Margot kept a shiv under her pillow.
For her eleventh birthday, her father had given her a set of crudely-made hairpins. She had no use for them anymore, so over the course of four years, she had gradually sharpened one of the sticks to a deadly point. She slept with one hand curled around the handle and her thumb pressed against the point. Father Josiah hadn't come for her since she had given birth three years before, but she wasn't taking any chances. If ever she felt that soft tap on her shoulder again she would shiv him right in the eye. She dreamed about it all the time--the crack, the spurt, the satisfaction.
Father Josiah's harem rose just before dawn for their daily meditation. All the women sat cross-legged on their sleeping mats and blankets with their eyes closed, each humming the exact same pitch while Josiah walked among them, chanting and whispering affirmations, laying his hands on the sickly, the pregnant, the old. While the tall, rakish man spoke softly to a girl called Belle, Margot cracked one eye and peeked at the babies. Rosa and Bridgette were each holding an infant while Margot's own mother, snivel-faced Rebecca Hogsback, had gathered a ring of toddlers around her. Sitting on her knees was her grandson, quiet little Ferrin, dark-haired, freckled, chewing on his fingers. She quickly shut her eyes again, imagining the weight of the shiv in her hand.
Once the meditations were over, the women folded up their blankets and set about to their morning tasks--various shades of dull domesticity. Margot did not bother with any of that. She didn't work well with others, and besides...she really had to take a piss. There was always someone in their tiny, one-person outhouse--someone dealing with their woman's cycle, someone taking forever with their morning shit--so she walked out to the side of the road, dropped her britches, and squatted. She sighed in relief as the sooty ground underneath her darkened, dampened, puddled. The sun was just rising, hammered copper above the wreckage of District Twelve, and a gaggle of coal miners trouped past on their way to their work, each holding a grimy helmet. One of them jostled his companions and pointed to the squatting teenager, snickering.
"Yer a charmer, Margie!" he hollered at her as the whole company burst into boyish calls and jeers. Margot flipped them off.
"Fuck off before I cut off your balls!" she called back, her urine stream never faltering.
"Marry me!" one of the miners called over his shoulder as they turned a corner and disappeared.
"Bite me!" Margot retorted, standing up and shimmying her trousers back up around her waist, scowling.