Flash Fiction: What Dag Sees

[Ana's Note: I was stuck in bed this evening when the new meds made me dizzy (and possibly sick with vertigo, though we're not 100% sure if that's the right word to call it because it wasn't so much spinning as a heavy leaden head), so I wrote this for no real reason. Minor content notes for Mad Max themes, but I don't think this got too explicit.] 

It wasn't just that the new girl was pretty.

They were all pretty, in their own ways. Splendid was gorgeous, so beautiful that even her scars couldn't mar her. You didn't even notice them half the time, not when she so effortlessly commanded your full attention. It was something in the way she carried herself, that unwavering certainty that drew people in. As if the world itself had been made to bend to her wishes. When she spoke, when her eyes flashed with that deep self-assurance, it was impossible not to believe in her vision. Joe had liked that about her once, before her vision diverged too much from his established order. Yet even after he'd locked her in the vault and ordered her silence, he never forgot the power in those flashing eyes.

The others, too, were beautiful. Capable, with her bright hair and caring gaze. He'd taken her from the medicine-tents the day he first laid eyes on her. Swept her right out of the Hospitality as she was setting a broken leg, saying he needed her tending more than the common rabble did. Had set her to work with ointments and cures, begging her to heal his boils in that sickly-sweet voice he could take. She'd worked on him in her careful kind way, her gentle touch tempered with cautious distance. All for naught, of course; once she'd tended to his back, he required tending of a different nature. She'd gone into the vault with the rest of his treasures, and if the world lost a valuable surgeon that day, Joe hadn't cared.

Then there was Toast. She'd been passing through, a stranger in a traveling caravan. Friends and companions, she'd thought, but once they realized their options were to sell her to Joe or helplessly watch her be taken, they'd taken the offered bullets and milk eagerly enough. Traitors. She hadn't cried; her wise eyes were sad, but tears didn't spill. Perhaps she'd known all along how cruel the world would be to her. She wore her hair short, jagged and straight. A pixie cut, the older women used to call it. Dag would watch her sometimes when she wasn't looking, waiting for gossamer wings to ripple out of her back so that she could fly away to freedom. They never did. Just as well, Dag supposed; she didn't know what gossamer was.

Was Dag pretty? She didn't care. Men, the ones who wanted her, would compare her eyes to stormy skies and her hair to pale cornsilk. Then when she wouldn't touch their schlanger they'd call her an ugly bitch and a worthless whore. Showed what stupid smeg they were; Dag knew good and well how to fuck for money, and she knew precisely how much she was worth. More, so much more, than those smeg could afford. More than Joe was willing to pay. A real god would be generous, Dag remembered musing as he had her dragged away; a real god wouldn't want everything she had for nothing in return. She hadn't been able to cut him that day, but she'd carved a goodly hole into one of his warriors. He'd liked that, liked feeling like she was dangerous. His deadly Dag, overpowered by his might.

She let him call her that, owning the name she'd not chosen. Why not, when it was so appropriate? She'd stick a dag in him one day, and she'd grin in his face as she twisted the knife. Let him call her pretty then.

The newest one was pretty, just as the rest of them. Cheedo, she'd said her name was. Because he was a fool, Joe had called her Fragile. That was what she was to him, fragility in the shape of a woman. He saw her youth, her cringing fear, her delicate purity. Things men valued that had nothing to do with who you were. He didn't see the things that made her herself. Her unshakable determination when she'd sit in silence for hours, weaving those tiny braids through her long dark hair. The naked outrage she couldn't hide from her face each time she was confronted with the ugly unfairness of the world. The deep sincerity that led her to argue with the other wives once she was sure they wouldn't hurt her. Little things, yes, but things she cared about: the minute details in a fairy story she'd been told, or tiny discrepancies in the histories they each half-remembered. She'd argue, her small voice gaining strength from her passion, and Dag would watch and see all the things that Joe didn't.

Cheedo's beauty wasn't simply physical. She was pure--a purity that had nothing to do with with Joe cared about, and everything to do with her spirit. Watching her feel things, seeing the intensity of her emotions, made Dag remember all that she felt once, before Joe had locked her away and she'd grown bitter and cynical to survive. The bright wideness of Cheedo's eyes whenever Splendid told another story; the rippling cringe around her sweet mouth when Capable would tell the others how to sew up a wound; the hard outrage arching her dark eyebrows whenever Toast told how her friends sold her away. Dag would watch her with eyes that missed nothing, and could never be sure whether she wanted to kiss Cheedo or become her.

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[Normal fan-fiction disclaimers apply: I don't own the copyright to these characters; this is not an official endorsed work; this piece is posted under Fair Use guidelines as non-profit and a tiny portion of the whole work. If you hold the copyright and object to this story being published online, send me an email and I will take it down.]

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