The Story of Silence

Silence Mourner is like every other person out there, but not every person is like Silence.

The story starts in the small, Italian village of Paura where Father Demetre finds a four-year-old boy in the snow beside three fresh graves. A mystery surrounds the boy, who is he? What was he doing out there alone in the cold? How did he get there? Whose graves are they? And finally, why can the boy no longer speak? Faced with these problems, Father Demetre takes the boy in and with the help of the village doctor, they care for him until a stranger from New York comes to claim him.

Now named Silence Mourner, follow this boy's road to manhood in the distant city of New York where he has slowly come to forget his secret, but his silence serving as a reminder that it should never be told. Now faced with a girl from his youth who is determined to bring it into the light, will it stay concealed, or will his desire to remember bring it all out?

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14. Chapter 14

Sunday, March 12th. About five o’clock in the morning:

Silence rose on Sunday morning just like he would every other morning before, but in all of them, he was rising after the sun. Today began with him rising before the sun and walking to the park.

No-one else was there when he arrived. The grass still wet from yesterday’s rain and the dew from the night. It was also slightly chilly due to it being before the sun had even risen. Silence enjoyed the quiet moment alone as he seated himself onto one of the green park benches with the peeling paint and watched life slowly start to come alive.

He wasn’t tired despite being out late the night before and his early rise. He wasn’t sure what time he had arrived home, he just remembered that he had arrived after Thomas had. Thomas was blacked out on the sofa when Silence had entered into the apartment, he didn’t stir as Silence wandered around the room, unsure of whether or not he should go to bed. He hadn’t been tired then either, he had been wide awake, and felt that going to bed wouldn’t do much for him, so he just lay down on his bed until about four when he decided to get up and go for another walk.

As per usual for the last few days, Susan was on his mind. He couldn’t get her out. She plagued his dreams at night and in his waking moments in the day. And he wasn’t sure if it had to do with the fact that he worried about her finding out about his past, or if it had to do with something deeper. But the thing was he wasn’t sure which reason for her being in his mind scared him the most. He didn’t like her, that’s what he told himself anyway, but he hated himself for yelling at her, even though technically he didn’t yell. But he had still lost his temper at her, and it wasn’t really his fault. He hadn’t given her permission to look into his past, she’d just accepted that he had, and now she wouldn’t stop because he wouldn’t -couldn’t- give her a reason why she should.

He also didn’t want her to find out in case she got hurt. He didn’t want her to get hurt, even though he told himself it would serve her right. But if he didn’t mind her getting hurt, why didn’t he want to tell her? Besides the obvious. He didn’t want to see her hurt, and normally he didn’t care about other people’s safety.

He groaned. Why did things have to be so difficult? Why did she have to mess up his head? He’d been fine until he’d met her. He hadn’t seen her for about seven years and now his head was feeling messed up because of her. Things he didn’t understand -he wasn’t sure if he did want to understand them- fluttered through his mind. They were all thoughts about her. They were so fuzzy, so confusing and hard to understand. He placed his head in his hands and groaned again, wishing he’d never met her.

He tried to take his mind off her and think about something else. Remembering something, he tracked back through his early thoughts. What was it he had thought about earlier, about not giving a reason? It reminded him that he should meet with his uncle and get sorted out why he had handed the roll of CEO over to George Oldwood.

At six thirty Silence headed home as he needed breakfast, though he didn’t need to be home to eat it. So he made a detour and got breakfast at an open MacDonald’s before hailing a taxi to take him to his uncle’s place.

About an hour later he reached his old home, and knocked loudly on the front door. Inside he heard their old dog, Rover, barking, and a pair of footsteps taking their time to reach the door.

Silence guessed by the amount of time it took the person to reach the door that it was his aunt. His aunt always took forever to answer the door, whereas his uncle would always call out something to let the knocker know that he was coming, to know that he would get there as soon as he could. His aunt never said anything and always made people wait, even if Silence’s uncle had told her he was expecting important people and for her to let them in as soon as possible.

