Standing still in the centre of the square the girl with no name, screamed silently.
Each of the villagers in turn, crumbled over, mimicking the various deformed statues that lay outside of the village boundary. Only seen from afar, no one questioned where they came from or how they seemingly arrived to the spot they were transfixed to, that was until this very moment.
In the moment of the silent scream each of the villagers realised that what they had seen from afar was their future, every surreal statue not only represented each villager, but was actually them, them in the future. How could no one have seen it? Absolutely no-one!
The girl with no name had arrived the week previously, on the night of the storm. That night the wind, vicious in its temperament, whipped through each of the village houses, leaving not one unscathed in some manner.
Never previously, in any of the oral history had a wind so strong in its will to decimate the village ever been spoken off.
There had been tragedy of course; then again when you are the people of the wind, there is a price to pay. Transient, brutal, vicious, then calm, gentle in its caress the people of the wind, knew only this world, and in order to preserve it, gifts were offered, sections of crops, artefacts crafted by their greatest artisans, but on the year of the red bull, the year the crops failed, a decade ago everything changed.
A day so fresh in everyone’s mind, never spoken off, but whispered beneath the surface, on that day a new born baby, fresh from its mother’s womb was laid on the table as a gift, broken the mother’s heart stopped beating as the wind swept the child into the air, sucking her into a swirling vortex before going silent.
A silence, which had now lasted a decade: The mother buried outside the village, unmarked, unspoken off, as the unsettling peace grew into normality. A mutually unspoken secret never mentioned, not once.
What did it matter? The village idiot questioned, what did it matter?
By six months she was definitely showing. How she was with child was the main topic of conversation on everyone’s tongues. No one could possibly have wanted her! Only the idiot was tolerant enough to spend part of his day with her.
The only crime she had committed was to be mediocre, not in ability; by far she had the finest of singing voices, but in looks. Beyond plain, bordering unpleasant, and those comments was only used in circles that accommodated, to their own beliefs, the idea that the were forgiving, understanding, virtuous. It other circles, the venom that spewed from the righteously inclined was noxious.
How dare she not maintain the genetic predisposition of the villagers? She was a break with tradition, an anomaly that could be tolerated, but from a distance. Even the village idiot was bestowed with the pleasant chiseled features of their distinguished lineage.
Now someone in the village had betrayed the sacred ideology they had all held dear, and had impregnated the mediocre.
AND THIS WAS INTOLERABABLE.
She cried incessantly for the first three months of her life. Cried before feeding, cried after feeding, cried when sleeping, cried when she was crying, not that any of the wind dooers minded, to them her voice had a similarity to the low rolling thunder on a late summer’s evening. Presumptive of the inclement weather to come, but misleading for after the storm there was still no calm.
Yet three months later the crying showed no signs of abating, leaving no choice but to abandon this young sacrificial girl again. This time back to her own kind, people, surely people would know what to do with her.
And so the handing over of the young girl began, from one to another, transactional for many different reasons, beneficial to giver and recipient but never once for the girl.
By the age of three, she stood tall, strong and silent. There were no tears left, not for her mother, the village who had abandoned her, the wind that protected her as she cried, the many people who had passed her on, too ugly, too pretty, too small, too female… She had many words thrust upon her, and every single one of them had absolutely no meaning. No absolute meaning to anyone but the speaker.
So at the age of three, she walked away, watched by the wind, chased by the breeze, and understanding only that she was unwanted.
Lamentations, the bitterest of tunes sweetened only by Maria’s voice, spilled from the pig shed, where she worked.
Day to day, she cared for them, made sure they were well fed, cuddled their young and soothed the pain of the elders pigs as the lost their fattened children, one at a time.
On his way to the watchtower, Jack the village “catch”, known for his looks and his looks alone, stopped to listen.
Swallowing her tune deep into his belly, he would swear, if he were caught, that he had suffered from blindness. It was the only malady he could feasibly conjure as his thoughts turned to Maria.
Her sweet song rendered him helpless, deeply in love with an idea, the idea of drifting away in her arms, caressing her lips and throat, possessing the sound only she, of all the people in the village, was able to create.
