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Chapter 1: The Melodies of Silence
Disclaimer: This is writter for the Stream of Consciousness challenge. I was not allowed to plan, outline, or edit.
The sound of the back door swinging shut, of foot steps on the lane, of the gate latching, and finally of several distinct pops filled me with a distinct void. Perhaps these sounds emptied me in actuality. Emptied me and left a gaping void in their wake. This void was silent. The gaping silent void left me feeling uneasy, as though this silence would swallow me. As though I would disappear into this silence never to be seen again.
My heart flutters. I am not used to the sound of silence. In the kitchen, even the sink is silent. The multitude of dishes used during the now past family dinner had already been washed and lay idle on the sink board drying. Drying in silence. Even the kettle was simmering in silence over the fire grate. Tea. Of course. I bustle in the cabinets looking for the tea canister.
The sound of the cabinet doors opening seems loud. I feel like I’m breaking some sacred law to scrape the container and boxes aside to retrieve the tea canister. At long last, I find it and slide it to the front of the cabinet. The sound of the metal grating against the wooden shelf threatens to give me away. I pause. Look over my shoulder half expecting to see someone behind me. Waiting. Waiting to correct me for breaking the tangible silence that now fills the house.
I exhale. I am being silly. I am not a child. I am a grown woman. A woman soon to be a grandmother for Merlin’s sake. Silence is not a being. It is just the absence of sound. My lips purse together. I chide myself and scoop the rebellious noisy tea canister off of the shelf as loudly as I can. I slam the cabinet door shut. A foreign giggle crashes through the silent kitchen. I start. Then I realize that it was my giggle. How silly.
Humming to myself I dance over to the fire grate with the mischievous metal tea tin.
I finish my tea still humming and float with a steaming mug of it into the sitting room. The room sighs in relief. It does not like to be alone either. I sigh in response. The room really does look big. I mutter a charm lovingly to my knitting needles which click to life. Slurp the tea. It is too warm. The clock ticks. Its handles spread out over the expanse of options. I mimic the room and sigh too. This is the sound of my life. The sound of my silence. Knitting needles clicking rhythmically. The rungs of the rocker squeaking against the once polished wood floor beneath it. The occasional vocalization from my own mouth. And the mechanical second hand of the clock. Tick tock. Tick tock. The moments of silence rush by. No. Crawl by.
Another sip of tea. Much better. Not so hot this time. I settle into the silence, sipping at my tea. And then from the silence comes something beautiful. It is a familiar and melodious. I tilt my ears, trying to capture as much of silent melody as I can.
From the corner of the sitting room I hear a scratching quill. Scratch scritch scratch. Quick words flow from this quill. The sound of terrible rock music accompanies it. I smile as from the emptiness of the corner I can see Billy sprawled out. Messy hair and bright eyes. His head bobs along with the music. His quill flies over a piece of parchment. My eyes blink and he is gone. The sound of his music and quill float on in the silence.
An explosion sounds from a room at the top of the staircase. Hushed but panicked voices fill my ears. I can see my Georgie and Freddie’s dirty and ash covered faces peer around the landing of the stairs. They smile and wave at me. Innocence is their act. My throat feels very tight. A sip of tea for it. The twins’ waving hands fade into the faded paint of the wall behind them. The lines of melody swirling in the silence grows. Melodious is the silence that presses in on me. Explosions, guilty whispering, a scratching quill, tacky rock music. Harmonize and flow out of the silence in the house.
From outside, the shed door slams shut. I hear a voice animatedly chatting about some game or another and the bristles of a muddy broomstick being drug across my clean floor. My eyes are clenched shut. I know what I will see when I open them. Charlie. Grass-stained and filthy dragging a broom and muddying up my house. I squeeze my eyes more tightly shut. Green and purple stars fill by black screen of vision. When I open them, I see only a doorway. Charlie too has joined into the melody of silence cursing through the house. Quidditch talk, dragging muddy broomsticks, explosions, guilty whispering, a scratching quill, tacky rock music. The sounds of my knitting needles and the clock on the wall are not alone. They keep time for the melodious orchestra silence has brought together.
