Wednesday, March 8th, 2006, the same place as before. Silence never left. Blah:
Silence sat at his desk in his office at Inks and Paper Incorporated, his uncle’s business. He had been working there for almost seven years now, ever since his uncle had asked him if he would like a job during his last year of school. Silence had said yes, because a job was a job, and had been there every day since. Well not quite every day since, but you know what that means. The work wasn’t always interesting, in fact it was rarely interesting, but there was nothing really wrong with it either and there was nothing that Silence could think of that he wanted to do instead.
His office was the same size as everybody else’s. He had a desk next to the window, and he sat so that he faced the door. The room was not large, but large enough to have two people sitting on the other side of his desk from him. It had a couple of filling cabinets; they were always important and useful, and the walls were dark cream with a brown carpet on the floor. Silence liked his office. It was his, and that was reason enough to not like it, but he did. He did not look at other people’s offices and wish that theirs was his, no; he sat in his and was thankful that all the other employees did not have his. It wouldn’t have made much difference though, if they had his and he had theirs, well, the office he would be in would be his. This meant that they would never have his, and he could never have theirs.
Shuffling aside some paperwork, he concentrated on the sums standing in a row in front of him. Silence did a bit of everything, it was his job. He collected the mail, did the book keeping, mailed orders for his uncle, and helped customers whenever he could. Helping the customers who came in asking for certain stationery items was not his favourite job. Sometimes it called for someone who could speak though, as some customers didn't always have the patience to wait for him to write out a reply and hand it to them to read. They wanted someone who could say things and say them fast so that they could get their stuff and leave as soon as possible. That had been a problem for a long time now. Not everyone had the patience to wait. It was so much faster to just say things, to hear someone say something. Even though he could write at the same speed as someone could speak, that person still had to read what he wrote, and not everyone could read fast.
He was alerted to the fact that someone had sent him a message by a bell ringing on his desk. In all the other offices the employees had telephones to contact each other, but in his he had a sort of recording computer. Someone would say what they wanted to say into their phone, and then it would go along the line to his computer and let him hear what was said. He could then reply by typing a message using the computer and send it to whoever had sent the first message; they would then receive his reply on their computer screen. Or, if they had it on a certain setting, their computer would speak his reply. It was quite simple.
He reached over and pressed play on the message and turned back to reading the sums. It was from his friend Brian on the first floor, Customer Services; he was telling him that there was a lady downstairs who wanted to see him.
A lady, thought Silence in annoyance. Well, he got quite a few ladies asking for him, that was nothing new, but still, they always wanted to see him. The men that came didn’t seem to like speaking to him because he could never speak back, but the women? They, they liked talking to him. He was not quite sure why, maybe because he couldn’t speak back to them.
His colleagues at work always joked about how many women wanted to speak to him instead of the others. They would say: ‘Finally they have found a guy that won’t talk back! Pity there aren’t any girls with your condition, ay, Silence?!’ And then they would laugh. Silence would smile politely and then go back to work.
Turning aside from his sums he typed a reply back asking if she would see someone else. There were times when he got tired of the joking. He sent the message off and a moment later a reply came telling him that Brian would check.
Silence returned to his work, he was almost done with the sums, another few minutes and he would be complete. He checked his watch, and then off to lunch, he thought happily, providing the lady doesn’t insist on seeing me. The bell dinged a few minutes later and he clicked play.
‘You’re saved, Silence. She said that she supposed she could see someone else. She sounded disappointed though, but I told her that you were really busy and that maybe next time you’d see her. That cheered her up.’ The message ended.
Silence sighed. He hated it when that happened. He would have to ask them about that. Who cares if the ladies get disappointed when they are told I can’t see them, there are about a thousand employees being paid to talk to people like her! Why do they have to pick me! He thought angrily as a he replied, ‘Thanks very much!’ and then returned back to work, hopefully without any more interruptions.
Five minutes later Silence was done. He rose from his seat, stretched, collected his coat and left his office for lunch. He had an hour.
Though there was a perfectly good cafeteria downstairs for employees, Silence preferred to go out for lunch. There was a burger place just down the road that he knew of, and he had come to know the guys working there quite well.
He entered one of the lifts and pressed G. Within a minute he was on his way towards the front door of the building.
Had the map of the route not been memorised perfectly in his mind, and he had been paying attention to the people around him, he would have missed walking into the woman standing in the middle of the floor looking around. They collided into each other and both fell to the floor in a heap, Silence ending up on top. He froze, numb in shock at what he’d done, and then quickly pulled himself to his feet and helped the lady to hers. He gave her a quick once over to see if she was hurt, which she didn’t seem to be, and noticed she looked to be the same age as he was.
