The Cauldron Of Silence This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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December 12, 2034 - "And now on the five o'clock news: A 15-year-old girl,born deaf, miraculously gained the ability to hear yesterday. Alreadythis girl has been hailed a saint by some, a messiah by others ..."

"Why do they keep coming?" I asked mypaint-splattered ceiling. "I'm not their Amessiah.' I'm not thenew ATommy.' I'm just a girl who doesn't understand why this happened toher. I realize that I should feel gratitude for this wonderful miracle.I know that thousands of deaf people would give their right arms to gainthe ability to hear. I should feel overjoyed."

And I did ...at first.

That first day, when my ears first heard the sweet songof the blue bird, I was ecstatic. I had spent my entire childhood gazingat the many birds that lived in the oak tree by my arched window,wondering what kind of sounds they made, wondering what sound even was.But when my doctor's nurse informed the press about the miracle, I beganto hear a different kind of tune. Everywhere I went, I heard whisperedspeculations, wondering why I had regained the hearing I never had, andwhether to look upon it as a blessing or a curse.

Soon, themasses began to arrive. A steady stream of the deaf, blind, mute,crippled and ill made the trek to my family's small, one-story house innortheast Indiana. Although I didn't know how to help them, I could notbear to turn away those silent souls with their large, hopeful eyes. Icould only give them a small encouraging word or look and try not tonotice their disappointment.

"I just do not understand whythey continue to come. Can't they see that I'm just likethem?"

"Rebekah," my mother's clear, ringing voicecalled, startling me out of my thoughts. How I loved to hear her voice!"You have some more ... visitors."

Slowly, I pulledmyself up from my small, white-clad bed. I ran my fingers through mytousled, blond hair and walked into my father's prized library, whichhad become a meeting place for me and the "pilgrims." Thelibrary, where I had spent countless hours reading during my silentchildhood, was the only place I could face the masses with anybravery.

Looking up from the rust-colored carpeting, my eyes tookin a small, thinly clad girl of five. She had short, mouse-brown hairand looked like she had not eaten in days. Her eyes caught my attention.They were the blackest eyes I had ever seen and they stared back at mewith a frightening intensity. The girl seemed a strange paradox ofchildish innocence and the world's hard reality.

Tearing my eyesaway, I noticed a middle-aged woman next to her. The woman, who wore athin, faded blue dress, seemed an older, sadder replica of the girl. Shehesitantly stepped forward and held out her thin, callused hand. Takingit, I was surprised to feel a strong grip, not weak like the rest ofher.

"I'm sorry to bother you, Miss Schall," the womanbegan, withdrawing her hand.

"It's no problem," Ianswered quietly, gesturing to sit in one of the rocking chairs. Afterthe three of us sat, she began again.

"My name is MelindaRoberts and this is my daughter, Susan," Melinda said, gesturingtoward the little girl, who sat quietly, staring at the walls of books.I noticed that Susan had not reacted to her name. "Now, I'm notexpecting a miracle - at least not directly from you. We're God-fearingfolk and believe your miracle was sent by Him. I simply wished to speakto one who had been saved, not only in the spiritual way, but also in aphysical way."

Having said this, Melinda sunk back into thechair, as if exhausted from saying so much at one time. Glancing atSusan and back at the deeply-breathing Melinda, I asked,

"Iassume that your daughter cannot hear?"

"Oh, no,"Melinda answered, shaking her head. "She never has been able to,just like you. We haven't been able to afford teachers to teach her signlanguage or anything - my husband, Bob, died in a car accident a fewmonths after Susan's birth. I teach piano to get us food, but ... "She trailed off, looking down at her folded hands.

Not knowingwhat to say, my attention returned to Susan. She had gotten up and stoodwith a maroon book in her hands. On an impulse, I walked over and turnedthe book so I could see the title: Alice In Wonderland. Withoutturning, I inquired softly,

"Can sheread?"

"Oh yes," Melinda answered behind me."Somehow, she understands the written word incredibly well. Ibarely had to teach her anything."

Susan's wide, dark eyeskept darting from my face to the book. Tears filling my eyes, I took myhands from the book and put them on top of hers. Then, turning quicklytoward the double doors, I said quietly,

"She can have anybook here. I'm sorry I cannot do more."

Without waiting fora reply, I ran to my room, fell on the couch and sobbed myself to sleep.When I awoke, I found myself standing at the top of a long, spiralingstaircase which led into an unknown darkness. Confused and frightened,my first impulse was to turn around. When I did, I was greeted by acement wall. I had no choice but to enter into the frightening, dark,bleak space below me.

Walking down the crumbling staircase, I letmy thoughts wander. I wondered if it was a dream or reality. The onlyreality I seemed to see was Susan's haunting eyes, which called out andasked why she could not be cured.

Suddenly, I began to see afaint light below me, glowing like the light of heaven itself. I beganto climb down the apparently ancient stairs faster and faster until theyfinally and abruptly ended.

After my eyes adjusted to the suddenabundance of overpowering light, I realized I was standing at the edgeof a bright, cramped room. In the center lay an ancient cauldron, whichstood on iron legs shaped like lions' paws. I stood there, staring inawe, as, one by one, millions of silent souls entered the room and drankthe clear liquid that lay festering in the cauldron. I watched as, oneby one, they all turned away with disappointed, downcasteyes.

One such soul, shivering and thin like the others, suddenlygrew angry at the cauldron and began to kick it fiercely. I watched,horrified, as the raging man pounded at the metal with his own flesh,cursing the sense of hope it mockingly symbolized. Exhausted, he fledthe room sobbing.

Slowly, I crept toward the cauldron. I had tosee what all of these people had come for. Peering into its water, thesmooth liquid began to swirl into a violent whirlpool until I could seeSusan's eyes reflected in it. The water then transformed to spell out amessage in watery, mystical penmanship:

Drink with a pureheart,

Filled with unselfish desires,

And another will becured

While yourself it mires.

The water then calmed and,as I tore my eyes from the cauldron, I saw that a tall, golden cup saton the pearl floor next to me. I bent and picked up the chalicegingerly, examining the intricately carved lines of gold. Withoutconsciously making a decision, I dipped the gold metal into the now-darkwater.

Before I raised the cup to my lips, I took one last lookinto the cauldron. Susan's sorrowful eyes shown back at me, pleading. Iquickly swallowed the liquid and fell to the spinning ground secondslater.

December 13, 2034

"Your regularly scheduledprogramming has been interrupted to bring you this specialreport.

"Fifteen-year-old Rebekah Schall, recently deemed anew-age messiah, was found dead this morning by her mother. Schall, whohad miraculously gained the ability to hear after a life of deafness,was found lying on her kitchen floor at 6: 54 a.m., clutching a bottleof poison in her right hand. Doctors pronounced her dead at 7: 58 a.m.Those who have examined her have determined that she was asleep at thetime of death, so one can assume that this was a tragic mishap duringsleepwalking. We will never know for certain ... "

December 20, 2034

"And now on the five o'clocknews - just days after young Rebekah Schall was found dead, a newAmiracle messiah' has appeared. Five-year-old Susan Roberts, born deaf,has gained the ability to hear. It has been reported that just prior toMiss Schall's death, Miss Roberts had taken the trek to the Schalls'residence. Although a startling coincidence, no proof has surfaced tosuggest that the miracle is directly linked to the death of Miss Schallin any way ...


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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