As soon as Amaya began to get settled in and use the space she was in as if it were her own, things began to change. Ice cream stopped appearing in the freezer and she had to move on to canned soup, cereal, or bread and jam if she wanted to eat. New books appeared, but they weren’t used paperbacks slipped casually into her shelf, but rather a heavy, shiny hardcover textbook was left on the tabletop along with a notepad and pencils. Wary of anything different, she let the items sit where they’d been left for days before even examining them – choosing to eat her unfamiliar meals on the couch instead of move anywhere close to the foreign objects.When she finally did approach, she found a couple of pages in the notebook covered in puzzles – how to approach them was outlined in the book – and page upon page of pristine ruled pages. Since stories had stopped coming, she learned how to do each type of puzzle she was given. Sodokus and Crosswords (with the help of a big dictionary), word jumbles and connect-the-dots, puzzles with letters and numbers and colours and shapes; every morning there were new puzzles left for her. Birds that fly to roost at sundown, her grandpa’s cat, a vase of daffodils, the pond in the park, the colour of the sky on a clear night. These memories weren’t as clear as they used to be, bits and pieces of the real world, the world of Back Home, were drifting from her head and Amaya was determined to keep hold of the ones she had left. She plastered layer after layer of blues mixed with black to achieve just the right hue for the sky, spattered them with the barest amount of white and then carefully painted over the stars when they fell too heavy. By the time she finished, the canvas was soaked and warped but she was satisfied, she stepped back and eyed her masterpiece with pride before yawning widely and heading to bed, imagining it hanging on the wall. When she awoke, her before-bed dreams had become a reality, just not the one she had envisioned which was sort of the story of her life. “NO!” she attempted to cry, her voice too hoarse to let out more than a whisper. It had been a long time since she’d had anyone to talk to, she’d since decided to stop talking to Them, and recently stopped talking and singing to herself as well. “NO!” This one croaked, she was groggy despite having uninterrupted sleep, feeling weak, but would not be deterred. She cleared her throat violently and her next “NO!” rang through the room.
“NO NO NO! IT’S WRONG! I HATE YOU!!”
With a bound, she was up on the bed, feet tangled in the sheets and grabbing for the painting. The picture she had been so happy with the night before now angered her. Without planning to she tore it from the nail in the wall and flung it across the room. She watched as the image of her memories arced over the bookshelf and washing machines until i tcrashed against the shower, her blood boiling the whole time. The second it fell to the floor with a clatter, her fury dissipated into despair and she crumpled to the ground, promptly bursting into tears.
With the outburst of emotion, she finally realized how painfully lonely she was, stuck in a stark box with no one to talk to but people around. They had to be there and They never showed Themselves. Every morning she woke to proof that They had been in her room, bustling and tidying and hammering nails into her wall. All while she remained fast asleep. She missed her mom and her dad and her grandparents and cousins. She missed the smell of fresh air and the feeling of grass in her toes. She missed her doll house and playground and warm meals and hugs. She missed music and bed-time stories and her list went on. She cried and wailed until her chest hurt and she could no longer breathe.24 hours later she woke to the painting hanging on the wall above her table, which was where she’d left it the night before after recovering. It didn’t bring a smile to her face; it had looked better in her imagination. She felt listless and dull, unable to appreciate the sweet jam or the fact that They had done ‘what she’d asked.’ In fact, she rather resented it, balefully glaring at the picture throughout her meal. When she was done, she did some redecorating – moving both her pieces of art from where They had hung them. She put Memories where They had placed it the night before, and put Mommy in it’s place.And life went on. As usual. As normal. Wake, bathe, eat, read, do puzzles. Maybe don’t do puzzles. That’ll teach Them. Eat, paint, read, eat, sleep, wake. No new books appeared, no new food,and she didn’t really even paint as often, still subconsciously traumatized by her emotional and different day. Instead, Amaya began to write. Not a diary of her day or her thoughts, but a small novel of her day dreams, which soon evolved into stories. A whole world of colour existed in her mind. Sims who looked like Sims but in all the colours of the rainbow, with sugary sweet names who lived in a far-away world. So far removed from the real world, Amaya pictured a vivid world of twisty purple trees and geometric homes, of tall mesas and bubbling ponds. So clear were her visions of “Moonpie Mare” that they couldn’t stay in the black and white of her pencil scratchings for long. She began to itch to put her stories into pictures, remembering the multi-coloured pieces of art that graced the shiny pages of her favourite tales. Her first attempt to bring them to life was a mess, but she wouldn’t be discouraged. Each day dream she scribed into her notebook made her feel fulfilled, as if she were doing something. She had felt idle and ill at ease for so long, but by beginning to feel fulfilled, she began to relax.Amaya began to remember how to play. She’d let her imagination run wild, and soon the floor was lava. The couch was a car and her bed was her secret fort. She ran and laughed and played when she was tired of reading and writing and puzzling. Laughter felt so good, that once she started she never wanted to stop. Infected