Sounds of Silence


There’s the silence at a beginning: it’s a new year and you want to make it a good one.

There’s the silence between a question and its answer when someone asks you don’t you think twenty-three is a tad bit too young to get married and you ask them what they’re talking about and they don’t respond but then they ask you if your sister’s twenty-three and your sister is twenty-three so you try to silence the rumor but the silence is already there and you can’t cover a silence with words and expect it to become silent again.

There’s the silence during a bus ride home with people all around but no one to talk to which means you are left with your own thoughts which keep coming back to the fact that you do think twenty-three is a tad bit too young to get married.

There’s the silence after a family announcement as your mother puts her fork down on her plate because your sister’s engaged and you don’t even know how to congratulate her because you don’t want to watch her drop-out happiness as you struggle to get to college and to get through college, but you also don’t want her to be unhappy.

There’s silence after you close your door, shutting out the day, and silence under your shelter of blankets.

There’s the silence of insomnia.

There’s the silence of a phone ringing on the end of the line when you call from school to say that you’ll be late for dinner but the ringing means that you won’t be late because they’re off shopping for the dress and probably won’t get back until after dinner because that’s what’s happened every other night this week.

There’s the silence at the end of your message, right before you said bye and hung up, which you are the first to hear, even though you ate dinner at Josh’s house so you would have company.

There’s the silence after the click, recorded when you hung up on an empty house all those hours ago.

There’s the silence of an unintentional secret because when you first started dating Josh you didn’t think it would last any longer than your first relationship and by the time you realized it was serious your sister was engaged and you didn’t want to seem as though you were looking for attention and besides, it would be over before you went to college which was seeming frighteningly close.

There’s the silence of pencils filling in bubbles and hands crinkling pages as they fly through the SAT.

There’s the silence of scared students who converse nervously about how badly they think they did because they think that the more they worry, the better the news that thin envelope with their score report will contain, which will lead to, they hope, lots of thick envelopes from the Ivy League.

There’s the silence of late night study sessions because your sister scheduled the wedding during your vacation so it wouldn’t interfere with school but that means that all the preparing is happening during your exams and you can’t concentrate on textbooks when you’re being asked for your flower preference so you wait until your family is asleep because, even though they don’t, you think that your grades are more important than your sister’s wedding because senior slump hasn’t hit yet.

There’s the silence of your sister’s drunken friends at the bachelorette party and you sit there lighting sparklers because you’re too young to drink even though you can drive and because of that you have to drive your tipsy sister home because, ignoring all the honor, you’re her maid, right?

There’s the silence of anxiety as you take your last exam.

There’s silence while you help your sister on with her dress while you want to cry because you love your sister and you’re thinking about the fact that someone else will be helping her out of it

There’s the silence of a mostly contained laugh when you look at your own dress and know it doesn’t matter if you love her or not, she still has the sisterly power to annoy.

There’s the silence of your buzzing hand as it falls asleep because the circulation in your arm has been cut off by a ringless hand which will soon be given away.

There’s the silence of people shifting in their seats during the kiss because no one wants to disturb their moment and yet they want to cheer so they can end the ceremony because they are hungry.

There’s the silence of excuses made to escape your relatives to dance with Josh because he’s the younger brother of one of your sister’s friends and you made sure he was invited due to some law of etiquette that you made up because you really just wanted to make sure you had someone there.

There’s a silence between the joke and the laugh when he tells you you’re looking nice and you laugh and complain about your outfit and he pauses before saying that he had complimented your looks, not the dress’s.

There’s silence during a dance when you love your partner and you don’t need to say anything because you both know that silence is okay.

There’s the silence of a dance when you don’t love your partner, even though you should because he’s basically your brother now, but you can’t because he changed your life without giving you any say and neither of you is comfortable not being able to talk so you’re dancing in the silence of forced conversations.

There’s the silence of teasing when your sister jokingly asks you if Josh’s your boyfriend and you can’t truthfully say he’s not.

There’s the silence of admission because you really do love her and think she’d understand.

There’s the silence of a hug with reassuring whispers when you know that she did understand.

There’s the silence of another hug, but this one is a goodbye hug with extra love because she understood.

There’s silence when two people are eating together because leftover wedding cake is much more enjoyable when you’re eating it near a river and with Josh.

There’s the silence of snow-boots on sidewalk as you trudge your way back to the bus stop, hand in hand.

There’s another silence after another family announcement when your mother puts her fork down upon another plate because you’ve finally told your parents that you’ve been dating for months.

There’s the silence of accusatory parents who won’t say how mad they are because they can’t justify their anger.

There’s the silence just before a lie when your sister tells you everything’s going well, including her marriage.

There’s the silence of sobbing against Josh’s shoulder because he’s helped you out with so much and you had hoped that it would be over but it all keeps coming.

There’s the silence of getting letters with answers and tearing open the envelopes.

There’s the silence of extra people talking in your house because it’s finally summer and your sister finally came to visit.

There’s the silence after a fight when your sister and her husband try to pretend that everything’s okay even though you know that nothing has been okay for months, and possibly nothing’s been okay since the wedding.

There’s the silence of farewell, because your sister is leaving to deal with her marriage and she comes into your room to say goodbye and to apologize for the shortened visit.

There’s the silence of a foggy window as the love you have been unable to communicate to your sister condenses on the pane.

There’s the silence of the river that’s now unfrozen as both of you try not to think about the day you spent eating wedding cake and silently hoping that the marriage was doomed but not in this way.

There’s the silence of re-acceptance when your sister comes back home unmarried while she moves her things from her ex-husband’s home and into her new apartment, close to your college.

There’s the silence of hope that you can reestablish your friendship with her, and that the next addition to her life is friendship material too.

There’s a silence in an empty room as you pack up your life leaving only the past year tucked into a corner of your childhood closet.

There’s the silence of boxes being unloaded in a different room in a different town in a different state.

There’s a silence in an empty room, but it’s a new empty room and it doesn’t have any of your memories hiding in the closet and you hope that when it’s time to move on again you’ll have only happy memories left over to bundle up and hide in the desk drawer.

There’s the silence at an ending: after the show but before the bows.

There’s silence at an ending, but that silence is almost indistinguishable from the silence at a beginning.

Every ending can be a beginning, if you let it.