I was thinking the other night of stories. As I often do. Alone in the dark. Mind racing.
The night was dominated by Silence. It became a casual audience to the rustling of my inner thoughts.
And I remembered a story my mother once told me of helping an old lady with her groceries. But the thing with stories, is there is often more than one variation of the same happenstance. I happened to be there for this story. In my version, seen from the eyes of a child, I remember my mother hopping out of the car. This was after one our trips to get my sister her bee shots. I am sure we still had the remains of chocolate croissants on our breath.
I vaguely remember there being an elderly lady. And something happened that had my mother and grandmother crying with laughter all of the way home. I believe my mother was helping the older woman with her groceries. The lady did not want help. My mother insisted. When she went to give the woman back her groceries, she handed them to her unevenly weighted. The poor old lady fell over. I am sure she appreciated the help. As a child, I just remember it being scary. My mother jumping out of the car. The unfamiliar neighborhoods. The energy of the city. A living breathing terrifying thing to a country girl.
As I lay awake, I thought, I will just have to ask my grandmother her side of the story. I had heard it before. But I loved to hear her tell it, because it always invoked big gales of laughter.
And then I remembered that I could not ask my grandma. The time for questions has passed. The big weight of the words “never again” settled down into my chest at the same moment my heart realized what was happening and bellowed out the word, “OH.” But it felt like “OHHHHHHHHHHH.”
When your heart speaks, you must listen. It is usually the mute organ in all of your orchestra of feelings. Which is funny if you stop to think about it, because it is the only organ we ever really hear. The constant, “bumping” a distant reminder of its baritone of melody.
It rarely speaks. It aches. It twinges. It might fall or drop. It might even break. But speaking is rare. It is not the most articulate of body parts. Usually just making one syllable words. Its favorites being, “Why?” “No.” “Yes.” “Stay.” “Go.” “Please.” But tonight it simply said, “Oh!” It was surprised. And then it wasn’t. All the words I was feeling wrapped up into those two letters.
My body quivered with the weight of the words in the dark. The echo of my heart’s last cry still vibrating through my body. Through my soul. My heart began to “bump” once more. But it was with a sadness. A funeral drum.
“Oh.” My soul simply said. “Oh.”
My tears answered their chorus as they ran down my cheeks and hit my pillow. Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat. They performed a solo symphony of their own.
Silence bowed and stayed heavily by my side through the stillness of the night. Only moving to rustle the covers. Or hum with the fan in the evening air.
My broken choir lay in a wet weeping mess.
Each instrument felt broken. Ruined. The strings severed. The keys twisted. This particular song would never be played again. At least in the chord of memory that had shattered my being that night.
Yet Silence still quietly applauded. For its favorite tune is sadness. It is when Itself can actually be heard.
Only the broken hearted can hear it.
And learn to call its name.
* This was written in response to The Daily Posts Weekly Writing Prompt, “The Sound of Silence.”