|Sound of Silence
Author: what the dormouse said PM
It doesn't do to live in silence. Nothing has ever been solved by keeping your mouth closed. Remember that."Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 948 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 09-16-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2848022
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sound of Silence
It had been my first day back at work since...Well, since "it" happened. Actually, it was a day of firsts, and not just for me; it was also my first day starting the job as a care assistant for Brooklea Care Home, and my first time working in months.
I left my house early, grateful to leave behind the silence and the weight of too many memories. The drive to the care home was pleasant enough; I listened to the radio, laughed at the banter of the two presenters. Brooklea was situated in the country, and it was a converted manor house with sprawling grounds.
I was given a tour of the building, before they left me to look after one patient – Ted.
"Ted came here when he was twenty five," they told me. "He hasn't spoken since. He has a sister, but not even she knows why he doesn't speak.
Ted was huge. That's the only word to describe him – broad shoulders, thick wrists, large hands, wide neck, but his face was pale, gaunt, and his eyes looked dead, completely devoid of emotion.
He sat in his room, staring out of the window. There was a Beatles poster on the wall, and a picture of him staring dully into the camera, with a younger woman grinning out at us. I presumed she was his sister.
I bustled around the room, cleaning and arranging, chattering pointlessly, telling him how it was my first day, how I was married. My voice broke when I said I had no children, but I managed to recover pretty quickly.
An hour passed, and he hadn't moved. It was a gorgeous day outside, sunny and bright, the colours of the trees and flowers almost overpowering, so I announced that we were going on a walk.
Ted moved slow, plodding almost, as I held on to his arm. I could see his face clearly now, and behind the lines and pallor and lack of emotion I could see the ghost of a once handsome man. I wondered why he hadn't spoken in twenty-five years.
"I was engaged once," he said, suddenly, his voice raspy and hoarse from disuse. "Her name was Ellen. I loved her very much."
I stared at him in amazement, but he didn't seem to notice.
"I was wild when I was young," he continued. "Ellen, she tamed me. She took no notice of my aggression – she just accepted all of my bad points and loved me anyway."
"She sounds like a good woman," I said carefully.
"She was," he agreed. "Kind, and gentle. She would have made a good mother. I'd have loved to see her with our child."
His eyes were sad, wide. He looked like he could cry, which looked so strange on a man of his stature.
"What happened?" I asked, raising one eyebrow.
He lowered his head. "Ellen never met my family," he said slowly. "I was selfish, and I didn't want to share her. I kept our engagement a secret. I never..." His voice broke. "I never spoke to them about it."
Oh, those words sounded so familiar. I thought about my husband, and his fight to try and get me to talk about "it". For something that we do everyday, though, speaking can be awfully hard sometimes.
Ted carried on with his story. "Ellen got angry," he reflected. "I'd never seen her so angry before. She...She thought I was ashamed of her. I never told her the truth, that I was just scared she'd take one look at my family and run."
He took in a long, deep, shaky breath. "She was run down by a car two hours later," he whispered. "I never spoke again."
There was silence. "I regret it now, though," he confessed. "Ellen, she wouldn't want the silence. She'd want me to talk, to move on."
He fixed me with an eerily knowing and pointed stare. "It doesn't do to live in silence," he said. "Nothing has ever been solved by keeping your mouth closed. Remember that."
And he walked off, unaided by me, left me stood there next to a bush of sunny, yellow roses. I watched his form retreat, growing smaller and smaller, as he neared the care home.
That night, I went home. I saw the bin bag of toys I'd put together, sat by the door. His favourite teddy had fallen out, forgotten on the floor. I picked it up.
I could hear my husband, cooking in the kitchen. He was listening to the Beatles, "Norwegian Wood".
I squeezed the teddy, and kissed its fluffy head, inhaling the scent.
Then, I took a breath, and went to talk about it.
Author's Note: I had to write this in college. I got an A/B for it, which I'm pretty pleased about. We had about forty five minutes to write it, and we were given a set of prompts and a list of genres to write in. I picked Romance, and the prompt I chose basically said that a man who hadn't spoken in twenty five years suddenly speaks whilst being taken on a walk by a new care worker at a care home. I'm not sure it's exactly romance, but drama wasn't an option. Still, the teacher didn't seem to notice.
This had definite influences from Roger and Val Have Just Got In, as well as Adam and Jessica's storyline with baby Harry from a few months ago in Casualty. Just in case anyone was wondering. Or cares.