Tag: Silence

SILENCE: Silence Speaks B.A. Sarvey    

Word: SILENCE

Word Count 500

Silence Speaks

B.A. Sarvey    

 

Listen carefully.

Sometimes what we do not say speaks more loudly than what we do say. If you hear only my words, you will hear half-truths. You must listen to my silence. Then you will hear all. Things you already know, and things you never dreamed to be so. The words I leave unsaid are like the shadows created by mid-morning sun—furtive and fleeting, quickly banished, but good at obfuscating what needs hiding.

We each guard tiny pieces of ourselves we do not share. The secrets we hold are steeped in silence. Secure. Breaking silence we risk betrayal. Become vulnerable.

I have come to realize some seek to expose their own secrets. Revel in the horrified shock with which people react to this exposure of cloistered information. Some do not wish the private to remain private.

Unlike my talkative counterparts, I have become adept at guarding my vulnerable underbelly. I am a spotted fawn, curled just so, motionless, without smell or sound, hidden right underfoot in the tall meadow growth. I am a fritillary, newly emerged, still clinging to the transparent sheath of my chrysalis. My noiseless existence attracts no predators. I am a rabbit in the grass, soundless as I nibble green shoots and tender clover buds—soundless unless unexpectedly cornered by dog or fox. Then I shriek into the quiet of plants growing and quail eggs nestling under camouflaged adult. Shriek to deflect attention away from my secret, my hidden thoughts. Having successfully averted prying minds, I delve again into the profound depths of silence.

If you listen, you might hear my lack of noise and recognize it for what it is: the counterpoint to speech. Vast, unmitigated truth.

Silence has long dictated my comings and goings—dominated my life. Some would say I have gone mute—or mad. Indeed, it is with great physical effort that I converse for extended periods. Headache buzzing in the hollow of my brain follows common discourse. Migraine, exhaustion and often heartburn (acidic reflux, yes, but also an actual clenching of that vital organ) are the price I pay for lengthy conversation. This overstimulation mimics a caffeine rush—frenzied synapses firing, my veins alive as though infiltrated by Mexican jumping beans. Incapacitating as the physical effects can be, the emotional toll is sometimes worse. Especially the gnawing anxiety that I have said too much—revealed my beliefs (I do not always follow the accepted dogma.) Given away secrets (I have done things in my life I am not proud of.)

Words spoken cannot be unsaid. Fortunately, I am a writer, not a talker. I know how not to leave a paper trail, and how to keep my own counsel. My protracted pause enables me to edit, censor, distill my discourse. Avoid a disastrous slip of the tongue. I have said too much already. You will know to search my silence.

If I see you ‘listening’ I shall merely hit ‘delete’, and leave you deciphering the silence of a screen gone blank.

 

SILENCE: The Last Supper By Sally Madison

Word: SILENCE

Words: 453

 

The Last Supper

By Sally Madison

 

Like so many other suppers these past four weeks, Alexandria came in from the kitchen with Alma, who was carrying the supper for the general and his two lieutenants.  The general would sit with his back to the kitchen, the other two officers facing each other on either side of the table and Alexandria would sit in the chair at the end of the table opposite of the general facing the kitchen.  The general would choose a dolma, baklava, or vegetable pastry, and Alexandria would eat it.  If soup was served, then a single pot was brought in, and four bowls would be ladled from the pot. Alexandria would be the first to eat, and then the officer’s would eat.  They had fallen into a routine, so easily that they took their roles for granted.

 

This day was no different, or was it?  Alexandria and Alma came in from the kitchen with pastries filled with peas, carrots and mushrooms, fresh bread and mushroom stew.  Mushroom stew had been served several times before, and the officers enjoyed it with the bread that Alma made.  The pot was delivered to the table and the platters were spread out for the officers to enjoy.  

 

Alma returned to the kitchen with a smirk, as she rounded the corner out of sight.  Alexandria took her bowl of soup and a pastry.  The general and the officers also began the ritual. Just as Alexandria raised her spoon to her lips, Alma, who was watching from the kitchen threw a pot against the wall, then another and then another.  CRASH !! CRASH!! CRASH!!  Screams were heard from the kitchen.  Alarmed at the sounds, Alexandria jumped.  The officers all turned their heads towards the kitchen, as Alexandria stuffed the pastry in her pocket and spilled a bit of her stew on the table.  “The stew is delicious,” she said, “and the pastry, too.  But please excuse me; I need to see the noise in the kitchen.”  

