Word count: 431
By Beverly Jones
There never is enough silence. In fact, there never is, ever, any silence in the house. The woman's 5-year-old, too grownie as they say in this Southern town, always looks out for the little ones, the twin toddlers. But now she watches cartoons never as violent or as funny as those from the woman's childhood. Her pre-teen, playing video games, is busily, noisily killing pretend soldiers and blowing up buildings in a pretend faraway country, waiting for his turn to kill real soldiers and blow up real buildings in a real faraway country. Her husband works from home, phones ringing, keys clattering on the keyboard of his outdated but still functioning computer. The woman goes away into the waiting silence, sounds washing over her like wavelets against the shore, making tiny noises signifying nothing. "Momma, momma, the babies are pulling all the cans out of the cupboard." She comes back into the noise. "I'll take care of it." She wanders into the kitchen. Scoops up the twins, settles them in chairs with Cheerios, squats to restock the shelves. Silence waits patiently. She listens to the clink as cans nest together. Boxes rustle as she snuggles them between the stacks of cans. The electricity flickers out. Curses come from the office off the kitchen. "Ma-um." Whines from the den. The kid takes a respite from killing. A twin whimpers. "Momma, lights went out." "I'll take care of it." With flashlight in hand, she goes down creaking stairs to the basement where a miniature almost-silence waits. The furnace is off, but noises filter from upstairs, the thump of feet on the floorboards, the whimper of toddlers, a gurgle of water in pipes. She goes away into the waiting silence, sounds washing over her like wavelets against the shore, making tiny noises signifying nothing She finds the box by feel, slick and cool against her fingers. With a click, breaker flips over and noise returns, hum of fridge, killing of soldiers, clacks on the keyboard, wail of toddlers whose Cheerios have run out. She comes back into the noise. Silence waits patiently. She refills the Cheerios bowls, listens to her five-year-old's patter, calls to the pre-teen to pleeeease turn down the volume, raps softly on the office door, "Dinner in 30." Water burbles through the hiss of the gas stove; pots' lids clang against cast iron sides; silverware rattles as the table is set. There is always, always noise in the house. Some day she knows, fears, anticipates, she will move into and through the oceanic depths of the silence and never surface.