Silence, by Ellie Benesch
As we sit on the couch, I look out at the gray sky.
It’s almost charcoal, with lighter strokes here and there. I hear the thunder growl, rattling the earth. Lighting sparks across the sky. It looks like a vein in a human body, carrying oxygen laden blood toward the heart. The threat of rain is in the air. It has been for a while. As I look out, I see the sky open up, and water pours from every corner, drenching everything. Puddles quickly form.
It’s a sizzling rain. Coming down so hard, it sounds like a summer barbecue. We’re sitting safely inside. I have my nose pressed to the open screen of my window, and I can smell the rain. I see another flash of lighting stretch across the sky.
I count and listen.
Thunder. Less than a mile away.
It is at times like this–amidst chaos–that I like to sit with Silence.
She's been with me all my life, but it's only been recently that I've really gotten to know and appreciate her. She is becoming a good friend of mine.
I used to hate Silence.
I would avoid her, block her out. I hated her being near. She would keep showing up though, uninvited, unwanted. She would remind me of things I wanted to forget. Of what I hated and what I feared. She constantly brought these up, making my mind overflow, causing me frustration, depriving me of sleep, and peace. I thought this was her purpose.
To cause me pain, restrict me, paralyze me.
I was wrong.
Silence wasn’t there to hurt me or to cause pain. What I saw as constant reminding, she saw as overcoming. Instead of reminding me what I wanted to forget, she helped me process what I had not. Instead of reminding me of my fears, she helped me fight them. When I talked, she would listen. Sometimes it seemed like she’s the only one who would listen. The only one to whom I could say all that I needed.
I began to see why she has been revered by so many others.
In so many cultures and religions, she is held in high esteem, in reverence. She is connected with gods and the afterlife, eternity, elements both outside and inside the human self.
In Hindu philosophy, she is called "mauna," and helps bring about inner peace and rid people of internal chaos. In Taoism, she is a source of strength and knowledge; a key factor in Toa Tee Ching–teaching without saying anything. In the Christianity, she is connected to wisdom and understanding. She allows people to hear the word of the Lord and rest in the wonders of his creation.
As I’ve gotten to know her, I see these in me. All that she has done for me. She has brought me contemplation and clarity. She has allowed for healing after pain. Clam after chaos. She has taught me so much, without saying a word.
When I am with Silence, I find escape. We leave the busy, turbulent world behind, and go somewhere tranquil where we can be. Think. Grieve. Heal.
Silence has become a good friend to me over the past few years. She has helped me through so many hardships, changes, and losses. She has seen every side of me: the ugly side, the petty side, the vulnerable side. Yet, she stayed with me through it all.
It's on days like today that we sit on the couch, watching the sky, that I feel closest to her. Recalling all that she has done for me. We watch the rain, falling lighter now; the puddles jumping as drops hit the ground. The charcoal sky is getting lighter, now an ashy gray. In the distance, we can see a break in the clouds; picturesque, like in a painting hanging in a gallery.
The storm is over.
We’ve made it through another one.
The air smells damp and earthy. I looked it up once. Out of curiosity. That smell is called petrichor. Its origins are Greek, meaning “stone” and “the liquid in the veins of the gods.” That gives an interesting perspective to rain and what it does to the earth. A part of the gods hitting the stone of the earth, bringing life, after the chaos of a storm.
We sit on the couch and watch the sun spread, slowly creeping through the cloud layer.
We sit, just listening to the quiet.
Ellie Benesch is finishing up her degree in English, as well as her studies in creative writing and literature. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her dogs. This is her debut flash fiction publication.
Brooke M. Smith is an Information Services Librarian with the Manatee County Public Library System. She enjoys feeding her artistic side with creating watercolor paintings, pencil drawings of the human form, calligraphy, and nature/wildlife photography. This photo was taken with the Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera with EF-S lens.