 

The officers were hungry and were not interested in any thing that may be going on in the kitchen and ignored Alexandria, as she left the room.  Alma grabbed Alexandria and they hugged each other. Timing was everything.  Alma peaked around the corner to see that the mushroom stew was being devoured.  The officers were happy and boisterous, contemplating the army’s moves the following day.

 

The officers became quieter and quieter. A few hours passed as the women paced back and forth in the kitchen, waiting for silence.  One more hour after the silence had begun, Alexandria returned to the dining table to see the officers’ prone bodies.  She checked their pulse and their eyes.  Alexandria called out, “Alma, Kolya, Natalia! It’s time!  Come quickly!”

SILENCE: HOMECOMING By Nan Ressue

Word: SILENCE

Word Count 438

HOMECOMING

By Nan Ressue

Every night was the same for my sister and me.  Mommy would sit on one of our beds and read a story she knew we liked and the last letter that Daddy had written to us from his prison cell.  He was a brave soldier fighting for our country who had gotten captured by some mean people .We prayed together that he would be safe and come home soon.  There was a big picture of him in his uniform in our room so we could remember his face and kiss him goodnight .It seems like he has been gone forever.

Only tonight seemed to be a little different, judging by our mother’s sparkling eyes and big smile.

“Girls”, she said “I think your prayers have been heard.  Tomorrow we are going to the airport and wait for a very special Army airplane to land.  Can you guess who is going to be on it?”

We could only shriek with joy and jump on our beds “Daddy…Daddy…Daddy,” we sang

It was hard to sleep that night and morning couldn’t come fast enough. We were up before the sun, trying to decide what to wear so he would be proud of us.  Mommy looked so beautiful and happy as we climbed into the car.

“Mom, how will we know which plane is his?”, I asked nervously.

“The General will speak to everybody who is waiting and tell us what to do,” she answered with a smile.  The ride seemed like it lasted forever but we finally arrived.  The waiting families were gathered together on the tarmac, chatting, smiling, weeping, and wringing their hands with sharp anticipation.

“The P.O.W. plane is approaching folks.  Your wait is nearly at an end”, said the commander.  A silence spread over the loved ones as they realized that their dearest hope was about to come true.  A dot in the blue sky gradually grew in size and shape, coming closer, yet closer and at last, touching down to taxi toward the waiting crowd.

The soldiers exited the plane one at a time after their name and rank was announced over the microphone.  We waited.

Soldier one…no not him. Soldier two….no not yet … soldier three and there he was…the man with the face we kissed every night.  He ran toward us with tears in his eyes, dropped to his knees and held out his arms.  We dashed full speed ahead into his embrace, plastering ourselves to his chest, and promising each other  that we would NEVER let him go again. Could there ever be anything sweeter than this?

SILENCE: Cat’s in the Cradle By Peg Scarano

Word:  Silence

Word Count: 500

 

Cat’s in the Cradle

By Peg Scarano

 

Three girls, ages 11, 7 and 2, equals total chaos most of the time; organized chaos occasionally; peace and solitude – rarely, if ever.  You do get used to it.  To strangers, the racket can be deafening, but when you live with it, it sort of becomes “house” noise.

 

One evening I was actually sitting in the living room trying to watch television or read or something to block out life while the three girls played some imaginary game running around the circle that was our house.  The older two stopped suddenly and asked me if I would like to play a game with them.  Since I didn’t often have time to do this, I readily agreed.  

 

They both disappeared and reappeared in a matter of seconds because they always ran sounding like a herd of horses – never walked on padded feet like the cat.  I can’t remember if it was Candyland, War or Old Maid and it didn’t really matter.   We didn’t get to do this often.  I did ask what the 2-year-old was doing and they assured me she was “reading” a book to the cat in her room.  I listened carefully and could hear murmurings from her sweet little mouth and I smiled.  Pets are great.

 

We set up and played a game, laughing and giggling as they watched Mom lose and they fought over which of them won.  The first game ended so there was a lull in our chatter.  I perked up my head to listen for the sweet murmurings coming from Emily’s room.  The silence was deafening.

 

“Quickly!  Go check on your sister.  I’ll set up the next game.”  Off they ran.  I heard a death defying, “MOM!  COME QUICK!”  “OH GOD!” ran through my mind as I took off on a run just like the girls.

 

There stood the two older ones with their hands over their mouths and their eyes as big as saucers.  And there sat Emily, on the floor, looking up at me with those great big brown eyes and grinning from ear to ear.  “Kitty had dry skin.  I fix her.”  She was so proud.  She fixed her all right.  The poor cat was covered in Vaseline – her fur literally matted down with it.  She actually made a suction sound when she stood up and attempted to proudly sway out of the room.   