Silence had the briefest thought as to whether or not he should run away before she reached the door, and hide somewhere so that he didn’t have to see her.

His aunt still hated him, and her hatred had grown stronger as he’d become more successful at living. On a good day that he would visit and she answers the door, he might only have the door slammed in his face and have to wait until his uncle arrives to let him in because she’d lock the door on him. And yet, every time, his uncle never said a bad word about her. That was one of the things about his uncle that Silence admired him for, and hated.

He was just stealing himself for when his aunt opened the door; he could see her shape through the small square of glass in the door, and he was surprised to find that he was also shaking with nervousness, when his uncle suddenly came around the corner of the house.

‘Silence!’ Cuthbert cried upon spotting him, he spread his arms wide to give Silence a hug.

Silence hesitated at hugging his uncle, it wasn’t because he felt he was too old for hugs from his uncle, it was that his uncle’s clothes were crusted with dirt and smelled of dirt, there was also a patch of dirt on the side of his neck where his uncle must have scratched himself. Silence wasn’t in gardening clothes, he was wearing a dark pair of jeans and a white shirt, he preferred to keep clean.

His uncle noticed and dropped his arms to his side; he kept the smile on his face though because he was still happy to see his nephew. Then he turned and saw the shape of his wife through the glass in the door.

‘If we’re quick, we can get you in through the backdoor before she’s arrived back from seein’ no-one at the front!’ he cried as his smile widened into a grin at the thought of his wife finding no-one at the door. He hurried off back through the side gate he’d arrived through, and Silence followed quickly after him. He moved out of sight of the front of the house just in time as his aunt opened the front door a second later.

His uncle led him quickly along the tiled path over the lawn and to the back door, which he opened and let Silence walk through before entering behind him.

Silence’s aunt walked back over to the kitchen where she had been when the doorbell had rung.

‘Just some prank,’ she muttered as she turned the corner. ‘Probably by those kids across the ro-‘ she started to say when she stopped suddenly as she spotted Silence and Cuthbert sitting on the stools next to the kitchen bench. They were both drinking from cans of soft drink that Cuthbert had brought out of the fridge.

‘Geraldine! Look who’s come by for a visit!’ Cuthbert’s deep voice boomed happily when he saw her, giving Silence a quick wink on the side.Geraldine ignored him and just glared angrily at Silence as he smiled good morning to her.

‘How did you get in here?’ she demanded to know.

Silence just shrugged and returned to his drink.

‘Silence is goin’ ta be stayin’ for lunch, aren’t you, Silence?’ his uncle turned and asked, changing the subject. Silence nodded his head in reply; he would if his uncle had no objection. He also noticed that his aunt’s glare had stayed on her face as she entered back into the kitchen and returned to washing.

‘Well, he’d better make himself useful while he’s here!’ she exclaimed in frustration at his interruption of such a good morning. ‘I won’t have him lazing round while we work!’

‘Oh don’t worry, Geraldine, he’ll help me out in the garden! And which, talking about the garden, we should get ta it, shouldn’t we?’ His uncle ran a critical eye down at Silence’s clothes. ‘Maybe a change first though,’ he murmured. Then, taking his can of soft drink with him headed upstairs, Silence quickly following suit as he didn’t want to be in the same room as his aunt for any longer than he had to.

An hour of watching her husband and nephew gardening was all it took for Geraldine to decide that they really were working and that it would be safe to let them out of her sight. The moment she left though, Cuthbert gave the signal and both he and Silence put down their gardening equipment and sat down on two of the lawn chairs that were set up. After taking a sip from his drink, Cuthbert turned to his nephew.

‘So?’ he began expectantly and Silence pulled out his pad and started to write.

There are some things I would like to ask you, uncle. Silence wrote and handed the note over to his uncle who read it.

‘Like what?’ he asked when he was done.

Why did you hand the roll of CEO over to George Oldwood? I mean, there are other people inside the corporation that actually know the business, but you bring in some guy I’ve no idea who, and now he’s my boss and telling me what to do. I know that is what bosses do, but I don’t think he even really knows what he’s doing.

