ground side by side Daisy’s quiet crying turned quickly into body shaking sobs.
It was raining on the day Daisy’s world crumbled.
She got into her first real fight when she was thirteen.
It was also the first time she was really discriminated against for where she lived.
An Eastsider named Werner and some of his buddies surrounded her on her way back home from school one day.
That was the first time she was thankful for the fact that Gordon acted more like a mentor than a father figure.
Werner went home with a black eye and Daisy went home with a new enemy.
Despite all her parents training when she’d been younger, she’d never fired a gun.
Gordon took her to a gun range when she graduated middle school as a sort of graduation gift.
As she stood down the range and aimed the pistol in her hand, she felt something in her calm.
This control was something she had craved since her parents were taken from her.
The irony wasn’t lost on her that the same kind of weapon she held in her hands was used to kill them.
She'd had a decent amount of self defense education from her parents as well as Gordon but her formal education began at 14.
The woman who taught her’s name was Melinda May. By the time Daisy was 16 she could fight off a man twice her size without breaking a sweat.
Daisy was scrambling around her room to grab her things as Elena’s voice called through her door.
“Daisy if you don’t get up Joey is going to leave without us and if I have to walk to school because of you again I’m going to kick your ass-”
She opened the door, a grin on her face.
“Let’s go then,” She said, slightly breathless.
Elena rolled her eyes and turned, walking down the hall of Gordon’s house and out the door. Daisy waved at her godfather who sat at the kitchen table.
“See you later, Gordon!”
“Text me if you’re going somewhere after school,” He yelled as she left the house. She raised her hand in a thumbs up so he could see and then closed the front door behind her. Elena was walking towards the passenger side door of Joey’s car -an old 2003 honda civic- when Daisy jogged towards her.
“Shotgun!” She called, darting past Elena.
The older girl gave her an unimpressed look but got into the back seat anyways. Daisy flashed a grin and climbed into the front seat. She dropped her backpack by her feet and nodded at Joey. She pulled her seatbelt on as he responded with a gentle “Hey,”
He started driving and stopped at Lincoln’s house. They waited for a minute before Lincoln left the house, his backpack swinging on one shoulder.
“Hey guys,” He said as he pulled his seatbelt on. They all replied with similar greetings before they fell silent. The only sound being the low music from the radio.
It was long before Joey and Elena began conversing quietly in spanish. Daisy let their voices fade into background noise as they drove through the worn down Westside streets.
The conditions of the road and houses better slightly the further away from their houses they drove.
Finally they arrived at the school and Joey stopped near the front door, letting them out so he could go park.
Lincoln walked with her as she made her way to their new homerooms.
“You think we’re gonna be outnumbered again this year?” He asked. Daisy sighed,
“Linc, we’re always outnumbered. There are more Eastsiders at the school.” He shrugged,
“That’s true but come on!” He said, a grin on his face, “Senior year, Daisy! Gotta hope for that fresh start.” She chuckled in response,
“I’m loving the optimism, Lincoln, it’s a great look on you,” She jested, bumping her shoulder into his. He gave her charming grin.
“Everything is a great look on me. I look great.” Daisy snorted at that.
“You had to go and ruin it didn’t you,”
She ignored his fake-wounded look and walked into what was going to be her homeroom for the rest of the year. She paused, taking a moment to take in the faces of those who were already in the room. It wasn’t everyone, probably about half of the total class.
She recognized most of them, Raina sat somewhere in the back, sketching something out. Robbie was off to the side by the windows, looking at something in the distance.
And that was it. Those two, her and Lincoln appeared to be the only Westsiders in the room.
She looked around a bit more and spotted Werner.
A bit more looking revealed Ward and Sunil sitting somewhat near the front.
There it was, the rare triple fuck.
Lincoln walked in beside her, scanned the room and scowled.
“Yeah,” She muttered, “That’s what I was thinking,”
He shook his head,
“Come on let’s just get some seats. They made their way towards the back of the class and sat down at the back row.
Daisy hooked her bag on her chair and leaned back, resting her feet on the edge of the desk.
She sat like that for a few minutes, scrolling through her phone as the classroom around her slowly filled up.
She felt Lincoln tap her leg,
“Who are those two?” She looked up from her phone in time to see two people enter the class.
Her eyes were drawn to the girl.
Fuck she was pretty.
She quickly averted her gaze when the girl looked in her direction and they made eye contact.
Turning to look at Lincoln she shrugged.
“Dunno,” She looked towards the front again where the duo had taken up residence in the front row, “They must be new.”
He nodded, “Yeah must be,”
She thinks she hears the boy call the other girl, “Simmons” in a heavy british accent but she’d deny if you asked.
She wasn’t paying attention to them.
Not at all.