A tiny throat clears and a door tries to slam with authority and then nothing. Lips pursed, I sallow hard. I can see a tiny Percy buried away in his room. Head buried in a large and dusty book. I wait for it. A page turn and an excited exclamation of discovery. My lips curl up into a smile. Inhale, exhale. Tick tock. Tick tock. Scritch Scratch. The dynamics of the silence was increasing. Exclamations of discovery, page turn, door slam, quidditch talk, dragging muddy broomsticks, explosions, guilty whispering, a scratching quill, tacky rock music. My ears were ringing with familiarity. I know this tune and feel at home in its silent wake.
A glass tips over and shatters to the floor. A tiny voice shrieks. Another voice raises in frustration. Chairs push away from the table and feet scamper off elsewhere in the house. If I were in the kitchen I know I’d see a young Ginny and a messy Ronald standing glaring at the mess on the floor and exchanging accusatory glances with each other. My chair gently rocks. I stand. The knitting needles click away. The clock keeps ticking. My tired footfalls join the symphony. Breaking glass, tiny shrieks, frustrated tones, kitchen chairs, exclamations of discovery, page turn, door slam, quidditch talk, dragging muddy broomsticks, explosions, guilty whispering, a scratching quill, tacky rock music. I’m carried to the kitchen on the sweet and familiar melody of the full silence.
At the kitchen doorway my heart falls. Ronald and Ginny are not standing in a puddle of spilt milk. The kitchen is empty and silent. Silent silent. The heavy tangible oppressive silence pulls several salty tears from my drooping eyelids. I consider turning to leave. Returning to my knitting. But I don’t.
My eyes befall the kitchen table. Every seat is full. Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ronald, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Fleur, and Audrey are seated around the wooden table. Bill’s hand is on his wife’s swollen stomach. Fred sits whole and in one piece. George smiles. Percy looks untroubled. Harry is not scarred. Ginny’s smile warms the room. Ron and Hermione bicker. Dishes scrape and clink together. Laughter dances through the aroma of the meal. My tears run freely. I am standing before a masterpiece. The melodious silence has finally caught up with me. Floating out from the sitting room filling the silence and redefining it. Breaking glass, tiny shrieks, frustrated tones, kitchen chairs, exclamations of discovery, page turn, door slam, quidditch talk, dragging muddy broomsticks, explosions, guilty whispering, a scratching quill, tacky rock music, knitting needles, ticking clock hands, whistling tea kettles, scraping dishes, clinking glassware, and laughter intertwine. The harmony is one of kind. Never to be replicated again. The richest silence on earth. The melodious recollection of thirty years of a life well lived. There was only one thing missing.
The back door opens and familiar footsteps enter the room. I hear the sound of mud being stomped off the bottom of the Wellingtons. I look up.
“Boy oh Boy – it certainly is quiet in here. Silent as a church.” And with those words the melodious layers of silence rush out the door. A flat and silent silence is left in its wake. I am momentarily enraged. I would be enraged. Except that voice is the most perfect voice on earth. I look up into Arthur’s face.
“Thank you.” His clear blue eyes – Bill’s eyes, Percy’s eyes, Ron’s eyes – look down at me questioningly. “Thank you for living life with me.” I know he is confused. Bewildered at my random expression of gratitude, but I know. The beautiful symphony I was privy to could not have been with out him. He is the conductor, the master piece behind each line of music that is our lives. He is confused. The wrinkles on his aged forehead tell me so. But he leans down and kisses me.
“I couldn’t imagine life without you.” He says in his serious voice. The silence in the kitchen presses in on us. It does not frighten me anymore. I know now. I know that if I listen close enough the sounds of our lives, the sounds of our cherished memories fill the silence. Just waiting to be heard.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. This was a bit of an experiment for me, and so some feed back from you would be lovely. Thanks!