The beginning... A story with no name yet.
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
“Maya, get up now, it’s time to get ready!” The voice was serious and stern. It came from the other room but was loud enough to wake her up. To Maya, the voice was familiar and yet she felt that it was lacking the human quality that used to be there.
Maya lay in her bed awoken by this demand. A feeling of fear and sadness that she had never felt before filled her body. She felt heavy and wished that she could return to the realm of dreams where she often felt more safe and free. She had no concept of how long she had been staring at her ceiling for in terror but she knew every splinter of wood grain as though they were her friends. If a knot were missing, she’d know it. An invisible weight pressed on Maya’s chest as the voice called to her again demanding for her to rise. “Get up now and get ready!”
Still she lay in bed, unable to move. Her blanket felt itchy on her skin and wasn’t long enough cover her tiny feet. A cool morning breeze rattled through the bottom of her window as it crept through the holes of her raggedy blanket that she had her whole short life. The cracks in the wood ceiling imprinted their image in her mind as she thought about how this would be the last time that she see them with her eyes. She didn’t particularly love the ceiling above her bed but it had become a constant companion to her when she lay awake at night unable to sleep. The patterns in the grain seemed to dance at times and she would imagine what the tree used to look like before it was turned into her ceiling.
Her door swung open, jolting her our of her daze and causing her heart to clench.
“Maya, this is an important day and not one where you can be fooling around like this. Now, get your uniform on and come into the dining room for some food before it’s time to go.”
It was her mother but something seemed different. Maya had memories of playing with her mom in the woods near her house. They would talk about the shapes of the flowers, their sweet scents and make up different names for them that usually related to their size and colours of their petals. There was Teeny Tiny Sunny, Big Fat Ocean, Swirly Whirly Night Sky and so many more that had now become a faint. memory. Even her mother’s laugh was now so distant from her in her mind that she wondered if she had made it all up in her dreams.
The mother that stood before her now in her doorway was much more serious than the mother she went to the forest with. Maya couldn’t understand why she had changed but she knew it made her heart feel achy.
“ Yes mother, I’m sorry. I’ll prepare immediately.” Maya said these words as she pulled herself out of bed.
Her mother looked at her with a distant sadness in her eyes and said “I’ll expect you shortly then.” She then left and closed the door behind her.
Maya had been told for years that her 5th birthday would be an important one. When children turn 5, they are gathered from their homes by village leaders where they are then taken to the Institution of Impact. She was told this where children learn about their world and how to be a proper villager. An older villagers who knew Maya would be turning 5 soon would pinch her cheeks and say “look at you growing up! Soon you’ll be a big girl and learn how to be a proper villager!” She seemed excited about this, but Maya didn’t feel excited in the slightest. “A proper villager?” She wondered what that really meant. When Maya looked around at the adult villagers, they all seemed sad, bored and angry in contrast to the other kids her age that would run about and laugh for what seemed like no reason at all. There were no kids in the village unless they were under 5 years old and children would return from the Impact Institute after their 20th birthday. She had seen some of them come back and although she never knew them as children, she knew part of them was missing. Nothing that could be seen, but something that could be felt.
If being a proper villager meant changing like that, Maya wanted no part of it. She couldn’t understand why she had to go or why her mother would force her to go away like this.
Maya hadn’t seen her father since she was 3. She only had vague memories of him sitting in a chair by a weak fire, drinking drinks that he made in barrels in the backyard. She would ask him to play with her but he would be so caught up with the flames that danced in front of his eyes that he barely noticed little Maya’s requests. Something seemed to be missing from him too but she didn’t have words to describe what any of that really meant.
Maya saw her uniform folded up on a small chair in the corner of her room. She picked up the pants and shirt and held them against her body as she imagined what would happen to her at the Institution of Impact. The shirt was black and had the Institution’s red logo embroidered on the chest. As she tried to make sense of the symbol on the logo she was unexpectedly interrupted by a voice faintly saying “don’t go”. Spinning around to scan her room, she saw nothing and wondered if the voice was her own. After all, this was how she felt. She wished so badly that her mom would come back in and say “Maya, let’s run away to the forest and never look back!” But all she had was this imaginary voice telling her not to go.
Maya began to take off her pyjamas so she could change into her uniform. As she was about to put on the ironed black pants, she head the same voice again but louder saying “Don’t put on the uniform! Run to the forest!” Now Maya felt sure that this voice couldn’t be her own, yet it sounded so familiar. Her heart began to race and suddenly it was as if someone else had taken control over her body. She went to her dresser and pulled out some usual day clothes ; leggings cut off below the knee, a tattered green skirt and a once white cotton shirt with long sleeves. The uniform left in a pile on the ground as she searched for and found a small back pack in the bottom of her dresser. She stuffed it with some more clothes and her blanket friend. Her shoes were at the entrance of her house so she knew she would have to leave them behind. There was one item that called to her still, a stone bear carving that her mother had given her last year on her 4th birthday. Still feeling controlled by another force, she knew what she had to do and she knew she would have to be quick. Maya stood on her toes as she reached up to grab the bear sculpture that was resting on her dresser. It felt almost too heavy for her to cary, but she felt a surge of power rush through her as support.
Taking one last look around her room she said quietly saying goodbye to her mom. Then she used all her strength and threw the bear at her widow, smashing the glass and creating an exist. The now shattered window looked out of the back of her house which faced the forest. As soon as she created her exist, Maya climbed through what she imagined as a portal to a new dimension. She felt glass cut into her skin but she had no time to worry about the pain. Jumping down to the ground bellow wasn’t far because her whole house was only one floor high. As soon as her feet hit the grass beneath her, she ran towards the forest as fast as she could. The same familiar voice called to her again saying “run! Don’t look back!” She didn’t look back but she felt tears flowing from her eyes as she thought about her mom.
The grassy field went on for what felt like hours even though she knew that it didn’t take that long to get to the forrest. The sun was still rising, mist hung low over the field and dewy grass painted her bare feet. Soon the field turned into forest, the dewy grass turned into mud and branches. She continued to run, hurdling over fallen trees and dodging rocks.
Eventually a pain grew in her lungs and body and she had to stop to catch her breath. Maya collapsed beneath a tall tree and almost immediately passed out from exhaustion.
... to be continued ...