But, she was untouchable, vile, too ugly to consider, but for her song. The tune in his belly slowly turned to anger, how dare she, she was not worthy and what type of feeling had she made him feel. Ashamed, his anger deepened, and at the very same moment, as if taunting, her voice filled all the air around him.
He stopped still, just for a split second before turning in the direction of the pig shed, watched only by the village idiot.
Each to their own and each to their place was the motto carved into the totem styled pole that stood upright and strong at the exact center point of the village.
Every villager, if they so chose, could stand with their back pressed flat to the pole any where on its circumference, and if they started walking from that point, at exactly one hundred furlongs the boundary of the village would end in every direction.
A perfect circle, bound up inside a perfect circular wall, smooth to touch, and as tall as tall could be. The wall, grey, stark and very familiar.
Of course everyone knew what was outside the wall, designed to protect them, they still has the choice to see through it. All anyone had to do was touch it and the stark grey solidity would give way to a hazy transparency through which the world outside the village could be seen.
In its early days, the villagers often took trips to the boundary wall to view the other side, watch the drama unfold, see the crazy stories wash over the unknowing, see the unnecessary be necessary.
But as each way reaches its limit, moods change, the zeitgeist of the outside no longer held any appeal. The villagers moved on, changed, no longer related to a previous history.
As predicted by the Village elders, inside the wall time and interests separated the villagers from those outside, until eventually beyond the wall held no appeal to anyone.
“I couldn’t be holding with that child, I can tell you, I first met her when the social worker delivered her to my door, you see at the time I was fostering. No-one knew her exact age, no record of her birth, but by estimates, I suppose she could have been about five?
She had been founding wandering down by the docks area, didn’t speak, wild eyed. She was taken into care immediately. How long she’d been there wasn’t clear, but what was clear, abundantly clear, was this child was more that the normal ‘different’, if you get what I mean? It was all written into the report, you know that one I filled out on the day they took her away. I did try, but with two other kids, what could I do?
I had her two weeks; just two weeks and it took years to undo the destruction she caused. The worst thing though was the sound of her silence, the deafening sound of her silence.”
Maya, folded the report document in half and slipped it into her pocket, she was sure no one was watching, at the bottom of the sheet, the foster mother’s name and address was scribbled in barely legible handwriting but it was a start. If Maya was to find her, she needed every lead she could lay her hands on.
The night she arrived the storm preceding her tore the village asunder, trees were uprooted, fences laid to waste, roofs ripped from their wooden beams. The villagers huddled in the only storm shelter, initially designed for three hundred souls, packed with a thousand, sardined together, breathing slow and laboured, the whole unit visibly aware of each individual’s breath on the packed room. Some passed out, propped up by their neighbour or family member, a blessing, or so thought of by the petrified village members left with the burden of being wide awake.
Then as suddenly as the storm started it abated and there was an eerie calm silence. A mass hysteria of reluctance enveloped the awakened villagers, frozen limbs, no movements, the double wooden doors to the storm shelter opened and there she stood. A young girl, maybe nine or ten, with a shock of chin length black hair, cut blunt with a sharp fringe, giving emphasis to her dark saucer like brown eyes and pale as pale skin.
She moved forward, tilted her head to the left and smiled, gathering their anguish and fear up in that single motion, there was a collective sigh of relief followed by an out pouring of emotion. Tears filled the eyes of even the hardest spirited villager and as they poured out from the storm shelter, each in turn touched the young girl as they passed, making their way to their homes. That night villagers slept the deepest, soundest sleep of their lives, nothing mattered there was no past, no now, only tomorrow, and that was yet to come.
The wind doorers only intervened when they had to, the collective hive mind agreeing, never disagreeing. Making their way from village to village, serendipitously structuring interventions to create a pathway to a thought process.
Each and every villager in each and every village, guided to believe, believe in their world and its permanence.
Unflinching in their belief of their magnanimity the dooers worked tireless in their interventions. A child cried, it meant something, the search for why? It was their job to satisfy, satiate the child with an endless supply of things it needed, a new bed to sleep in, new clothes, new ideas, belief in the now, uncaring for a future disconnected from their needs only.