‘And how do you know that George doesn’t know what he’s doing? Hmm? You do? Well of course you do, but of runnin’ a business? Just because you are used ta me being in charge of everythin’, and used ta my ways, doesn’t mean that everybody is going ta work the same way.’

All right, I know not everybody works the same way and has the same ideas, but he’s making everybody at work change. He’s telling them to move in a way that I don’t think will benefit the company.

‘Have you told him these things? Offered your suggestions?’

Silence shook his head. He won’t see me, and when I try to talk to him he refuses to read my notes. He had somebody else read them! And then he replied to him and got the man to speak to me! I can’t work with a man who expects me to speak when he knows that I can’t and gets somebody else to translate between us!

‘Have you told the man that reads what you write to tell him that?’

Ha! That guy wouldn’t dare say it out loud if I did write that to Oldwood. Everyone’s afraid to talk to him about anything he doesn’t want to know. You can mention something once, if you’re lucky and get away, but if Oldwood doesn’t like it and you say it again, then you’re in big trouble.

‘You want me to talk to him? I’ll talk to him if that’s what you’re asking, Silence,’ his uncle told him.

No way! That’s not how it should be done.

‘And how should it be done?’ his uncle asked as they both quickly got off their chairs and returned to gardening as they saw Geraldine walk back into the kitchen. Luckily she hadn’t seen them ‘lazing’ as she would call it.

Not by the way of an employee tattle-telling to the ex-head of the company. If it should be done it should be done by an employee standing up to their boss and telling him out right that they think he’s doing it wrong. Even if it means they lose their job, they won’t lose the respect they’ve gained by standing up for themselves and everybody else.

His uncle smiled. ‘Good.’

But that’s not why I’m here. I want to know why you hired him in the first place.

His uncle stared at the note in his hand for a while before replying. He wasn’t sure what he would tell his nephew, or what his nephew would say if he told him the truth.

‘He had all the necessary qualifications,’ he said quietly. ‘He was the right man for the job.’

Silence didn’t believe him. He didn’t often disbelieve his uncle, in fact, he never did. But this time it was the way his uncle looked at him, and trembled ever so slightly.

Is that it?He wrote. He had all the necessary qualifications so you hire him? What did you do? Just meet with him once and say, ‘Hey! You’re the right man for this job. If you want it you’re hired’?He knew that what he had written was rude, but he handed the note over to his uncle anyway.

‘It wasn’t like that at all; I’ve known George for some time now. And I did offer him the job, but he didn’t accept it straight away. In fact it took him a while before he agreed, and it was a good thing he did.’ Cuthbert looked down at the ground and forgot Silence for a couple of seconds as he pulled out weeds from under his roses. ‘I get to garden more now, now that George has taken over,’ he said, gazing up for a quick second before returning to his work. He hardly noticed Silence’s note asking him where he’d met George.

‘Oh I met George ages ago,’ he replied when he finally took the note, and that was all Silence got out of him for that question. Silence’s other question was why he’d really decided to retire, because the last Silence had heard his uncle had planned to keep working until it wasn’t possible for him to work any longer.

Silence knew his uncle loved his job, even if it was only selling stationery equipment for offices and homes. So this puzzled him even more when his uncle replied, ‘Well, I just decided that I was getting too old to work. It was taking up too much of my time. This way I’ve got time for my roses. Now, you’d better stop writing notes and help me get rid of these piles of weeds, or else your aunt will get suspicious.’

Silence reluctantly helped, he wanted to ask more questions but knew he should, and then he headed inside to wash for lunch.

His aunt had cooked a roast with potatoes and gravy for lunch. It wasn’t Silence’s favourite, but that’s what his aunt and uncle had for lunch every Sunday. In fact, Silence hadn’t had a roast since he’d moved into the city permanently. Well, as permanently as he could in a rented apartment. It wouldn’t last forever.

Silence sat next to his uncle and watched him carve the beef. His uncle was different he noticed. There was something wrong, and Silence wasn’t able to ask him about it. His aunt too was different. He noticed it as he sat there, watching them both.

