It was a mark whose origin its owner, Turia, could not explain. For the majority of her seven years, Turia had always had it - a small, scimitar-shaped scar that curled around the outside of her right eye, almost perfectly tracing the orbital socket until it simply stopped a few millimeters underneath.
All that Turia's mother had ever said about it was that the girl was lucky to have her eye. What Turia would learn was that this one little blemish would indeed coincide with fickle fortunes over which she, like any mortal, had no control.
Turia's mother worked hard, doing things that the girl didn't understand when she saw them. Often, her mother was gone all night, staggering back in the morning sore and often drunk. Turia knew how to be quiet and stay out of the way and became masterful at doing so while her mother slept off the previous night's exertions.
Sometimes, her mother brought a man into the one-room hovel in the tenement where they lived. Again, Turia knew how to remain unseen and unheard as she watched the business carried out. These were strange things and with so much variation. The most puzzling thing was when the man's thing was hard and he pushed it between her mother's legs. Examining the modest slit that she possessed, Turia could not imagine how such a thing got in there. And then where would it go?
One morning, Turia's mother did not return. While uncommon, it wasn't the first time. It meant that Turia would be hungry today since her mother wouldn't give old Helvia downstairs a few coppers to fetch some bread and perhaps a scrap or two of other food.
On the second day, the landlord showed up instead, telling Turia to get out.
"Your whoring mother spread herself for the wrong man," he said, scratching himself idly. "Was found with her belly slit from cunt to throat like a gutted fish. In fact, it was out into the Tiber for her after they found her. So you go on, now. There's others who will pay for the room. And I'm keeping anything up there that's worth keeping as I'm owed for back rent."
"Hey, the girl's mother was paid up in full to the end of the week," Helvia protested. "And anything up there belongs to the kid."
The landlord turned on the old crone, wincing but not lashing out at her for reasons known only to him and her.
"I'm owed what's left for, er, the trouble," he said and then whirled back on Turia. "Go on, now. Get!"
Helvia called out something to Turia but the girl ran off sobbing. Her mother, dead? Where was she to go? And who would look after her? If her mother was sometimes gruff or short-tempered, she was still her mother and everything that home was to her.
Turia staggered in a daze, the familiar streets and residents of the Aventine now all completely alien to her.
"Watch it, you!"
Turia stopped before she nearly ran into the older girl. The girl was wearing a belted tunic that clung to her hips and showed two small bumps that marked the beginnings of her maturity. Sneering, the girl walked off in a huff, clutching a fresh apple.
Turia stood dumbly as she watched the girl and the fruit. Her hunger, borne of a day and a half without eating, at focused her to the here-and-now for the first time since the landlords' news in the morning. Now the shadows were long in the afternoon - longer still with autumn approaching.
Taking stock of her surroundings, Turia found herself standing next to a large theater where violent spectacles and less violent entertainment were held. The crowds were leaving and several other children were loitering after stepping out of the nearby gate.
"Never mind Prisca," another girl, perhaps a year younger than the first, said to Turia. "She thinks her cunny is the star of the show even if dozens of gladiators get killed. Are you looking for work here?"
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Mr Double's Palisade
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Changes last made on: Monday, April 03, 2017