This is the first part of an ‘interlude’ to The Clarke Legacy. If you’ve read the previous chapters I know you’ll be able to see how the two stories are intertwined. I hope not to take nearly as long with the second half.
“Mommy!” The young girl screamed as the door slammed shut behind her. Her voice was hoarse and her eyes had long since run out of tears to cry. She didn’t look around the room she was in, just focused on the heavy door and began to alternate pounding her small fists against the unyielding metal and jiggling the equally stubborn doorknob. Locked. “I want my Daddy! I want to go home! Let me out! LET ME OUT!!”
The only response to her pleas was the sound of those pleas, echoed back to her as they rang off the walls of the room that was her prison. As her ragged screams collapsed into tearless, wrenching sobs the girl crumpled to the floor. Aside from the noises she was making, the room was silent and, for all intents and purposes so was the world. There was no hum of electronics, no sound of dripping water, no televisions mumbling somewhere in the distance or radios playing the latest hits. Exhausted and surrounded by silence, the tiny heroine of this story slept her first night in her new life curled up on the floor and dreaming of home.
At a happier point in the night she had been Amaya Sowl, safe in the backyard of her parents house while Daddy cooked a late dinner and Mommy pushed her on her brand new swing set. The moon had been bright and the sky cloudless and as she swung higher and higher she felt like she was flying, she imagined she was on a rocket ship headed straight to the stars and screamed with glee as air whipped through her hair. She loved when the sun went down because it meant it was play time! Time to escape the confines of her house and time to frolic with the grass cold between her toes, time to pretend that her pale skin and eyes weren’t too sensitive for direct sunlight, time to pretend she was just a normal girl who could do normal girl things in her normal girl backyard with her parents who, well, her parents were always normal. Neither one of them was albino but they loved their white haired daughter all the same.
Then, the happy was gone. Mommy screamed shrilly and briefly behind her and she was plucked off of the swing and flung roughly over someone’s shoulder. Daddy had gone inside to grab the dishes and was still an outline in the kitchen window; an outline that turned at his wife’s scream and started to run at his daughter’s echo but by then, it was too late. The last thing she saw as she was whisked away from her safe, warm, loving home was the motionless body of her mother, splayed on the grass beneath her swing set.
She felt like she was carried for hours, draped over a bony shoulder that raced faster than the wind through the fields and forests of Sunset Valley. Her body ached, her bones and her skin and her joints and she was scared! So scared! But no matter how she cried and how she screamed, her abductor didn’t stop. He… She? Didn’t say anything, didn’t show their face, didn’t do anything other than run and carry her through the darkness that, up until tonight, had been her safe time, her happy time. Now, for the first time, Amaya was afraid of the dark and the creatures that inhabited it.
She woke up cold and sore, the floor beneath her little body was hard and she felt bruised, battered and exhausted from the night before. Sitting up, she peered around her cage and promptly burst into tears again. She hadn’t been dreaming, it was not a nightmare, this was not home. “I WANT TO GO HOME!” she shrieked into the little room and for a second, she thought she heard something more than her own voice coming back to her. But only for a second. With some effort, she rose to her feet and stepped further into the room, terrified by what she saw. Terrified because she couldn’t understand.
The room was big. And full. But small. And empty. Everything she recognized from her home was here, but it wasn’t hers. She had a bed at home too, but it was bigger and prettier. The fridge at home gave her water from it’s front, this one didn’t. She recognized the stove, Mommy used theirs nearly every day, but she wasn’t allowed to touch it. She had a washer and dryer too, but no idea how to use them. So much everything was in this little space. Back home there were walls between rooms, now there was just one room. One room without personality, without comfort, without her teddies or toys or clothes or books or Mommy or Daddy. Was she being punished? She didn’t think so… So why was she locked in this windowless room?
Slowly, Amaya backed away from the room, gazing around it as if it were the dragon’s den and she was caught inside and waiting for the dragon to return. Her shaking little shoulders hit the wall and she followed it’s line down to the floor, pressing herself into a ball in the corner on the scratchy carpet. For hours she sat, staring dully at the plain space around her and contemplating life in a way that a young girl should never have to. Would she ever see her mom again? Or her dad? Oh she missed them so much! What time was it? Was it her time or day time? Sitting curled in the corner, helpless thoughts flooding her mind, hunger ripping through her little belly, and fear paralyzing her, Amaya began to sob again. She cried for an eternity, only feeling the loss, fear, and anguish that had consumed her life literally overnight. It wasn’t until her tears subsided that she noticed the floor she was sitting on was damp and smelling. Overwhelmed by emotions (now that shame was in the mix) and the stench rising from the fibers of the carpet and her shorts, Amaya dragged herself around the patch of floor she’d soiled and over to the strange bed on the other side of the room. She had planned to never use the facilities provided to her – not the bed or the shower or the fridge or the toilet. They’d have to let her out soon. But that was a child’s logic and not an exhausted child at that. Without a thought, she flopped down onto the crisp bedding and fell into a deep, and thankfully dreamless, sleep the moment her head hit the pillow.
The young girl awoke with a jolt, and a certainty that something was wrong flooded through her before she’d opened her eyes. Scrambling out from under the covers she’d fallen asleep on top of, she considered the strange, cloying, floral smell in the room – the room that wasn’t hers and she shouldn’t be in – before she noticed the pyjamas she was wearing. The ones that weren’t hers and that she shouldn’t be in. Sleep-addled and emotionally drained as she was, Amaya was smart enough to quickly put two and two together: Someone had been in this room with her last night. They had cleaned the carpet, changed her clothes and tucked her into bed. All without waking her.
A quiet, hopeful cry emitted from Amaya as she dashed to the door; a smile almost crossed her lips as her fingers wrapped around the cool metal of the doorknob and she twisted at it confidently. It didn’t budge. She twisted the other way and then back, wrenching it from one side to the other as if to break through by sheer force of will. All to no avail. Her hand slammed against the wood grain of the door, hard enough for it to rattle in the jamb and for her palm to sting. Again and again she beat against the barricade, time and again she shook at the immobile door knob, but deep down she knew it was no good. She just couldn’t give up on getting out, couldn’t turn around and face the room whose walls were closing in on her by the second, claiming her as their own. Blisters had begun to form on her hands before she stepped back to examine the space surrounding her. She was trying not to listen to the voice in her head that told her to accept her fate, that nothing she could do would change it.
No. No! One more act of defiance. One more cry for the attention that hadn’t yet come (while she was awake) despite her noise making and demands. They were watching her and keeping her. They’d taken her from her family and then even taken her clothes away. They were trying to take her away! For the first time since she was unceremoniously removed from her swing set, saw her mother lying motionless in their yard, and was dumped in this sterile cell, Amaya was angry.
Amaya was wrathful and full of rage and still a child who didn’t know how to just let it out. Still pining after her pretty pink shirt, she yanked the dresser drawer open violently and stared into the stark white piles of clothes neatly folded within. No jeans, or plaids, or frills or bows. Amaya saw red. She tore the shirts and shorts from the drawer, flinging them behind her and never watching to see where they land, all while screaming like a banshee. Then the next drawer and the next, littering the floor behind her with cotton until there was nothing left and the dresser had been deemed to heavy to move. Breathing heavily, out of tears, and with an incredibly sore and hoarse throat, the floor suddenly looked very comfortable, very welcoming. Sighing softly, she lowered herself down, stretched out on the patch of carpet that should smell like she did (gross) and fell fast asleep.
Waking to a new day (maybe?) brought Amaya some depressing clarity. First, she couldn’t sleep on the floor anymore. Second, like it or not, she was stuck there.