The silence

The sorrowful howling begins as I’m making Braden’s bed. I can see the street through a gap in the curtains. Two girls spread on the opposite footpath. I’m wondering whether to call an ambulance when one raises her head and curses, half to the other and half to the world. The second girl takes her head in her hands. There’s been no accident. No injury that can be stitched together. No pain that can be dulled.

I’ve seen them around the flats. Early twenties perhaps. I’ve seen them arm in arm. Happy together. But something has changed completely.

As the chorus of lamentation swells I find myself wondering about their passion—thinking I could never know anything like it. To be so completely overcome. To not care about the world at all—the hard concrete, the schoolchildren steering a wide circle around them.

But I could. I know about trust. I recall the things my father said before he left. How angry I was with Mum for not fighting back. And neither of us shedding a tear. Locked instead in silence.

Thirty-year-old tears begin to fall. They roll like rain down slack cheeks. I don’t even notice Braden coming in. ‘Mum,’ he says, ‘It’s late. You have to sign my excursion form.’