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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16. Chapter 16

Monday, 13th:

The day started for Silence as it would each weekday when he had to work. He woke when his clock rang, showered, dressed, had breakfast, caught a cab, and arriving on time he went with the flow of company employees heading up the elevators to their offices.

Silence still hadn’t decided on what job to take full time, and when he arrived in his office there was a message waiting for him from Oldwood telling him that he had better get started because he had until Thursday when the papers would be signed and then Oldwood would officially be CEO.

Hearing a noise, Silence looked up and to his surprise found the man himself standing in his doorway, watching him with keen eyes that were trained on his every move. A strange feeling of nervousness started to tingle its way up Silence’s back. He coughed abruptly and turned away, picking up his pen as he did so and asked if Oldwood wanted anything. He then handed the note to Oldwood’s new secretary, Miss Phelps, who read it and repeated it out loud to Oldwood.

Oldwood didn’t say anything for a while, and then when he did reply he didn’t say much. He simply said, ‘Yes.’

Silence nodded his head, and wrote: Pardon?

‘To watch you while you work, Mr Mourner. To watch you while you work.’

Silence nodded his head again, but was still in confusion. Oh-key, you can watch, he said in his mind and sat back down in his seat.

He was aware of Oldwood’s gaze on him all the while he worked, and it felt disconcerting. He could think of no reason why Oldwood would even want to watch him while he worked; it wasn’t as if Silence did anything interesting. He just went through all the papers of sales and made notes about them, rang for new orders of the things they’d run out of, and paid the bills for the things that needed to be paid for.

By eleven o’clock Oldwood was still watching him. He’d seated himself down in one of the chairs across from Silence’s desk and had crossed his legs, only moving to unfold them and cross them over the other way, his gaze never faulted.

Every time Silence got up to go to another office, Oldwood would get up and follow him. In fact, when Silence headed off to the toilets and Oldwood got up to follow him, Silence was afraid that Oldwood would enter into the toilets with him, but no, he just waited outside until Silence was done and then followed him back to the office. And Silence didn’t dare ask him why he was watching him and not doing something else more important. He didn’t think Oldwood would enjoy being questioned about his actions. He also started to wonder if his uncle had mentioned anything to Oldwood, and this was how Oldwood was repaying him. But repaying him for what?

And poor Miss Phelps had to stand to attention behind Oldwood in case he wanted anything. He would tell her to do things and she would run off and do them, and by the time she arrived back he would send her off to do something else. Silence pitied her, and he didn’t even know her first name. He only knew her last name, but then, everyone did.

She was a good looking girl, Silence noted, and all the men at work liked her. Her hair was a dark red and it was always ever so slightly wavy. She was also probably in her twenties; maybe about the same age as Silence, either younger or older he didn’t know, he had never really talked to her. She also wasn’t the stupid sort of blond secretary like some, hired only for their looks; she was smart and could stand on her own. And while she didn’t mind the men’s whistles and comments, she never encouraged them. She had a boyfriend, and to her, it was right to stay with him and not go off with other men while she was his. And as to what she was doing working for Oldwood, Silence was able to pick up that she had been hired after Oldwood had fired his previous secretary, one Quinton Vourve.

Silence hadn’t known Quinton very well; he’d seen him around before as his uncle’s secretary and he knew that Quinton was a sufficient enough secretary. So when he had heard that Quinton had been fired, Silence was surprised, shocked even, at the news.

At last lunchtime arrived, the clock ticking over to twelve signaling the end of the first part of the day. And while Silence had thought that Oldwood would go off on his own to eat, he was disappointed when his boss followed him down the stairs to the cafeteria in the building. As they moved along the lunch line, Silence couldn’t help but notice that everybody was giving them a wide berth. Oldwood noticed as well, Silence could tell as the corners of Oldwood’s mouth tilted upwards every time someone noticed they were close to their boss and would then scuttle off. The noise of chatter also died down. Silence had never had lunch at work before where it had been so quiet, he wasn’t used to the silence.

During lunch Oldwood sat at a table across from Silence’s, and while he ate, his eyes were still on Silence. This was getting beyond the normal new boss wanting to watch his new employees working. There was something else underneath that Silence had a feeling was going on, but he didn’t know what. He was happy though that Oldwood wasn’t sitting at the same table as him, it made him feel less like he was being watched not able to see clearly Oldwood’s eyes on him.

Plus, sitting at his own table allowed Silence to sit next to friends, but he noticed that Miss Phelps sat down at his table after Oldwood had had a quiet word with her. Silence decided that it would probably be in their best interest if they didn’t mention anything about Oldwood with her around. He also made sure that his fellow employees got the gist and didn’t say anything either.

Miss Phelps, whom Silence found out later during lunch that her first name was Annabelle, joined in the fun chatter, making jokes of her own and fitting in well with the crew Silence was with. They worked the mail run, a bunch of willing men eager to get their job done with the most efficiency and timing. And then the dreaded bell rang and the cafeteria suddenly became a wasteland with everyone getting up and leaving.

Silence hoped as he made his way back to his office that Susan would show up, but then he also dreaded her showing up because he felt he had to apologise. Apologising was something that always scared him, but he felt he needed to, and now that he thought about it he should have apologised last night before he asked her to meet with him today. That probably would have been the way to go, but then speaking to her in person to apologise was also, he thought, the best way to. You could see what a person’s reaction would be; words on a page just didn’t cut it.

When he reached his office all was quiet. It normally was. In the afternoon nobody made much noise, not on his floor anyway, they were just too busy concentrating on what they had to do.

His computer bell rang and Brian’s voice came over though the speaker. Oldwood looked over interestedly at the speaker for a moment, before turning back to watching Silence. Silence ignored him as Brain had just said, ‘That young lady you’ve been hanging around with during lunch break, what’s-her-name, Sally, or something, she’s downstairs asking to see you.’

