When she was very young, they tied up her tongue and spun her around in circles. They waged a silent war against her consciousness, day and night without rest. They told her all the wrong names for things. They told her the wrong name for herself. They tried to make her guess whether it was better to be loved too much or not enough.
When she went to school, they cut off all the invisible parts of her that didn’t fit into the boxes they made. They confiscated something from her, and put it in a metal box in a cabinet in a locked room until she forgot she ever owned it, or even what it might be, or that it ever had a name. Out in the schoolyard, they beat the living tar out of her because she was too this and too that, and way too much of the other thing.
When she went out to work, they always mistook her for someone else, which was okay, because things were much easier that way. Except, she kept forgetting where she lived. Every night after work, she would walk into some complete stranger’s house and fall into dreamless sleep.
Eventually, she just stayed in the last house she wandered into and fell asleep for a long, long time. She fell asleep for an age. So long that cobwebs grew between her sleeping toes and around her closed eyelids. Dark vines crept up the walls and twisted around her heart. Poisonous thorns pushed deep into her brain. She would make the weirdest noises at the most inconvenient times, until finally the stranger whose bed she fell asleep in became worried about what the neighbours might say. He boarded up the attic pretended nothing was wrong.
She would have stayed asleep in that small room, except one night she had a dream. She dreamed about some unnamed jewel hidden away in a metal box in a cabinet in a locked room in a hallway that nobody ever travels down. The dream was so real; it woke her from her too long sleep. She wove a dress out of the vine leaves that had wound all about her for so long. She made a necklace of thorns and filled a notebook with strange words in a half-remembered language. She climbed out the window, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, howling out eerie, beautiful sounds at the top of her lungs, and scaring the shit out of the neighbours for miles around.
In the middle of the night, she set off in search of something that used to have a name.