He seldom talked to his aunt, only when he had to and there was no way to avoid it. He also tried to stay out of his aunt’s way, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t know his aunt. There was something she wanted to say to him, and she never stopped herself just from a glance from his uncle to not say what was on her mind. They were keeping something from him, and Silence felt hurt and betrayed that they would.

Lunch passed quietly, his uncle made some effort to talk, to lighten the sudden dark mood that had descended, but Silence found it hard to write notes while eating so they didn’t say much.

Afterwards Silence helped his aunt with the washing up. She didn’t say anything about it; his uncle had talked to her quietly in the hall, and normally that wouldn’t even stop her from at least saying something like he’d ‘done something wrong’ and ‘had she taught him nothing’? Which Silence knew that she knew the answer to.

When the dishes were washed and placed away, Silence and his uncle sat down in the lounge to put their feet up. Silence no longer felt comfortable being there, and he wondered if it had anything to do with his questioning of George.

Uncle, I’m sorry for my mistrust in Oldwood. I don’t know him at all, and I shouldn’t base my opinions on someone I don’t really know. I also shouldn’t have complained to you about him. I suppose he’s just doing what he thinks is right for the job, and that’s a good thing.

I’m going mad!  Thought Silence. I’m defending him and saying that deep down he’s probably an all right man just to get back onto my uncle’s good side!

His uncle read the note. ‘Oh that’s all right, Silence. I didn’t trust my boss when I first met him either!’ His uncle started laughing and Silence decided to follow suit, it was probably best. It also helped lighten the mood; his uncle seemed slightly jollier now, though Silence still felt that something was wrong.

As Silence was leaving after afternoon tea, he noticed that the atmosphere had changed drastically. His uncle no longer seemed nervous and tense, and his aunt was snapping away at him again, complaining about all the dirt he’d brought into the house. Maybe it was to do with him apologising.

‘Take care, Silence, and remember this,’ his uncle leaned in close through the open window of the taxi and whispered, ‘George is just trying to help, but it’s in his own way, which is different to yours and mine. Remember thatHis way, is not our way.’

Silence nodded and sat back in his seat. He waved goodbye to his uncle, and after a hesitant moment, waved to his aunt as well. He tapped on the glass separating him from the driver and the taxi rolled away, leaving his aunt and uncle standing on the pavement outside their home.

Silence had about forty minutes to reflect on his uncle’s strange word, ‘His way, is not our way’. Well, what did that mean? His mind was starting to fill so rapidly from the last week and the strangeness of today with questions that he didn’t know the answers to. He hated not knowing the answers. But then, he thought. This is must be how others feel about me.

His trip home was uneventful, and when he did get home he found he had six missed calls from Susan. He was going up in the world, before he’d only had three missed calls. He wondered as he turned them on to play if the next time he was out and she rang him, if she’d try it nine times. Now that, Silence reckoned, would be interesting, and somewhat funny.

He headed in to the lounge room, and just as he reached it the point of the last message hit him. She’d found another article to do! He rushed back to the kitchen and replayed the last message. The first five were just her ringing up and asking for him to call her, the last was where she couldn’t wait for him to call her for her to tell him about her news.

Silence was extremely excited about the news she had for him. This was something to brighten his day. And then the very last part of her message reached through his shield of joy and dragged his happiness into the mud, and trampled on it until he didn’t think anything would make it whole again. She was still going to research his past because it was interesting and she was intrigued, she felt that she needed to know.

Silence sank down heavily onto one of the kitchen table chairs and wished that she had called his mobile so that he could have texted her back right away. But then he remembered that he’d stormed away from her and left her standing before their lunch appointment, she would probably have felt that it wouldn’t be right her texting him.

Pulling out his phone he sent her a quick text congratulating her on finding another story so that she could get her job, and then he asked her if she wanted to meet somewhere tomorrow.

He was disappointed when he didn’t receive a text back for the whole of the rest of the day. Oh well, he hoped she’d come by the office tomorrow so that she could talk to him and he could write her notes.

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