The Silence Between Us

December 5, 2011
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I sat beside my love upon the hill. For many hours I had debated on what I would say to her at this moment, but it seemed that no amount of preparation could save me from my shyness. We had known one another for many years, sharing countless memories of our time together. I found it slightly ironic that even after all this time I still could not manage even a simple pleasantry or two. But I knew she did not care whether I was talkative or not; she had always told me that my company alone was worth far more than any number of words. Silence between the two of us was never awkward or uncommon for that matter.
Today, however, I felt the desire to speak, to tell her of things I had not told her in many a year. I mustered up my courage and tried to sound as casual as I could hope to be. “It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Since we were here together, I mean.”
She didn’t reply, but I hadn’t expected her to. I figured that I’d be doing most of the talking today. But even with my timid nature, I didn’t particularly mind that. In front of her, I was far more likely to be myself than with any other person. I never had to fear rebuke or ridicule in her company.
“I’ve got something to tell you; I still get scared at night sometimes. The darkness frightens me. But I thought you should know that you make the fear go away. Only you can do that.”
She was silent once more. Honestly, I felt more relaxed that way. Knowing that she was listening was more than enough for me. I had many more things to say, and it soothed me to know I could always rely upon her to hear my words.
“I think I’m going to take up painting if that’s alright with you. I’ve always wanted to know what you’d look like on a canvas. I think it’s about time someone took on the job.”
I smiled slightly after the words left my mouth. We had often joked about how if someone were to paint her, the Mona Lisa would bow her head in defeat. While she had always considered it nothing more than a whimsical jest, I secretly believed that she would indeed put Da Vinci’s maiden to shame.
I decided to continue speaking. “Remember the night I proposed to you? Remember how I accidentally forgot to put your ring in the box? You told me that it almost worked out better that way, without a ring. You accepted me even without diamonds and gold.”
I whispered the last sentence more to myself than to her. I was glad I could ramble on about the past without so much as an odd look or gentle chiding. She was never the type to tell me that I had spoken enough. That was part of why I loved her; she listened to the things no one else would listen to.
Part of me longed for her to recall the times past with me, to remind me of the details I’d forgotten amongst the dusty file cabinets of my memories. But I told myself that her listening was consoling enough.
I let the silence between us stretch out for some time, losing myself in private thoughts. When I could bear lying to myself no longer, I spoke the words I had so yearned to say.
“I miss you, Ellen. I miss waking up to you beside me. I miss the long days we once spent on the front porch, watching the blue jays dance about in the air. I want more than anything to hear your voice once more. Just once more.”
I broke down upon the grassy hill, the breeze seeming to echo my sobs. I cried for that which I had lost and for that which I could never reclaim. My tears rolled down my cheeks in great streams of raw emotion, landing upon the blades of grass below. Eventually, my sobs subsided to shudders and my tears to moist, red eyes.
“I think it’s time I left for the day, Ellen,” I said in hoarse voice layered with unspoken feelings. I rose to my feet, my old bones creaking as steadied myself with my waking stick. I stared down at my wife’s tombstone with somber eyes. She would always be right there, ready to listen at any time.
“Don’t worry,” I told her softly. “I’ll make sure to be back soon.”

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Alexa19 said...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm
Wow that was really great! You're a very talented writer! Great ending!
WordsRUs This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm
Thank you. It's really encouraging to hear positive feedback like this! I just wish I'd remembered to double space between paragraphs.
Alexa19 replied...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm
Haha that's alright it looks fine!
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