Her voice is quiet. That is all most people know of her. Amaya Maria Harison is very quiet. She sat in the back of the room in high school and now she does the same in college. In movie theaters she sits in the front, the lost black speck against the bottom of the massive screen. She is quiet and distant and no one knows her.
She keeps her plain brown hair in two lifeless braids down her back. Her hazel eyes, a truly dazzling display, stay locked upon the ground so no one can admire them. Her voice is a mystery to most and the few who know it have barely heard more than a single, soft whisper. There is no way to make comment on her body hidden by thick winter wear when the weather is cold or draped in shapeless cloth when the weather is warm. The most remarkable thing about her may very well be her ability to stare unflinching into anyone`s eyes without the person noticing.
She is a living ghost. She breathes and sleeps and eats and her heart beats away in her chest, but unless someone runs into her no one knows she is there. She is a conscious person making conscious choices, choices that have left her invisible in the eyes of those around her. She likes things that way. She tucks herself into every nook and cranny to hide from the eyes of others all the while seeping in to learn everything about the lives of others. She is the helping hand no one sees.
Amaya walks down the street in this late hour. Her brown hair in its tight little braids and her soft hazel eyes are down as usual. Her arms wrap around her undefined torso almost alluding to a feminine figure beneath. Her feet clip along the ground almost as silent as she is. The street lamps cast their glow down on her shimmering across her silky braids. The sun is sinking low on the horizon staining her cheek with its orange and pink glow.
Other than Amaya the street is completely barren. No cars rest against the curb and any people dotting the old houses are all tucked inside with the lights off. The monsters of the night that roam these streets to commit crimes or act cool with pointless risk have yet to slither through the shadows and emerge onto the streets. This is a dormant time on most days but Amaya is running late and took the quicker path. The danger to her is limited. Even in a place like this where no one can hide from the inhabitants she is completely invisible to the common eye.
Amaya is alone but no one else on the street is. She knows every house and every inhabitant, their family, pets, idiosyncrasies, work place or where they go to school. She knows the intricate details of their lives because they either did not know she was there or trusted no one else would. She did not travel far from those desolate streets to find her own home tucked amongst the nicer, single story homes of Boreal street with bright green grass and blooming gardens of the most beautiful shades. Amaya`s little lonely house had but one thing in the yard, a lonely birch tree that has no place amongst the oaks and poplars of the street and park yet stands tall and proud.
Amaya dips into the silent house. The dark envelops her as the silent door cuts off the streetlamp light. Shadows dance and crawl across the wall. She is not oblivious to their dipping and swaying or how they scuttle upon the ground and walls like scrambling bugs each time she flows from one room to another. She sweeps past the stairwell twirling up to the upper floors. The steps are left be to acquire blanket after blanket of grey dust. The darkness is somehow deeper obscuring the top of the steps from view.
Amaya turns the corner to pull open the basement door which slides free fusslessly. She climbs down the stone stairs as cold air rushes up to greet her. The grey walls grow damp as she descends. Down and down, the stairs turn to rotting wood that creaks and groans beneath her feet. The stone walls turn to damp cement, a solid cast in the soft dirt. At the bottom her feet sink into the muck consisting ground. The darkness pools heavy around her hiding all from sight, including the quiet girl. Without a noise she disappears into the deepest, darkest corner of her home not to emerge until the sun has broken the horizon with its blinding light.
The quiet girl does not head to school when the morning hours cast their warming light upon the cool Earth. The sun`s rays drink away at the dampness along the ground with their golden glow. Amaya slips from her house to head to the local marsh. Glossy black rubber boots squeak upon her feet as she marches along the sidewalks. People move on in their own lives. Soft chatter and gestures of greeting pass over her head yet none mind to even glance upon her.
The day is a particularly unique one for Amaya. In her habit-forming nature she disrupts the pattern on this day to tie her hair into one thick braid that is draped over her shoulder. Loose strands bounce in the air always reaching for a sky they will never reach. The sun beats down upon her with all its intensity despite it still being hours from noon, but the chill of her house still lingers around her shapeless form.
Amaya does not walk. She drifts upon the sidewalk until the ground grows soft and the air twists with the pungent smell of rotting plant life. Her feet squish through the soft ground producing a squelching pop when released from the mud`s vacuum. Here cattails bob against the breeze though an overwhelming amount of phragmites dwell along the edge threatening to snuff out the native reeds. Waves ripple along the shallow water where small fish thrash about and frogs dive to avoid the devastating effects of a warming sun.
The rustling of plant life, the splash of leaping frogs, the trill of birds flittering between the thin trees lining the edges before the ground becomes too soft are the only sounds. No people dot the land as far as the eye can see. No effort is needed to search between the tightly packed plants competing desperately for resources, not with land so soft and reeds so loud. A few frogs chirp upon their logs or lost on the water`s edge.
