TITLE: WHAT SILENCE HEARD
GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction
They took everything: furniture, animals, tools, food, each other. Hollowed out buildings gaped at me from all sides. I plodded along, flat-footed and hunched over, with only echoes of emptiness ringing around me. I thought, briefly, that I was dreaming. Or it was a joke my father was playing on me, with the help of everyone we knew and everything that existed. When I didn’t wake up and the silence was stifling, I screamed.
I’m not sure how long that lasted.
The only thing I found in my village was a beaten down rag doll. She had no hair, no eyes, and no clothes — the yarn, buttons, and cloth were useful. Lying in an outdoor fire pit where even ashes were glaringly absent, reaching her stuffed arms up for an embrace that only I could give her, I decided sixteen wasn't too old for dolls after all.
We sat together until night fell.
It must be a mistake, she told me. They wouldn’t leave us behind on purpose. And I tried so hard to ignore the tremor in her words.
With a shard of leftover ceremony I named her Nell, holding her up towards the dark sky and introducing her to the winking stars.
“Where should we go?” I asked after, cradling her in my arms like a newborn.
Her featureless face stared up me.
Away from the silence, she said. If that’s even possible anymore…