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The Silent Lie
Sometimes it’s the silence that’s the most painful.
The line goes blank, and I can’t help but think, ‘god, I wish I could have broken it.”
If only there were things I could have said, if only the words that I mouthed, the ones I meant to say, could have appeared whole and full, in front of him and I, uniting us with their common appeal. If only the words I did speak didn’t bend, didn’t brake and rearrange themselves while crossing through his mind.
I blame his silence. When that all-encompassing nothingness is set, it’s hard to crack.
And now I am left to pick up the phone, fingers darting from button to button; tracing, etching out the not only the numbers, but his face and voice; his cynical smile, his quick temper, his fierce sense of justice, his angry, angry eyes; everything I knew and loved about him. This is what scares me; or rather, its the lack of all this that is so terrifying. It’s the fear of silence that drive my fingers to only touch, lightly as the race about the phone, never hold, never press. Although I do grasp it, even now, clinging to the fantasy that I will press, and hold, and he will answer.
Of course, when I mold the phone to my face, I hear only silence, and it’s that silence that breaks me.
“William?” I whisper. I say little directed to the void of the receiver, but even now I feel the unspoken words rush out. The anger, and want, and fear cannot be contained; they spill, they drip into my everyday life; they make everyday actions like dialing a number suddenly painful.
I can tell, as my fingers begin to drag before they hit the green ‘CALL’ button, stalling suggestively, that I can’t make myself do it; not today, perhaps not again. I sigh, and put down the phone.
Of course, some part of me can be wholly detached. Some part of me can look at things from outside of my own body; can see how it’s better this way.
Some part of me can say, “That boy’s going somewhere.”
And some part of me cannot, because today he called and said nothing. Today his silence was enough. Today even the past couldn’t unite our future.
I screamed, “How could you leave me behind?”
And he said nothing.
I whispered, between sobs, “Why did you go?”
And he said nothing.
I spoke, calmly, “Young man, don’t think you’re welcome at home anymore.”
And he said nothing.
And the other part, the living, breathing, feeling part of me screams, “That’s not my boy.”’
Who is this stranger, who calls just to listen to me scream, and sob, who leaves me wondering, and wanting? It’s certainly not my son.
I taught him about family. I taught him about loyalty and honor; I taught him about the right, and the wrong. I taught him to deal with emptiness and hollowness and desperation of life, and poverty. I taught him to cope with our life, while I coped with him, even when he couldn’t cope with himself. And yet he left, as soon as he got the chance, he ran.
But perhaps the saddest is that I meant none of it.
“How could you leave me behind?” I screamed; I meant, “I miss you.”
“Why did you go?” I whispered, between sobs; I meant, “I love you.”
“Young man, don’t think you’re welcome at home anymore,” I spoke, calmly; I meant, “Son, please come home.”
You see, I never was one to tell the truth. I preached to him the joys of success; but once he was successful, himself, I only wanted him to come back home. And perhaps I taught him to be disloyal when I admonished and criticized him for living what had once been our dream—for him to become something more than me.
Perhaps he betrayed me only after I betrayed him; perhaps I taught him to leave.