Amaya takes a deep breath as she wades slowly into the shallow water. It rushes over and into her boots just as the pressure pushes the boots against her leg. The cold shocks up through her evoking a round of shivers before she ventures slower into the murky water. Each step sloshes with a level of noise she does not normally make, noise that could draw attention, but here she is alone.
Amaya wanders around the water with the ease of walking upon land as if the water is not sucking the boots to her leg or sloshing in the bottom of her shoes. It reaches up to her knee, darkening the blue fabric of her dress and tangling it upon her legs. She has been coming here on the same day at the same time every three months over the course of two years at least. She knows where the ground suddenly dips and where the sediment is too soft to walk upon.
Her hazel eyes greet a new world lurking beneath the brown water that sloshes up to her hips. The dress tangled around her legs has no effect upon her motion. A turtle basks in the sun only a few feet away. It stares at her and she lifts her head just enough to stare back. Their conversation without words ensues before the shelled reptile drags itself into water of greater depths. Like part of the mass of fluid she drifts on as her boots grow heavy and the water grows cold.
Amaya marches through the depths back to the marsh where the water is shallow and the mud is thick. The waters fall silent around her and the breeze stills. The sun stings as she picks her way deeper into untouched lands. The trees grow thicker, the roots become a tangling mat reaching out in desperation to lock ankles and trip feet. Each step becomes more dangerous than the last as the ground grows increasingly unpredictable. She sinks in bit by bit until what was only wet is now plastered in a thick layer of mud growing heavier and heavier upon the fabric of her dress and thicker against her legs until they itched. They feel swollen and cold beneath the smothering layer of brownish black muck.
The wild land here is nearly untouched, but Amaya is only one of a handful of people who dared to venture so far in this land they had long ago been deemed undevelopable. Here the marsh turns into swamp. Here where the trees devour her small frame. Here where mud is so thick and rich in organic material that it infects the blood and turns it black. Here where the only sound is the breeze sneaking through the trees and the wildlife that grows ever distant. Here where the light falls in thin shafts that lights the water up yet reveals nothing of the world beneath. Here where Amaya once was brought so many years ago upon the day of her birth.
Clouds do not claim the sky yet it is a sickly shade of grey, a shade of grey that occurs when death grips a body and rot is only moments away. The sun has sunk to rest upon the horizon yet the trees still catch the bright orange hue before it may meet Amaya. An aggressive chill creeps between the trees sucking up any heat it brushes across. She does not hide from this chill. The mud is so thick it could almost work as a coat had it not retained its dampness through the day.
Somehow Amaya`s hair has beaten the odds. It flows down her back in one thick, clean braid just as it had in the morning hours, completely undisturbed. This far in the swamp is silent. The wildlife that bursts between the tress closer to the marshlands have faded off species by species so even the most resilient and insignificant insects have fallen silent and all together disappeared. Even the breeze does not creep along the branches that brush the grey sky and now birds day sore over the land.
Amaya`s hazel eyes stay upon the nearly black pools swishing beneath her. The glossy surface shines up at her with a clear reflection. It highlights her long, sharp nose, and rounded cheeks, casting shadows against her small ears and lips as thin as a blade of grass. The pool makes her look paler in complexion and makes her eyes glisten with an unnatural light. Her hair is pulled not so tight so that some hair may hang nearly loose to frame her face to make it appear a bit softer, smaller, and rounder.
Something drops from a low hanging branch and ripples the image. The trance of her own appearance is lost and Amaya lifts her head enough to see the creeping shadows drawing closer. Through the branches where the leaves are thin she can make out the darkening sky to spot a sliver of silver against the dark. The moon cast such a soft glow that sweeps over the ground and twinkles against the nearly black water. It highlights the mud crawling over her skin. It is enough to back the shadows so that they must cling tight to the trees, dripping down from the low hanging branches but unable to move any further.
The branches bow beneath the weight of the darkness. They stretch out long fingers to graze the water or brush softly against the goosebump riddled skin of Amaya. A sharp gust of wind rips through the trees and tugs harshly at her braid pulling her back from the deeper depths of the swamp. The chill bites deep into her flesh using the dampness in her clothes to past her skin and seep into her bones rattling her entire frame. The moon`s glow remains heavy on her, burning her skin with its delicate light. This is not the hour.
Amaya pulls herself free from the mud which pops like a suction cup upon releasing her. She crawls upon a tall root on which she perches, the entirety of her now exposed to the air. Her desires are to return home for the comforts of clean clothes, a bath, food, clean water, but such movement would be counterproductive. Her stomach, like her voice, is quiet even in its pangs of hunger from a long, mealless day.
She curls upon the raised root, balancing so carefully upon the thin, slick surface. At the mercy of the chill and her own exhausting she leans back against the tree. The trunk is thick and the tree is tall yet it still stands in the soft soil. Something catches on the leaves and carries whispers down with it. The rustling, a brush of sound, is enough to lull Amaya into a light sleep where she lay so still and silent she might as well be dead in the hands of the cold. For now, while the moons glow claims the swamp, she rests.