Silences

4 03 2013

Mondays, especially the morning parts of Mondays, have become our nets for catching silences. They’re far from empty, full instead of the tiny sounds that define a lack of sounds in the modern world: the periodic, quiet kick-then-hum of the heater, the hushed peeling-tape sounds of wet car tires going by on the street outside, the occasional high-pitched groan of a school bus’s brakes on the hill, muted by the closed windows, storm windows, and plastic sheeting of the season. My breath, her breath, the soft mouth-sounds of her suckling, the steady minuscule ticking of a watch on the dresser, the almost imperceptible voice of a crow a few backyards away, and a sigh as the cat at the foot of the bed stretches in her sleep.

I miss the few but beloved voices of our weekend life; I miss a hundred voices of the family and friends we rarely see; I miss the thousand voices of strangers whose music I used to flood the spaces with to compensate for the laughter and complaints of the tribe that time has taken, but Evanny needs the silences. Weekends, with Daddy’s large and loving presence, Caleb’s constant chatter and endless antics, the dog’s bark and growl and skittering of nails across the floor as she tears off in pursuit of one or another of the cats–even when we don’t go anywhere or have any visitors, these things fill up the house and the hours until there’s no time to eat or catch up on breathing, and while exhaustion usually enforces a nap or two, by Monday she’s starving for both calories and a sustained silence in which to consume them. She’ll spend some time with the sitter soon–Mummy’s got papers to grade–and they’ll turn the stereo on, bounce to some voices, practice a few syllables, play with some bright-coloured toys, and then collapse into a nap, and then in the afternoon we’ll probably be back here, sleep-nursing, suck, doze, swallow, while my thumb rests in her warm, limp hand, and she steeps herself in silence, recovering from the weekly tidal wave of movement and interaction and sound and sensation that leave her basically hung over from an overdose of joy.

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