‘Silence!’ the girl cried in surprise when she saw who had collided into her as he helped her to her feet.
Silence didn’t seem to notice that she knew his name as he had pulled out his pad and a pencil and was writing her a note apologising.
She continued to smile in pleasant surprise at him, not seeming to care that he had just run into her.
‘Hello, Silence,’ she repeated as he finally finished his note, explaining in the beginning of it why he wasn’t talking, and handed it to her.
It was only after he had reached out the note for her to take did he realise she knew his name. He frowned and turned the note over and wrote: Do I know you?
She took the note the second time he handed it to her and nodded after reading it.
‘Firstly, I am fine. No need to apologise, Silence, I too should have been watching where I was going. Second, you don’t remember me?’ she sounded disappointed as she asked him.
Silence shook his head slowly, still puzzled by who she was.
He wrote her another note asking who she was and how she knew his name.
‘I’ve known you for ages! Well, sort of, we never really met. Well we did, but it wasn’t for long. I would say the last time we saw each other would have been about five years ago. We didn’t talk for long, if I remember correctly you didn’t talk at all and I ended the conversation by running out on you in tears. I am sorry about that; I had a panic attack, a delayed sort of shock. Ring any bells?’
Silence looked her over again; she did look to be his age, and was shorter than him by about a couple of inches. She too had black hair, or just very dark brown, and her eyes were pale blue. There was a faint memory of her in his head, a younger her, but he shook his head again anyway.
The girl sighed. ‘You rescued me out of a burning blaze! Well, I don’t know if there was a blaze, I never saw any of it,’ she laughed cheerfully.
That part about rescuing her from a burning blaze definitely brought memories back. Susan?
She smiled again as she read the note. ‘You got it on the dot! Except you didn’t use a full stop, you used a question mark, also used to end sentences sometimes.’
Silence didn’t reply; he wasn’t sure what to do or say. He had not seen her in ages, years; they had never seen each other again at school, so he had no idea what she’d been up to. His stomach rumbled slowly and an idea formed in his mind.
I have got about fifty minutes break before I have to go back to work, would you like to have lunch with me?He asked.
‘I would love to!’ she replied, sounding pleased. ‘Where?’
A burger place just down the road, I normally have lunch there.
‘Well then, better lead the way!’
Silence and Susan, whom Silence found out her full name to be Susan Jessica Seganto, ordered their meals and sat down at one of the tables outside. It was a nice day in the city; it was sunny, but not too hot, there was also a nice breeze.
‘So, I haven’t seen you for a while, Silence, what have you been up to since you left school?’ Susan asked as she sat across from him at their table.
I’ve been working, at my uncle’s firm. He slid the note over to her and she picked it up and read it.
‘Is that it? Just working? For what, five years?’
Silence shook his head. Seven.
Susan looked at him in surprise. ‘Seven years? You’ve been working for seven years?’
Silence nodded his head.
I started about a year after finishing school. My uncle offered me a place and I accepted. I haven’t worked every day since I took the job, about two years in I took what money I had and left for about a year almost for a holiday.
‘A year is an awful long time to go away for a holiday,’ Susan remarked interestedly, ‘where did you go?’
Away. Europe mostly, there were places I wanted to see. I hired a car and travelled around for a bit, then stopped by Italy and spent about five months there.
‘That sounds like fun. I’d love to travel, to see the world and everything in it. All those different sights, those places, the smells and the food. I think that would be marvelous,’ she sighed dreamily, lost in her thoughts.
Silence nodded his head in agreement. It was marvelous.
The topic was changed by Susan as she shook herself out of her dreams and asked what he did with his spare time when he wasn’t working.
Anything. Silence told her. I live in the city now; there are lots of things to do.
Silence paused with his pen just above the paper. Like what? I go for walks on the weekend. Not long ones, just to the park, sometimes I’ll spend the day in the park. Not doing anything. And then I’ll go home. It’s not much that I do, but it’s what I do and I enjoy it.
Susan nodded, smiling at the thought. ‘It sounds like fun.’
A young man in black came out holding a tray with their drinks and placed them down on to the table. He left and returned a couple of minutes later baring another tray, this time with two plates with burgers on top. Placing them down in front of Silence and Susan, he made sure it was what they had ordered and left.
The conversation lulled as they both dug into their lunches, pausing only to drink.