 

Then I took a closer look…The changing table, the crib, the dresser, the bookcase and 2/3rds of her hardwood floors were shimmering in the glow of Vaseline.  Apparently, everything in her room looked dry to her.  

 

Did you know that Vaseline is waterproof?  It took weeks to get it all off.  The cat fared better – her hard-working tongue got it off in matter of hours and she didn’t throw up a hairball for months because she was so well-greased.  And, from that day forward, Emily always played games with us whether she wanted to or not.  Well – except for once – but that’s a story for another day.

 

SILENCE: Silence By Anne Nassar

Word: SILENCE

Word Count 566

Silence

By Anne Nassar

“Mom’s home,” Ella observed.

“It can’t be,” Lynn said, “it’s only five-thirty.”But when she drew the curtain aside and looked out the window, she saw the Audi pulling into the garage. “Game’s over, she said to the girls, Let’s clean up.”

Sophie said, “but who won?”

“You did,” Lynn said.

“Wait a minute,”  Ella said, “I got Yatzee!”

“You won, too.”

“There can only be one winner,” Ella said.  Lynn got the game put away and the tablecloth straightened out before Tessa walked in. Tessa’s face was flushed. She smelled like alcohol.

“How about saying hi to your mom?” Lynn suggested.

Ella and Sophie begrudgingly said, hi.

Tessa said to her daughters, “Why don’t you two go upstairs and get ready for bed?”

Ella retorted, “Because we’re not two years old. It’s five thirty.”

Tessa said, “Go watch tv, then. Out. Be gone.” Sophie obediently scrambled up the stairs, but Ella remained seated. She folded her arms.

“What did I just say?” Tessa said.

“Don’t yell at Lynn, it’s not her fault.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We threw out your cigarettes,” Ella said, defiantly.

Tessa said, “If you throw out my cigarettes, I’ll buy more. I’ll buy twice the amount. So don’t throw out my cigarettes.”

“Fine!” Ella said, and got up from her chair and stomped from the room with her fists clenched.

Lynn felt her heart racing. Here it comes, she thought.  But Tessa went into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee, doctored it with milk and sugar, and drank it in sips. It reminded Lynn of religion class, back in the day, when she’d have to wait in the pew until it was her turn to go into the confessional.  Tessa sat down at the dining room table, and Lynn sat down across from her. Tessa looked old and haggard. Her eyes were bloodshot. There were dark circles beneath them. She was still beautiful, but she wasn’t otherworldly beautiful like she used to be.

Lynn lived in the narrow passages between things. She had millions of things.   She spent all of her money at garage sales and estate sales and she could not leave a sale until she’d bought an item.  She didn’t buy anything stupid. She bought things that she might need someday.  And she didn’t keep garbage. She put out the garbage. She washed her dishes. She wasn’t dirty. No one ever saw her apartment. She didn’t invite her friends over; she invited them out.  She worried that something might break that she couldn’t fix, a window or the toilet. She worried that she might be crushed to death by an avalanche of crap.  But mostly she worried that she was insane.

She understood why she’d become a hoarder. When she was a child, her mother would disappear for days at a time and there would be no food, no toilet paper, no soap. She would go to her neighbors and beg on behalf of herself and her sisters.  But that, she reasoned with herself, had been many years ago. She had a good job, she made lots of money. She lived half a block from supermarket and five minutes from Wal-Mart.  Yet whenever she made up her mind to throw away or give away some stuff, she felt sick to her stomach, panicked.

This went on for years. Then one day, the house burned down.

SILENCE: All That Glitters By Mike Cecconi

 

Word: SILENCE

Word Count 499

All That Glitters

By Mike Cecconi

She awoke as she did every weekday, three-fourteen in the morning, one minute before her alarm, just enough time to prepare herself and then commute. “Payroll at four,” she thought, “one more shift to survive.”   

 

“BZZT BZZT,” it blared, “THIS ALARM BROUGHT TO YOU BY STARBUCKS, PUT BUZZ IN YOUR MORNING WITH STARBUCKS, BZZT BZZT,” then it cycled again, “THIS ALARM BROUGHT-” and she hit the off-button. The buzzing stopped. The ad did not.     

 

She stepped into her shower and a light projected any movie in history onto the far wall, ads scrolling on all of the edges. She washed then dried off, dressed plainly with little make-up, the dress code was casual and there wasn’t anyone there she cared to impress, anyway. The feed shifted from shower to mirror and so did the ads. “Eye-shadow, lip-color, enough to not look like I’ve died,” she thought, “and just make it ‘til four.”     

