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

The street was filled with a cloud of people ­elbowing each other to get a better view as a silent performer bared his soul before them. Maurice, unlike any other mime in New York City, could bring a crowd to tears as he told stories with his body. I had been going to see his performance once a week since I was six. The way his eyes illustrated every emotion left me speechless each time I watched his miraculous presentation. There was so much that I longed to ask him, but I knew that if I did, he would stare in silence, uninterested in breaking his vow to ­indulge my curiosity.

“If you have any questions, I would be happy to ­answer them for you. See me after the performance.”

I had been so enthralled in Maurice's magical ­performance I didn't even notice that his assistant, Henri, had walked onto the makeshift stage with a microphone, wearing a brightly-colored sweater that looked as if a rainbow had thrown up on it. He gave an enlightening introduction about the mime's life before every performance. He would ask for questions after each performance, but I was always too shy.

“I'm going to ask this time,” I whispered to myself as I walked to the end of the line of people who wanted to talk to him. The puzzle that plagued my brain was how this mime, whom everyone admired, could spend his days and years in ­silence. Did he simply have nothing to say?

“And what can I do for you, miss?” Henri asked, a smile playing at his lips.

“Err … well …” I froze. I could feel my face burning as I managed to forget my question entirely.

“Well, there are several people in line behind you. If you have something to ask, I need you to ask quickly so that we can give others a chance.” He grinned widely at me. He couldn't have been more than 15.

“Yes,” I began. “I was wondering how Maurice managed to uphold his vow of silence for all of these years. Surely, he would need to say something at some point.” As I finished the question, I could see Henri's face light up.

“That is my favorite question to answer. I get asked that at least once per show.” He chuckled a little. “Let's just say, I'm really good at Charades.”

I laughed. “So, why do you and Maurice always come to this street? I mean, as popular as this act is, wouldn't you be able to go anywhere with it?” I asked. The smile left his face and was replaced by a thoughtful look.

“Well …” He paused, seeming uncertain. He didn't make eye contact with me as he murmured under his breath: “I will tell you, but not here. Would you be available in about 20 minutes, when all of these ­people are gone?”

I nodded. I wondered why it made him so tense. Something in me wanted to say that it was no problem. He didn't have to tell me, I would understand. But I very much wanted to know.

“I'll wait over here until then.” I walked to a nearby bench and sat. The conversation replayed over and over in my mind. I watched as Maurice signed autographs and Henri continued answering questions.

About 20 minutes later, after the crowd had gone, Henri came over to the bench. Without saying a thing, he gestured to me. Puzzled, I followed. We walked to a little diner two buildings away. We went inside, sat and ordered.

“All right, we can talk now,” Henri said as the waitress left the table. “First of all, what is your name?”

“I'm sorry, my name is Claire. I moved here from France when I was four.” I looked down at the glass of water on the table.

“Hello, Claire, I've seen you in the audience quite often. I think you already know that my name is Henri. It's nice to meet you.” He smiled at me. The waitress came with our food and we began to eat. I had a salad with chicken and mandarin oranges and he had a cheeseburger with fries.

Henri and I talked about everything except what we were here to talk about. He seemed to be avoiding the topic. Suddenly, there was a crash in the kitchen and a can of beans rolled along the floor. The waitress ran after it, trying to catch it.

“All right, you've stalled long enough. Back to my question.” I took the break in conversation as an ­opportunity to change the topic. “Why do you and Maurice keep coming to this particular street?”

“If you really want to know, I'll tell you.” He let out a sigh and put his burger down. “Twelve years ago, we lived in France. Maurice had two children, a boy – me – and a girl. She was a beautiful child whose smile could light up even the dullest of days, and she always found a reason to smile. When she was just four years old she was taken from him by one of his best friends. He tried to stop the man, but they slipped through his fingers. After that, he vowed to spend his life in silence until he got his little girl back.”

“That's when he became a mime?”

“Yes. For the first two years we traveled the world looking for them, and then Maurice heard she had been taken to New York City. So we came here, but we haven't found her yet.” He looked at me with tears in his eyes.

“I have to go.” I got up from the table and hurried out of the restaurant. I ran back to where Maurice had been, hoping he was still there. To my surprise, he was sitting on the very bench I had sat on earlier. He was staring at a bird in front of him that was being fed by a couple of small children. I went and sat beside him. I focused on the bird, too.