Their lunches finished, they both headed on back to Inks and Paper Incorporated, Susan’s destination taking her past Silence’s work.
What have you been up to since I last saw you? That would be quite a few years; I don’t remember seeing you once since that night you came by my hospital room to say thanks.
‘Well, I finished high school, just like you did, and then I sort of took a break while I worked out what to do with my life. Now I’m studying Journalism.'
Silence nodded.Are you enjoying it?
‘Oh yes, I’m enjoying it immensely! In fact I came to the city to see about a job for it,’ she explained. ‘That’s what I was doing in Inks and Paper. I was seeing about buying some stationery for work.’
Have you found a job?
‘Yes and no. I applied for a job, and the editor of the newspaper told me that if I bring him an interesting enough story I can get the job.’
‘Yeah.’ She sighed, ‘He’s given me a month to find a story and write up the article.’ She shrugged. ‘I don’t know if I’ll get it done, it’s hard to find something that will actually be thought interesting enough.’
I suppose so.
They walked in silence.
So you’re studying Journalism, but you’ve applied for a job doing it? Silence asked a moment later.
‘Yeah, getting a job will help with my studies. I’ll get paid too, maybe, or they’ll just take me on for volunteer work. Who knows? I saw a movie once where this editor of a newspaper said that he worked his way up from a newspaper boy to editor without any experience. Or he said something like that. So if I’m lucky and get this story I might get a job and if I’m like him I might not have to continue with my studies. I guess we’ll find out.’
Silence nodded again. It seemed like a good plan. It might work, though not continuing with your studies would mean not learning how certain things go.
‘Say, Silence, what do your mom and dad do? I know what you do, and your uncle as you told me you work for him, and I know that you live with your him and your aunt, but what about your parents?’
Silence didn’t write anything for a while as they walked, and Susan was afraid that she’d said something wrong. But at last Silence wrote something down and handed the note to her.
My parents are dead. They died when I was four.
‘Oh,’ Susan replied quietly as she read the note. ‘I’m sorry, Silence, I didn’t know.’
Silence shrugged. You weren’t to have known. I don’t really tell anybody.
‘How did they die? Not that you have to answer that, it’s really none of my business to ask,’ she told him hurriedly. ‘Sorry…’
It’s okay. They died in a car crash in the mountains of Italy. That’s where I’m from originally, a village called Paura.He wrote.I don’t remember them. He added a moment later.
'So you don't remember being told?’
Silence shook his head. I was with them in the car when they died. That’s about all I remember.
Susan looked at him in shock. ‘And you were the only survivour?’ She continued looking at him when he didn’t reply, after a moment he slowly nodded his head.
‘That must have been terrible just waiting in a wrecked car for someone to come along and find you!’
Silence shook his head. I wasn’t found in the car. I was found on the other side of the mountain, hugging my parent’s graves until a priest found me crying in the graveyard and took me in.
Susan’s eyes widened at the thought, and then she frowned. ‘How did you get over the mountain? Who buried your parents?’
That is the mystery. It’s what I was told. Silence lied. He hadn’t been told.
‘It is a mystery,’ agreed Susan, a thoughtful expression resting on her face.
They both walked on, not saying anything, both just thinking about things until they reached Silence’s office on the third floor.
As they said goodbye and Susan was just about to leave, she had an idea and stopped. She turned, a grin beaming on her face.
‘I’ve just had this great idea!’ she cried, ‘I could write my newspaper article on you!’
Silence’s eyebrows rose in shock.
‘I don’t know what I’ll call it, but it’ll be about you! The mystery of how your parents died! I’m sure you’d love to find out how you ended up where you did! Well it was great seeing and talking to you again, Silence,’ she abruptly changed the subject. ‘We’ll catch up later, all right? Good.’
Before Silence could stop her she turned and hurried away, leaving him stunned and suddenly sick with fear.
No one had ever wanted to find out how his parents had got over the mountain, they had all agreed that it was a mystery never to be solved, the same with how they had really died.
Silence’s mind raced, he’d never had to worry about people finding out his secret because no one was ever interested, and now Susan wanted to use it for a story!
He rushed to the door of his office and yanked it open just as the bell on his desk started to ring. He groaned as he would have to answer it, otherwise it would continue to ring.
Crossing back over to his desk he clicked play. Brian’s voice started to play through the speaker.
‘So I saw you with that young lady I was telling you about earlier. You decide to meet with her after all?’
Silence frowned and sat down on his seat. What do you mean? He asked, pressing enter for the message to go through.
