Haunted by Silence

(an original short story by Danielle)

It’s been this way for as long as he can remember.  

At home, when he arrives, he is absent and unavailable.  He steps in, removes his boots, covered in “dried” tar and drops them in the middle of the front entry.  

On good days, he hangs his keys on the holder at the door where they belong so he can find them when he needs them.  On bad, he lays them wherever he happens to wander without conscious thought for what he is doing.  It haunts the house when he can’t find them. 

He drifts into the kitchen and drops whatever is in his right hand on the counter or table.  This usually includes a pile of loose papers, sometimes the post, a lunchbox that never carries a lunch.  Occasionally, there is a dirty dish from the long lost lunch of a month gone by.  He doesn’t rinse the mold from those dishes, just deposits them in the sink.   

He opens the mail at the counter, scattering paperwork and detritus.  Empty envelopes, junk mail and other recyclables will remain on the table long after his shadow has gone.  

He grunts a gruff hello to anyone on the main level. He lays into whomever has perpetrated whatever transgression he has noticed since walking in the door.  But even his angst is unheard.

His eyes are vacant as he wanders to the front room to drop whatever is in his left hand on the floor, the couch, or the already overcrowded desk top.

 He doesn’t notice these things as he moves.  He doesn’t even notice the colour of the walls.

He continues up to the bedroom, where he may undress immediately, or wait 5 minutes to play on his phone; either way, all that tar-sweat-dirt covered clothing ends up in a pile on the carpet.  This pile is usually in the walkway into the bedroom, but random piles have appeared near the closet.  Sometimes, they are even “recycled” into the clean clothing for wear another time.

If he talks, I’ts complaints about the day or the colleagues or the collection caller.  He never inquires about them.  If they speak, it is met with distracted “oh yeah”, “uh huh” and an assortment of grunting noises.

 He heads into the bathroom to have a smoke, where he sits on a stool, playing on his phone, with the ghost of a frown on his face.  No one speaks, because it’s better to give him time when he gets home, but sometimes, that’s the wrong approach.  

 When his smoke is done, he moves out of the bathroom to lay prone on the bed…playing on his phone.  More often lately he turns his clock radio on.  The volume is deafening, removing the opportunity for any significant interaction. He will stay this way until dinner is ready or brought up to him.

 He stays here, like a silent phantom, until he must come out to hug and kiss them, bid them good night and blow a kiss.  He then returns to the same lifeless position until going to sleep.

They do not text each other throughout the day unless it is to provide information:  “call so-and-so”, “insurance comes out today”, or to ask for parental support:  “can you pick up girl/boy pls?”.

 They do not call each other throughout the day.  They feel no need or desire to do so. 

 They barely speak.  They do not touch.  Not even by accident.

It’s been this way for as long as he can remember.

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7 thoughts on “Haunted by Silence”

    1. (blushing) Thank you so much! I usually write poetry; short stories are new for me. This was hard to post because I was worried it wasn’t “good enough” – what others might say/think (I know I shouldn’t). I’m so grateful yours, full of praise, is among the first.

      1. My suggestion is to keep writing what you feel at the moment. This was a great piece and I have read through your site to many other good pieces. I am looking forward to what journey you take us in the future.
        -jb

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