Silence (Re)Marked


You don’t know how loud silence can be, until you tell your child his father has died. That’s when silence wraps itself around every inch of your body, crawls into your throat, steals the air from your lungs. You watch a scream build then settle behind your son’s eyes never making it past his lips. When he looks at you with his screaming eyes, wanting words, you realize they are all gone.

Until, suddenly, the world explodes with the unwelcome noise of others.

Phone calls, messages, voices that still exist, forming their found words that you must register so your child can have what he needs – what he doesn’t want, but will hate you for if he doesn’t get. So many voices. They can’t bear the silence that is chasing them down too - noise is what they know. They say the worst, nicest things in an attempt to comfort themselves. Compelled to fill space with sound and sooth themselves with the thumb-sucking of speech, slobbery and melodramatic, they rub their words all over you. You want to tell them this is a nasty little habit they should have outgrown but, instead, you let them have their comfort.

In the middle of it all: your child. Silent soldier, standing as airstrikes hit, pieces of earth dislocate, fly past his head. You watch people fall on him, endless flashes of staccato light erupting from all sides. He is covered in sprayed words and noise residue that cannot be washed off. All you want is to get to the silent place with him because your own inside noise is building. If it escapes, it will be the ugliest sound you have ever made.

Someone says, “My heart aches for you and your son.” Your inside noise plays back a scene: the now-dead body storming through the house hungry for a fix, hungrier still for a fight. You’re locking your son’s small body in a room to keep him safe from your blood that will puddle on the kitchen linoleum, paint a Pollock on the walls and refrigerator door with the bright red fluid of a “useless bitch.”

Someone else says, “Today must be the most difficult day for you,” and your inside noise starts laughing, and laughing. . . and laughing. Pressing your hand hard to your mouth, you pretend to cry so you can escape before the sound bubbles up. By the time you get outside you realize the tears are real – but they aren’t for the dead.

Suddenly, your child is standing beside you, his liquid scream streaming down his cheeks.
He puts his hand in yours - silently.

About the Author

Nichole is an ancient, creative soul housed in a body that is always longing to be somewhere it's not. In an attempt to satisfy this desire, she takes long runs, gets lost in the woods, and stares too long at photographs of Scotland. She is a mother, social activist, animal advocate, and lover of all things poetic. Recently, her poetry and creative nonfiction have been included in the 2017 & 2018 anthologies Voices from the Attic (Carlow University Press), and Breath and Shadow (online journal).

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  1. Stunning. Breathtaking. Made my heart ache so much for this Mother and Son duo that I do not even know.

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