Each and every child, grown to an adult, from village to village followed this path, the dooers were faithful to their role in the scheme of things, until the day they had to bring up their own child, the child sacrificed to them to bare witness to the villagers unflinching beliefs that their path was the one true path and there was no other…
Jack hated his life, it suffocated him: yes he was blessed, his genetic make-up presented a polished exterior to his fellow villagers. From being a child, his extra pleasant looks afforded him special treatment. He just had to be the way he was, which usually meant standing there and doing absolutely nothing, after all he was destined to be the best looking man in the village.
Whilst others coveted his good looks, Jack’s interior belied his exterior; he wasn’t vacuous, even if that’s what was expected. He had thoughts deeper than the exterior of his skin, he wanted more, he wanted a life filled with the extraordinary, he wanted to be good at something not just for accidently being something.
But no matter what Jack tried he was only ever mediocre, once he had aspired to the lofty position of village poet, and true enough all the women swooned at his composed lyrics. Villagers queued for a chance to see his poetry performances in the tiny wood clad village hall.
And for the briefest of time Jack actually believed he was good, that was until the morning he happened to hear Maria singing. Her voice transformed his thoughts, he no longer felt a longing for something, or had a need to be something, her voice filled his ever-present void with a truth he had never experienced.
But why had he not heard this voice before?
Maria had been born “squished”, kind of wrinkled in the wrong places. When placed in her mother’s arms, she could feel her recoil, fifteen seconds old and immediately aware there was something wrong. She was wrong!
The nine months she had spent growing, noticed but unseen was her wonderful time, she had potential, she was beautiful, she was a joy to everyone that encountered her waiting to be born.
But, immediately after her first breath, nothing would be the same again, of course she would have the unconscious pre-birth memories etched into her very basic being but out in the real world she immediately lost all potential, there was no hope for Maria.
Whispers penetrated her very soul beginning from the first set of eyes to behold her mediocre looks, the delivery nurse who bent forward after settling her into her mother’s arms, and murmured lowly “such an ugly baby”.
The words were unnecessary; Maria could feel her mother’s disapproving touch as she allowed her to roll forward and off her fingertips on to the bed.
Maria cried, but no eyes turned to her. The nurse, swaddled her and placed her into a crib, and there she would stay, receiving enough basic care to keep her alive, but not enough to give her life.
Her cries remained unnoticed, her cries reached into the depth of her soul, her cries eventually found a voice, deep inside of her, and that voice would become her song.
The girl with no name sat in the village centre, next to the totem, and waited.
The sleep of all sleeps enveloped the villagers that night and went right into the late morning. Just before the striking of the midday clock each and every one woke-up abruptly.
No worries or cares sat in their minds or resided on their shoulders. The storm had washed them in a river of fear and villagers had emerged reborn: each and every one of them cleansed.
Emerging from their half ramshackle houses, barns and sheds, blown asunder by the wind and rain from the previous night to a world of optimism. Or…
She sat looking at them, flitting her saucer like brown eyes from one to another until she had imprinted the lines on their faces, the curves of their mouths and deeper yet, the twists in their minds. The thoughts they kept hidden even from themselves.
Whilst each villager fixated on their present happiness, she was busy mining their souls for each and every depravity they had committed, but primarily the unifying original sin they had committed that day, when even the questioning believers, stood by and sacrificed their ideals and beliefs in pursuit of an archaic doctrine and gave away a precious new life justified by the notion she was different, not off their value system, a piece of garbage to be flicked away. But now she was back…
When the village was initially established, the dooers presented everyone with an option, remain in or out of the larger world and its rules.
It didn’t take long for there to be a general consensus that ‘out’ was the better option.
Walk away, that was when they first approached the dooers.
Sell your souls to the devil, but how could you when everyone’s souls had already been sold. The new villagers felt it was a way to reclaim what autonomy they had left, and the dooers, well they just didn’t care, they won either way.
Stay or leave, they ultimately controlled the details of everyone’s environment.
Whether the basic interactions were legislated or not, the fundamentals, the food they ate, the air they breathe and the water they drank all belonged to the whims of the wind.
The wind dooers grew thoughts and disseminated them just because they could. It was the dooers who first suggested the building of the transparent wall, so contact, if wanted could remain. The villagers agreed, as long as they remained unseen to everyone outside the wall.
The dooers agreed.