Silence’s heart skipped a beat, so she had decided to come! He quickly wrote a reply telling Brian that he would be down soon, and was about to send it when Oldwood’s finger pressed down on the return call button and spoke into it.

‘I am afraid that Mr Mourner is unavailable right now. I would suggest that you tell Miss Seganto to call back later at a time when Mr Mourner is not working. As after all, not all of us are unemployed.’ George Oldwood spoke the word ‘unemployed’ with distaste. He nodded curtly to Silence as he lifted his finger from the button. ‘Please continue with what you’re doing,’ with that he gave a silent quick word to Miss Phelps and left the room. She remained, breathing a sigh of relief as Oldwood disappeared, and sat down gratefully in one of the chairs that Silence offered to her.

Silence himself turned back to his work in frustration. He was angry at Oldwood for saying that he was busy. How dare he! Silence thought. He needed to talk to her, and his boss had just sent her away! He contemplated sending a note to Brian to ask if he could call her back, but he caught Miss Phelps’s eye and she shook her head.

‘If she came back, he would just send her away again,’ she told him as she guessed his thoughts.

Silence nodded in agreement, it was true, he probably would send her away again. But he couldn’t if he asked her to meet him someplace else after work! He pulled out his phone and sent her a text apologising for his boss sending her away like that and that he had had no choice but to let him, and would she care to meet him at that place they were going to have lunch at on Saturday so that he could talk to her?

He placed his phone on his desk and went back to work while he waited for her reply. If she was out and about she should hopefully have her phone and therefore see his text, he hoped she would.

Oldwood didn’t return to Silence’s office, and Miss Phelps didn’t leave until Silence got off work. Silence had the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that Oldwood was having him watched for a reason, but like a lot of things lately Silence didn’t know why.

When he arrived home from work later that afternoon he found Thomas waiting in the flat for him, two young ladies by his side. Thomas introduced them as Janie and Sara. It turned out that Thomas had arranged a double date for his birthday, and wanted Silence to come with him to help him celebrate.

Silence wished that Thomas had talked to him about this before he’d organised it. But then, if he’d done that, he knew that Thomas would know that he would have said no. So for Thomas this was smart thinking, arrange it and then tell Silence that he was going. Silence knew he couldn’t possibly refuse Thomas, it would embarrass him in front of his date, so he agreed.

They headed out to a place that Thomas knew of; and as it wasn’t far away they decided to walk. It was a glorious evening with the stars out in a sky clear of clouds and hardly any breeze at all, and as the reservation was for seven there was no need to rush.

The restaurant itself wasn’t a fancy place, Thomas didn’t have the money for anything really fancy, but it was still a nice place.

By the end of the night Thomas was good friends with the girls, though it was still weird for Silence to be celebrating Thomas’s birthday with a couple of girls he didn’t know. It would have been better, he thought, if they could have been girls that he’d known.

Janie was the intended date for him, but later on in the evening it swapped and he ended up with Sara and Thomas with Janie. Janie was good company, but Silence preferred to talk to Sara and Thomas to Janie, so they switched. Janie was loud and had a great sense of humour, and liked getting up and doing things, whereas Sara just liked to sit and talk. She also had a good sense of humour that showed itself as the night wore on, and when Janie pulled her up to dance -they were at a place which allowed dancing- she joined in and had fun. Yet she still wasn’t quite as excitable as Janie.

All four of them could dance, and they did frequently throughout the night. Silence enjoyed the dancing, and he had a feeling that Sara enjoyed dancing with him.

At about ten thirty they decided to leave and head home, Thomas inviting the girls back to the flat for a quick drink before fetching a taxi to take them home. They accepted and they all trampled inside.

It was there after a couple of drinks of the champagne that Thomas had bought earlier in the day and placed in the fridge for this moment,  that Thomas and Janie fell upon the couch. And then both laughing, retired to his room. This left Silence alone with Sara.

Silence started to feel awkward talking to Sara now that Thomas and Janie had slipped off to Thomas’s room. He also noticed that Sara was becoming slightly agitated as they continued to chat and drink the last bottle of champagne which was good and cold. The bubbles tickled Silence’s nose as he sipped, just like they would with soft drink, and as the rest of the night wore on and the champagne became less and less in the bottle, Silence’s head became lighter and lighter and Sara became less agitated and more loose.

With a clang the empty bottle of champagne fell over and rolled underneath the coffee table as Sara crept along the couch they were sitting in and sat down on Silence’s lap and laid an arm around his neck, in her other she held her half empty glass.

She crossed her legs; her black skirt ending just above her knees and took a sip of her drink, eyeing Silence over the rim of the glass. His head felt heavy and his mind clouded. He could still think, but his thinking was slow and he had been taken by surprise by her moving and didn’t know what to do. He was about to say something when she suddenly bent down and kissed him.

Silence’s eyes widened as she gripped his face and kissed him hard; he hadn’t expected her to do that. He hadn’t picked her to be the sort to jump like that either. Janie yes, she seemed the sort that would, but he hadn’t picked Sara. But then, he’d only known her for a few hours, she could be the shy type to start with and then she’d warm up and end up like Janie.

She pulled back, ending the kiss and they both breathed deeply. Placing her glass down onto the coffee table next to them, she moved back in for another kiss as she re-arranged her body so that she straddled him. Silence gripped her round the waist as they kissed, her hand around the back of his head pulling him close.

They pulled away again, taking the chance to gulp down more air into their lungs. Sara took the pause to pull her top off before moving in again and slowly working her hands under his shirt and pulling it up and over and off.

Silence decided as they continued to kiss that to kick her off now would be rude and if he had done it before she’d started then it would have worked, but now he just went with the flow.

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