‘That was the girl who was asking to meet with you before. I said I’d help her but she said that she’d come back another time and see if you’d see her then.’
Silence’s brow creased in thought as he leant back in his seat and stared off at a smudge on the glass window. He had a lot to think about.
He didn’t end up having that much time to worry about Susan’s request -No; she hadn’t requested to use him as a story to get her job, she had what? Told him that she was going to use him and then that was the end- because shortly after she had left he had been swamped with work. But however she had said she was going to use his story for a story, he would have to stop her. His name was the key to his secret. But what was the secret? No-one was to know. His name told him: Why was he called Mourner? Because he was a mourner when he was taken in to the orphanage. Why? Because his family had just died. How? That was the reason he had been called Silence. He couldn’t talk. Why? Because no-one must know.
By the time he arrived home he was too tired to eat dinner and went straight up to bed. He’d worry about this development in the morning.
His sleep was restless as he had dreams he never thought he would have, and the things inside them he never thought he would dream of actually seeing, but he did see them. He did scream, and he most certainly did wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweet.
He pulled the sheets back and moved to the bathroom just two doors down from his room. He closed the door and flicked on the light so as not to wake his roommate in the room next to him, if he hadn’t already woken up. Turned the tap on he waited until the sink had filled up with cool water before sticking his face into the pool. It felt so cool against his hot skin. He pulled his face out and sank down to the floor. After a couple of minutes he got back to his feet and pulled off his pyjama shirt and splashed the water over his body. He dried himself off and mopped up the mess on the floor before unlocking the door and heading back to his room.
His dream hadn’t been a pretty one, it was one that scared him. He thought he had lost that memory, seen the last of it.
Before he fell asleep he lay wondering about his name, what it meant and how it would unlock his past. Well, it would unlock it like any key would. You slip it into the lock and you twist until the lock pops open. And so falling asleep with his name in the lock, it unlocked his subconscious and he remembered the reason for his silence…
Some seventeen years ago, the Alps with a view of death:
The snow fell as it often does in times of winter in places where it gets cold enough for the rain on its way down to freeze into tiny flakes of chilled raindrops. But though being frozen they did not break as they hit the roof of the speeding car as it drove along the winding mountain road.
Inside in the driver’s seats sat Arthur Crash, next to him sat his darling wife, Mary. In the back seat behind the front passenger’s seat sat Georgia, their eldest child, and next to her sat buckled in, Jonathan Crash.
Though they felt panicked and fearful, Arthur and his wife tried not to show it. It wouldn’t do any good they knew to worry their children. Best not to let them know why they were running. Maybe when they’re older, thought Arthur.
He glanced over at his wife and she gripped his hand, fearful that if she let go he would disappear. Arthur hoped they could make it over the border they were heading towards, if they did they would be safe, he hoped with all his heart. The fate of himself, his wife and children rested on getting over the border.
They had started on their journey about an hour before. Arthur hoped, and he did a lot of hoping, that maybe they wouldn’t be missed until much later. By that time it would be too late, they could send men after them but they would be out of the country and preferably on a train or plane heading somewhere where they could be truly safe.
He peered in to the rear view mirror and saw a pair of lights behind him. Suddenly scared that they had found him missing sooner than expected and had caught him up already, he floored the acceleration pedal and the car zoomed forwards.
Glancing again into the mirror to see if the car was still there, Arthur was horrified to note that it had kept up an even pace with him. He kept the pedal down and the car continued to zoom faster forwards.
Corners came up fast and he spun the steering wheel as fast as he could to go around them. The car swerved and back tires slid across the icy road, and still the car behind them kept up an even pace.
Sweat poured down Arthur’s face in fear and desperation to get away. And taking too long to stare into the rear view mirror, he missed seeing the curve loom up ahead. In high speed the car crashed through the wooden railing protecting anything from going further, and their car rocketed over the side of the cliff.
Silence shot up in bed, his heart thumping as his mind went over the memory again and again. He could do nothing to shake the feelings that he felt as he tried to tell himself that it was just a dream, that wasn’t how it had happened. He had only been four, how could he remember something like that? Most likely he had been asleep during the whole thing, but that was what showed up in his memory. Why should he be quiet about that? Deep inside his mind his subconscious spoke: Because it’s not true. It’s a lie. You know what happened, and so many people believe the lie of how your family died that this is what you also believe. Your mind has made up a false memory to trick you. Remember the truth!
With his heart still thumping, he rolled over, and closing his eyes, tried to go back to sleep.