Friday, 13 July 2012

Sound of Silence

The silence was wafting through from the living room.  And it wasn’t the good kind.  It was the kind that set your teeth on edge, that caused your heart to pump just that little bit quicker, that gave you goosebumps all over, that caused a feeling of dread to creep over you, like that time you woke up to find yourself all alone in the insect house at the zoo, when all the insects had escaped.  It was the sort of silence that had been known to make grown men cry, and grown women run screaming for the hills, only stopping to grab the phone so that they can live tweet the occasion.  Harry Potter would have quailed at this silence, Frodo and Sam would have had one listen and simply walked into Mordor muttering something about a ring they’d dropped and some guy called Sourman, the entire Justice League would have looked away, whistled a jaunty tune and slunk off pretending they hadn’t heard.

The man decided he needed to stir himself.  Silences like this one needed investigating sooner rather than later, otherwise it might stop altogether and then it was possible that you wouldn’t determine the cause until the damage was irreparable and all that was left was a smouldering hole.  He really preferred the noises, they were easily identifiable and one could judge whether or not they required immediate attention or could be left.  You could judge with a noise what damage had been done, but silence was inscrutable, it left you feeling uneasy, like when you’re at a concert and no one is playing.  The silence was unnatural and unnerving.  It definitely needed a response.

He snuck quietly, the sort of sneaking that even a particularly sneaky cat would have been proud of,  eating up the distance between himself and the source of the silence like a vegetarian having been presented with a plate full of steak tartare in a socially delicate situation who knew that any faltering could cause disaster.  No matter how quiet he was though, the silence was quieter, and it seemed to be growing, expanding to fill the space.  His imagination ran wild, what could be causing it?  Where was it coming from, he hoped against hope that whatever it was couldn’t possibly be as bad as his imagination was making it, but he knew better, it could be worse, so so much worse.

To say the tension could be cut with a knife would be wrong, you can’t cut tension, just like you can’t cut joy or sadness. It was pulled so tight that you could twang it though, but even the satisfying twanging sound was swallowed up by the silence so insatiable was its appetite, like a black hole that had missed both breakfast and lunch and was developing a hankering for dinner.  It was the sort of silence that could swallow whole buses, and still have room for all the people waiting at the stop as well.  The man started to feel the first tremors of terror, surely it couldn’t be as bad as the last time, when they had had to move house, town, county and country to escape the ire of their neighbours.  It turns out putting holes in someone’s bathroom wall was frowned upon in polite society.

The door was in sight now, his hand trembled as he reached out to push it open to reveal the horror. He hoped fervently that the mess wouldn’t be too bad, and that he would be quick enough to think of a plausible story before any one else found him.  After so much quiet the creaky door was deafening as it swung open, and then there it was, the source of the horror, the reason why he was dripping in sweat, why his hair was rapidly turning grey, why people looked the other way when he walked down the street. 

She was balancing on the arm of the chair, like Charles Blondin halfway across the Niagara Falls with weights pulling down on only one side, whilst reaching up to pull the glass of milk off the fourth shelf of the bookcase.  The unobtainable shelf, the shelf that had previously rejected all of her attempts to reach it, the shelf that she had been working her way towards for the last 15 minutes.  He reached out, and grabbed her, pulling her away from her ultimate desire; she responded by shattering the silence with her shrieks of indignation. 

Normality was resumed, noise was welcomed as a long lost friend would be, but always, in the back of his mind would linger the memory of the silence, haunting his dreams and making him turn up the radio just that little bit louder, because he knew that one day it would return, and he would again have to find his daughter and discover what she had got into this time.

1 comment:

  1. Haha. I experienced the silence today, but fortunately my daughter was just engrossed looking at some notecards she'd retrieved from somewhere!