  

She put a kettle on for tea and an ad popped saying her gas power was brought to her by the NRA. “PACK SOME HEAT TODAY, ALL THANKS TO THE NRA.” She halfheartedly watched morning news, new Miami sea wall, only two school shootings yesterday. On the train, shows in every known language and constant reminders her fare was subsidized by Wal-Vape.   

 

“GET STEAM IN YOUR ENGINE WITH WAL-VAPE OR ELSE YOU AREN’T SEXY.”   

 

She worked customer service for Circle-Cell, taking complaints from data-clients in India. She spoke fluent-but-heavily-accented Hindi to them and called herself “Parvathi” even though her name was Ellen. Callers complained they were getting too much data, getting it too fast or how their scheduled outages weren’t happening.

 

She would credit accounts or call tech-support to slow feeds or kick it upstairs, over and over, the whole shift. There were lunch and bathroom breaks when she watched something or other on her celltab, but if you had asked her later, she could only remember the ads.   

After an uneventful day, she rode home through a lecture on how if she didn’t vape no one would ever love her, then returned to her apartment where the ads still ran, along with every piece of the information in the world.      

 

Four P.M. on the dot, her tablet chirped, she fumbled to make sure her pay went through then said “Celltab, charge one weekend to adblock.” All the shows stopped. All the ads stopped.  

 

Her parents told her once how when cellular tablets were first invented, people used to pay for information and a premium to get it faster. Somewhere in the ‘30s, the I.T.I.P. corps realized the real money was in giving it away and then having folks pay to make it stop. “Celltab, guitar instrumental,” she said, “ad-free.”    

 

Ellen laid back into her bed next to the blissfully silent alarm clock and remembered how her grandmother always used to say “Silence Is Golden”. She wondered to herself when they must have coined that phrase. Probably in the 2030s, she chuckled, then drifted back into sleep.  

 

SILENCE: The Next Step By Sharon Collins

Silence/Dancing

Word count 499

 

The Next Step

By Sharon Collins

 

As my torn skin knit itself into thick, puckered seams , angry and red, the fever and the Wiseman came together to condemned me. Dancing around me as I lay on the She-Wolf’s freshly scraped hide, he tossed grave-herbs into the fire, surrounding me with choking smoke, a barrier to protect The Clan from my dark powers. In rare moments of consciousness, I learn that I am judged too dangerous to be allowed sanctuary.  Once healed, I am told, I must leave.The Wiseman has spoken and The Clan has listened.  He has called me a cursed thing, a creature of darkness and evil.  I am no such thing; I am only a daughter lost.  But, I become voiceless, my pleas fall unheard, unheeded.  I am unwanted, alone.   The Hunters did not speak for me though I still wear their crusty mark on my forehead.  The Headsman did not speak for me in his grief over First-Wife’s Death.  Child of his I might be, but child of a third wife, especially one whose dark spirit caused the death of his favorite, I do not deserve the weight of his words. None of the women have any words left; their words have dried up like blood on the edges of their hissing curses..

 

The Forest’s silence is a balm to my wounded ears and broken heart.  Sighing, I watch the last shattered shell disappear beneath a blanket of brittle, brown needles.  Rising from my knees at the foot of the rock ledge, I whisper to the pine-scented emptiness,   “I am no creature of darkness…  Mother is no creature of darkness,” I add as afterthought, although of that  I am not truly certain.  I cannot forget her amber gaze as She, It, She licked  the Wolf’s lifeblood from her fangs. I cannot forget her scream as She leapt to my rescue. Yet, I cannot either, erase the Wiseman’ words. Thinking to honor and perhaps appease Her spirit,  I take two pieces of dried fish from my pouch and lay them atop the buried Necklace.

 

Stepping out of this now sacred spot,  I gather my water-skin tying it and the pouch to my belt with a precious sinew lacing.   I look at my spear and fire-bowl with its ash-covered embers, still glowing, and smile a teary smile.   Second-Wife has not been unkind.  I am grateful.  I reach for my brindled-fur cape and scream as it jerks from my fingers and growls.  Everyone of  Wiseman’s dark words rush  through my mind in the moments it take me to realize.  And then I begin to laugh.  It almost hurts to laugh; it has been so long…  Carefully I lift a corner of the cape and peer under. Two unblinking eyes peer back. The growling stops and a warm tongue licks my hand; I am no longer alone.  The She-Wolf’s seventh pup, pale  as a mid-winter moon, has also come to say farewell to her mother.  We are both Daughter’s Lost.  I will call her Sister.