Enjoy the Silence

July 8, 2009
I have forgotten the sound of her voice.

The perfect melody of chiming crystal bells on a cold winter’s night, uttering my name. So simple, yet an entire song composed within a single word.

“Cassie.”

It is my own voice that speaks my name tonight, whispering into the dead night air, the mist rising above me and disappearing into the cold. I speak it to try and refresh the depths of my mind, to bring back that sound as clear as the wind blowing the dying grass all around me. But her voice escapes me for the thousandth time, sand slipping between my frozen fingers. In two weeks time, I have forgotten the sound of my only sister’s voice.

I knew it would happen, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. I can envision her speaking, and I imagine her voice but it doesn’t seem right anymore. The sound doesn’t match her soft, rosy cheeks or her deep green eyes. Her hair reminds me of sunshine, spilling over her shoulders in unkempt strands. Her face’s perfection ruined by the voice I condemn her to. It is like sandpaper grinding against metal, tarnishing the surface. Tarnishing the beauty she is.

For a moment, lying in the grass, I almost fool myself into thinking that I have also forgotten the sound of the stream, trickling calmly in its crevice through the woods. The path is winding, yet I know it well for I remember the countless times my sister and I traveled it.

We would run barefoot through the brambles, the rough soles of our feet oblivious to the razor sharp thorns. Enjoying the breeze of a warm summer day still dressed in our Sunday clothes. As soon as winter fell upon us, we wouldn’t go out during the day anymore. We’d stay inside, cozy near the fire sipping hot chocolate and playing games.

But as soon as night fell, and our parents had tucked us into bed and kissed us goodnight, we would climb out. Then we would meet at the mailbox. I made sure to tell her to bundle up from our boots to our hooded coats. Silently, we’d walk through the narrow forest, weaving in and out of different pathways. Slowly we would trek a path of our own, until we reached the creek.

Still shrouded in the silence of the forest, we would stand on the bank and gaze down at the rippling water, as it journeyed down the stream. For hours, it seemed we would stand and stare at the beauty of the scene. Moonlight cascaded down over the water, its silver rays resting on the clear surface. Occasionally, there would be a gentle breeze, rustling the bare branches above us, but the silence would remain just the same to me.

One night in particular, I remember meeting her at the mailbox, as always, but something was different. The air held a faint, musty smell unmistakable to me. Snow.

Quicker than ever before, we rushed through the woods, navigating the path by heart the fresh snow crunching beneath our boots. We laughed without a care of who would hear. Racing each other to the stream at the edge of the forest. I began to instinctively listen for the familiar sound of running water, but I heard nothing.

As soon as we reached the bank, I realized why. Gazing, I stood completely mesmerized at the strange, but beautiful sight. The water had been swallowed in the depths of time, frozen solid in a glistening sheet of ice. The moonlight was still that night, just as the stream. The trees seemed to smile down at us, their branches flowing freely in the gentle breeze of the night.

She looked over at me, her eyes shining brightly, her smile captivating me. She gave a small laugh, the sweetest sound I had ever heard, and tugged on my arm. I was reluctant at first, not aware that the ice was thick enough to walk on.

“Trust me.”

The clarity of her ringing voice hypnotized me in that instant and I took a cautious step onto the ice. To my happy surprise it did not break underneath my weight. It didn’t even so much as shift. She began to dance, twirl around like a ballerina. The moonlight illuminated her angel-like features, setting her blonde locks to white, her green eyes to silver, and her loving smile to heaven.

It is the last memory I have of her. We were out for longer than normal, and on the way back home I didn’t bother to stop and look both ways before crossing the street. She ran ahead of me and before I could do anything she was soaring through the air, and ripping through the night. I remember running after her motionless body and screaming her name over and over. She remained unmoving.

My family took her to the emergency room, and the doctors tore her away from me. I was forced to sit in the waiting room. The fluorescent lights above me hurt my eyes, and the stench of death surrounded me. I felt sick, mostly because the idea of life without my sister made me feel nauseous. But also, with reason, that it was my fault.

She hasn’t woken up since then. Now, for two weeks she has remained asleep in the hospital bed. She looks so pale now, all of the tubes and wires running through her. Hope is what my parents decided to call it. Artificial life is what I call it. I know she’s dying. She no longer glows.

Every night, after we’ve left the hospital, I dream of her. I dream of her waking, her eyes fluttering open, revealing their emerald once more. Her flush returns to her face and the smile is reborn. Everything is well again. Until I imagine her trying to call my name. Once again, the perfect world I have created for dreaming is shattered into a thousand pieces as an unfamiliar voice escapes her lips. That’s when I wake up screaming and crying, twisted in the knots of my blanket.

Today is still very clear in my mind. I woke up drowsily, and quickly threw on a sweater and jeans. I ate very little for breakfast, swallowing it quickly. The car ride to the hospital was long and agonizing, just like it always is. Only today it was raining; I counted it as a bad omen. My family went directly to her room, staring at her motionless form again. Usually we stay, uninterrupted by anyone but today, the doctor taking care of my sister came in.

“We don’t think she’s going to wake up. I’m sorry.”

My heart froze, and I didn’t even try to hold back the tears that came rushing down my face. My eyes stung and I could taste the salt in my mouth. I suddenly felt cold, and alone. My best friend, and my only sister, would never open her eyes again. Never spread her joy into the world again.

Lying here tonight reminds me just how truly alone I am. It snowed again last night, just like it did two weeks ago. All of the flowers in the garden out front are dead. Buried underneath gleaming crystalline flakes, they will never return.

I only have fragments of memories left over. They are scattered in the corner of my mind, out of order. I’ve been trying to put them back together the way they were, but nothing I’m doing is working. Every passing second rips me farther away from my sister. It will keep pulling until there’s nothing left. I will forget.

But that is the last thing in the world I want to do: to forget. That is weak. She always looked up to me and told me how brave and strong I was. I don’t know where she got that idea, but I never got to tell her the only reason she thought I was strong was because she was my strength. But she’s gone now. All I know is the memories that I have left, even though they are quickly fading. All I feel is black and white. I close my eyes tonight, enjoying the silent serenity of the forest, and only hope to dream of my sister.





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