It wasn’t the first time Kamilah had worn the blood of an enemy. Whenever her father’s ship docked, she had a way of finding trouble.
For the most part, she was free to wander the area, as long as she returned before sundown. Her father always threatened to leave her behind if she wasn’t on time and she never wanted to test those waters.
Sometimes she’d help her father in the capture of his slaves. They had a very cruel way of doing it but she enjoyed the game. He’d have her sit in a public area and cry until a stranger came up to help her. She always had a story made up of losing her mom in the crowd or getting her groceries stolen. Something to really pull at the heart strings of men. See, if a woman came up, she would run off. Her father never took women or children, fearing that it could happen to his own family.
So Kamilah would sit and cry in a town square until a suitable choice arrived and then the game would be on. She’d ask for help locating her mother or finding the people that stole her goods and usually they would help. If they were unwilling she simply let them go and try again.
When they agreed to help, she’d set off “looking” for whatever her story had been for the day. She’d wander about some streets, slowly getting to the less busy ones, knowing her father or his crew were close behind.
A few times the men she took had thought they’d make off with her instead, thinking that they weren’t in a trap, but she was. Those men were always hit hardest and fed the least on the ship, her father making sure they payed for for their unkind thoughts.
There were times though where her father had business with people he didn’t want Kamilah involved with and he would give her a few coins and let her wander the coastal city or town.
More often than not she’d run into a group of children her own age, playing in the streets or alleys. As there were no other children on the ship, Kamilah would become shy and unsure of how to act around them, suddenly conscious of her browned, sunburnt skin and matted hair.
Sometimes the children would let her play and she would lose herself in the excitement of children’s games of make-believe, always rushing back to the ship out of breath and full of stories for her father.
But other time the children would bully her. Making fun of her speech, or her hair, tease her for not having her mom around and a number of other dirty comments about her father and his crew and what they probably did with her.
It was those times that Kamilah’s true character came out. She’d give someone a solid thrashing, always leaving their face badly bloody and badly bruised. And as the other children would back away from this panting, untouched heathen of a child, she would smear the blood of her victim across her face and shout her name so that they’d always remember her name and spread the word of her fearless fighting.
On those days when she’d return to her ship, she wouldn’t say anything. Her father would wash the blood from her face and try unsuccessfully to get her to explain what had happened. He always noticed that she’d managed to remain unscathed and even though he never told her, he was immensely proud that she could handle herself.
She never fought with the girls, as they were always too scared of the wild look in her eyes, but the boys always seemed to want to fight. One fight in particular always stood out for her. She had been about 14 in some town she couldn’t remember, when her father had told her to go out and enjoy herself.
She went to the market first, always loving to sample the local food because of the unique flavors each place had. It got old eating basically the same meals for a month. After gorging herself on yet another spicy fish dish, she wandered around, licking her fingers and looking for kids to play with. At this point she knew how to approach them, she just needed to find some first.
This city happened to have a nice little park, with sand and tropical trees all about, for people to walk through or picnic in, or play hide and seek. As she walked she could hear laughter in the trees and went for a peak, trying to locate the source. Finally she realized the children were playing in the trees above her. She climbed up and called out to them.
" ’Lo there! Can I join?"
The laughter in the area came to silence. A boy about her age hung down in front of her, his knees wrapped around a higher branch. His bright blue eyes met hers and his arms folded over his chest.
“And who might chyoo be?” He asked, his tone clearly insolent.
“My name is Kamilah, my father brought me into tha city for an errand. I wos wonderin’ if I could play with you?” She asked again, hopefully.
The boy slowly dropped himself onto the branch next to her. He was better at this than she was, her dad rarely allowed her to play in the rigging at this age. He glanced her over in a way she was used to seeing her father do with slaves. He was sizing her up, trying to determine her value.
“Wot say I fightchu first? You seem tough, I see you’ve got scars on yer hands, might be thatchu get in fight a lot. Let’s make sure you can defend yourself.” And with that he lunged at her, taking them both off the branch and onto the ground, the wind knocking out of her as she landed. She struggled for breath before standing.
The trees came alive again, children yelling encouragements at the boy. “Hit ’er good Marceth!” echoed around her. No one cheered for her, but she was used to it.
He lunged at her again, now that they were squared off, but she moved out of the way at the last second. Or so she though, he’d grabbed a hold of her pants and plopped her down onto her rear, again, knocking the breath from her. She gasped a few unsteady breaths before standing once more.
“She can’t even fight!” He jeered back into the trees, laughing loudly, taking his eyes off her.
And that was when she struck. Marceth hadn’t seen her stand up with a fistful of sand, but he definitely noticed when he was hit full in the face with it. He sputtered, trying to spit it out and get it out of his eyes. Her cursed her as he struggled. And then she really attacked. She flew at him, throwing punching and scratching at his face. She punched low, forcing him to double over and allowing her to hit him squarely in the face, probably breaking his nose. He screamed and struck blindly, never being able to grab on.
She knocked him down and straddled him, wailing away at his head. She managed to grab onto his ear and he began really screaming. She only saw red. Someone bigger pulled her off, but she didn’t see them. She touched her left hand to her face, wiping his blood across it, screaming at them all to dare to forget her name as she turned and ran. Marceth lay there sobbing and clutching at his head while his friends crowded around.
Later, as her dad silently washed the blood from her face, he tried to get her to answer questions. He saw, once again, that she was unscathed and finished up in silence. As he started to leave her small room, she spoke out.
He turned back to face her. Her hand was outstretched, in it, a child’s ear. She never played with children again.