with good cheer, she didn’t always exercise the best judgement. A hazy recollection had come upon her and with it, inspiration. She dug into the bottom drawer of her dresser and pulled out a pristine, white sheet which she spread out on the ground. Concentrating hard with a paintbrush in hand, the outlines of a hopscotch court began to form on the fabric, and then the numbers. When it was dry, she made up her own way to play – which wasn’t too far off of the real way. Chortling with glee she leaped from one number to the next, in order, odds only, evens only, backwards and forwards, on one foot then the other. Oh when had she last had so much fun?! She hopped, skipped and jumped for hours on end, until the paint was flaking and sticking to the bottom of her feet and her legs were weary. Her body followed suit and Amaya trudged, fatigued, to her bed. Long before her usual bedtime, long before the lights usually turned out, she fell into a deep slumber with a peaceful smile on her face. In the morning her hopscotch court was gone. A furious look in the bottom drawer showed that not only was her game not folded inside, but it was empty, she could see down to the cheap wooden bottom. All the furniture was back in place and a heavy book was sitting on her table – not in the bookshelf where fun books went. She flipped through it at breakfast, but the pictures were all diagrams and there were a lot of words she didn’t understand. Without another thought, she slid it onto a shelf and set about her day of writing and painting and mourning the loss of her game. The morning following, she ate her breakfast on the couch, eyeing the tabletop with confusion. None of her dishes from the day before had been washed and they were starting to smell. That had never happened before. Obviously, They had been in the room, because the heavy book was back on the table exactly where it had been the previous day. She didn’t want to read it, she really, really, didn’t, but a quick look through her room showed that the sink hadn’t been cleaned, nor had the shower or toilet. With a great deal of unhappiness, Amaya picked up the book and settled into the couch. Each chapter taught her how to clean something, she learned about scrubbing and cleansers and hot water and cold. She learned that her life, locked up in a box of a room, was about to become much more work. Their message was clear: Cleanliness was up to the child who made the messes. Clever little Amaya quickly deduced that this was a punishment for the bedsheets, which had not reappeared.
And thus began a new chapter in Amaya’s life. From growing accustomed to growing comfortable, now she was being forced to grow up. Instead of leaving her dishes to sit out all day, she had to clean them herself. Now there were sponges and dish soap sitting under the sink. and when the bowl and faucet got too grimy and the drain was clogged up, it was Amaya who washed the scum away. When the toilet bowl stopped sparkling, she grabbed the bleach and the brush and set to work, wrinkling her nose in disgust the whole time. When it became clogged though, when gross water started filling the bowl instead of flushing down, Amaya got nervous. Nothing in her heavy book had prepared her for this. She almost thanked Them out loud when the next day the toilet was fixed, cleaned (she noted with great pleasure) and there was a book sitting next to it. Another heavy book. She tried to read it, but just didn’t understand and none of the tools she needed were around either. It covered fixing all the plumbing in her room and it was rather daunting. The morning the little stove appeared, a third heavy book at it’s side, was the first time Amaya got excited for one of these textbooks. She read each recipe thoroughly, only to find that They hadn’t stocked the kitchen with anything other than the ingredients for muffins. That didn’t damper her enthusiasm, and nor did the fact that the first dozen batches she attempted burned to a crisp and left her room smelling for days.When the sink broke, months later, spraying water all over the room, Amaya still didn’t know what to do. She had read the second heavy book over and over, even when new and better books arrived, but there were no tools to use and she was pretty sure she needed a wrench. Before long, the tiles in front of the sink were slick and Amaya had retreated to the couch to escape the frigid liquid. She watched with dismay as her kitchen floor became a pool and then a pond and then she was distracted. Emitting from somewhere behind her was a hissing sound. It raised the hair on the back of her neck and goosebumps ran down her arms. She was no longer worried about the swimming pool, rather about the monster under her bed. Peering along the carpet did no good, there was no light under there to see by and this monster clearly was not of the glowy-eye variety. Nevertheless, the hiss was distinctly coming from under the bed. When she woke up – though she didn’t remember falling asleep, the last thing she remembered was the sink breaking after lunch and the monster under the bed – the sink was no longer broken. It wasn’t even dripping any more. Sitting next to the sink was the same heavy book she couldn’t use. She scowled at it, and then scowled at the floor where a puddle still filled the center of her kitchen. She would have fixed it if she could, would have stopped this stupid puddle. Now she had to clean it up anyways. Needless to say, Amaya was not pleased. She was tired and confused
and grouchy and didn’t want to clean anymore. She just wanted to go home, and since that was clearly not an option – not after what might have been years of captivity – she just wanted to be left alone to read and write and paint. She tried not to rely on Them for anything anymore. She’d figured out muffins and now they were all she ate, ignoring the prepackaged foods provided. At least she’d worked for her muffins and they tasted better than bread and jam ever could.