“I need to tell you something.” I didn't look up to see if he was listening. I just kept talking. “When I was a little girl, in France, I used to live with my ­father and brother. There was a man who would visit all the time, and he would play with me endlessly. One day, I followed him to his car, and before I knew what was happening he took me. He took me to New York, where I lived with him for years. I managed to escape and I'm staying with a friend now.” I looked up at him. He just stared at me, the white make-up running as the tears streaked down his face. I could feel myself start to cry too as I waited for a reaction.

“Claire,” he said as he smiled at me. “You look like your mother.”

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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This article has 27 comments. Post your own!

abridge said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm:
I liked  it a lot!  I would like some more detail about what happened when she was kidnapped, and maybe a bit of foreshadowing at the beginning.  Great job!
 
Miranda K. replied...
Feb. 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm :
Spectacular!
 
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reenay_95 said...
Nov. 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm:
oh gosh, that was beautiful...
 
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bubj98 said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm:
i believe this story has much potential .novel material....yes.short story......I WANT MORE please.perhaps a flash back from maurice,how did claire feel,what happens after that,more .please im begging you this would be great at bookstores.let me know ok.ps check out my work in the future if you can ,keep writing my friend
 
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PumaPawww said...
Sept. 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm:
So awesome! There were sad elements but all i could feel was happiness! great piece (:
 
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thebushhippie said...
Sept. 18, 2010 at 9:06 am:
Amazing piece! I totally did not see the end coming. Love it, love it, love it! I too hate when teachers make page/word limits on writing assignments. They should be happy that we are eager to write! Anyways, spectacular job. Extrememly creative and original. A true work of art!
 
Funnybunny1337 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 18, 2010 at 2:39 pm :
Thank you so much! :D I truly appreciate it.
 
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madelineLOVES2write said...
Sept. 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm:
Nice, excellent, outstanding!! I did enjoy the ending the most! I feel your pain when you had to cut it                 :( my teacher makes me cut mine all the time(even though they make NO SENSE afterward)!! :'( Way to revise though!     
 
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a.m.f said...
Jun. 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm:
I don't think it's all that rushed.  I like it :)
 
Funnybunny1337 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm :
Why thank you. :) I do appreciate it. ^-^
 
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Funnybunny1337 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm:
Well, It was a class assignment. I set myself up for a 10-12 page paper, but I was allowed a maximum of 5 pages. thus, there were some sacrifices that needed to be made to make the story end on time. I plan to extend and revise it but I haven't done it yet.
 
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xAllegria said...
May 17, 2010 at 5:12 am:
It's a bit too short and predictable after Henri's story. You should include a bit more description. This seems too rushed. THere is too much telling and not showing, we don't get a good enough feel of the story.
 
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mikky said...
May 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm:
omg! i love this! wow the endig was so surprising. i didnt expaect the mime to b her father. this is sooo awsome! pleeeease keep wrighting :0
 
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Muffy said...
May 5, 2010 at 8:46 am:
Wow. I really love this piece. Thanks for sharing with us. Please keep writing!
 
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Ebonykitty said...
May 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm:
I love it, it's amazing. I never would've expected that ending, but it was marvelous!
 
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LightningCloud said...
May 2, 2010 at 9:49 pm:
It suffers the same problem most other stories here have, it being rushed, but that's really about the only problem. I'm thinking maybe a little foreshadowing with Maurice, and a little more description upon Claire receiving the news. It is your story, after all, though. I'm sure you'll make it great.
 
halfasianpersuasion replied...
May 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm :
i agree. it has a good plot but it is a little too rushed. too short. use more detail and let your characters take a break sometime. i have a story i really wish i could submit, but its too long, and i doubt even if i could that anybody would read it. its about 12/15 pages :/
 
Funnybunny1337 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm :
Well, It was a class assignment. I set myself up for a 10-12 page paper, but I was allowed a maximum of 5 pages. thus, there were some sacrifices that needed to be made to make the story end on time. I plan to extend and revise it but I haven't done it yet.
 
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PoAph said...
May 2, 2010 at 8:08 am:

I LOVE THIS!!!!!!

<3

 
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dancer13 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm:
I think you could make this into a novel, if you added more layers and whatnot...making it longer would make it more plausible. For example, I don't think that Henri would so suddenly/willingly go eat dinner with some random stranger who asks him a question. Do you know what i mean?? it's got a LOT of potential, though.
 
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