Who is really lost in the silence?
It is quiet. Unlike the tranquility of watching the sea through the thick glass window, this quiet shivers the marrow. It abandons me. It is not even the quiet of birds and animals when a predator is near. That would be something. Something that would stir my blood which feels like ice water now. This silence is a nothing that I cannot extinguish or absolve. All the pyres are empty. All the coffers full.
Outside, the quiet maliciously follows me — through trees and vistas, over streets, in tedious tasks. Even the places I revisit, once full of laughter, are hollowed with this unbearable silence. They used to fill up and echo wherever we were. There, under that tree, in the perfect spot he found, the two of us talked so that we could hear nothing but our voices. Over telephones. Over letters. In bits of text, I could hear him. We shared secrets like picnics while on ordinary living room couches that sank thin over time and various homes. We played like children, whispering in corners and amidst people at parties. And in a whole room, there was only his voice. I was found the day he talked to me. I forgot to ask his name for the first several hours when we sat awkwardly, accidentally side by side, at a miserable party — not nearly drunk enough. We found shelter in that conversation. Where is he now?
He was my lighthouse. “If I could hear your voice, I could smell the warm lamp oil odor of falling asleep in your arms.” I never sleep now.
I never realized before this silence how sonorous life is, how much it connects us, collects memories, evokes them. I want to be haunted by those sounds. I want to hear the symphony of memories we make. Maybe if I had never heard at all, this quiet would be more bearable. If there were never awkward moments or voices or the sound of our feet walking in synch over empty sidewalks.
Suddenly, I realize I am outside. I do not hear transitions or approaches. People move in quick, heavy steps that I can see — shoes and jostling shoulders and purposefully moving haircuts and mouths — coming through the cottony rheum that shrouds my days. How long has it been? The stay of execution is execution itself because every day I die a little more and live only with the thick insulating silence that strangles me, feeling life through this bubble of abandonment.
It is not a real execution. At least I think not. I hold things and see my hands move around them, lift them to the air. I swear that in this single image of a peach I can feel all the peaches I ever tasted and their fur in my fingers. Regardless, this sentence is mine alone. I am the only one here. It is as mine as anything buried in the body or nestled in the grey folds of fatty brain where memories are. But I don’t feel those either the memories so much as they grow dim with repetition. They are sinking away.
Sometimes, if I push, my voice gets through. “Where are you?” and then I am eager for the silence to be crystalline so that I can hear him when he makes the tiniest sound. Fuck the sounds of feet, of people living and moving in their fucking unsuspended lives. “Please!” I don’t know who I am begging. The tears roll down my face, thick and hot like liquid petroleum jelly. Am I begging for him to resurrect? Am I begging for him to reach me? Am I pathetically begging it god who is either cruel or fictional from this vantage? We all believe in some god when we are desperate. But I don’t hear god either.
All there is is me and the silence… and what it whispers to me.
I look for him everywhere, hoping what I know is not true. Scared I will forget his face. But the silence — at least it captures that. Every place I look he is there, a ghost.
It was the last thing I saw. It is all I see, his face through the water as it swallows me and fills my ears with silence. His face above as I fall. I fall for what feels like forever. I see him scream but the only sound is wind and air until I hit and the cold and the silence comes. Where are you now?
I want to take it back. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. And I wait here. Here. In the silence that persists without god. Without anything. Falling through fading memories.
Who is it really who dies? I am a ghost only haunting myself. I see him screaming. Even in the water, I feel the tears burn in my eyes. Was it the tears I slipped on?
Written our 31 Days of Scary, #Halloween online writing salon.