The howling begins as I’m making Braden’s bed. Through a gap in the curtains I see two girls spread on the opposite footpath. As I’m wondering whether to call an ambulance 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. Their injuries can’t simply be stitched to heal. Their pain cannot 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, and changed completely.

As the chorus of lamentation swells I find myself wondering if I could 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 recall the things my father said before he left. How angry I was with Mum for not fighting back. And neither of us wanting to show our hurt. Locked instead in silence.

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

 

(this is an edited version of the story Silence, published on this day, 2010. See about small stories about love)

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