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The Sound of Silence

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[Breathe Me: Sia, Hold Me Down: Halsey]

 

“What do you remember?”

 

“I remember the hospital, the doctors; I remember a ringing in my ears.”

 

“Do you recall what happened?”

 

“I couldn’t catch my breath or something. I don’t know. It’s all a fuzzy blur now.”

 

“You didn’t have any vitals. You died. The ringing in your ears was the heart monitor as you flat lined. Your heart stopped.”

 

“I remember now.”

 

“You were declared dead for five minutes, and yet you show no emotion.”

 

“I don’t care. People die every day. What makes me any different?”

 

“You’re a miracle! You came back.”

 

“A miracle?”

 

“Are you not one? Was this not a miracle or an act of some God? Aren’t you happy to have been given a second chance?”

 

“No. I’m… dissatisfied with my life now. Nothing has any meaning. Everything I used to love makes me feel nothing. I can’t find joy in anything.”

 

«ȺɃ»

 

                Shrill beeping pooled my senses driving me to bolt awake in a panic. My heart drummed in my chest against my ribcage and my hands curled into fists in my hair. I slowly eased my grip and swallowed, my mind finally coming to the conclusion that it was only my alarm going off, which I promptly stopped by throwing it into a wall, and not a heart monitor. I fell back into my bed and covered my face with my hands, slowing breathing in attempt to sooth my heart. When I finally relaxed my hands found their way to the red base of my curled ram horns, grazing over them slightly and following all the way from the orange middle section to the sharp yellow tips. I poked at them with my fingers for a moment before finally deciding to make an effort to get up.

                I sat idly on the edge of my bed, my feet dangling over the floor and grazing it barley with my toes. I let out a shuddery breath and rose from my bed, walking to look into a mirror over my bathroom sink.

 

AA: “Help, I have done it again.

I have been here so many times before.”

 

                I pulled my eyes from the mirror and walked to the window in my bedroom that looked down upon the street in front of the old firehouse where I lived.

 

AA: “Hurt myself again today.

And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame.”

 

                I turned my back to the window and leaned against it, my eyes closing sadly.

 

AA: “Be my friend.”

 

                I opened my eyes slightly and wrapped my hands around my torso, hugging myself gently.

 

AA: “Hold me, wrap me up.”

 

                My hands fell away from my body as I turned slightly, pressing my right temple against the glass and my breath fogging it with breathy clouds as I sang.

 

AA: “Unfold me.

I am small and needy.”

 

                I slid down until I sat on the floor, my right side pressed against the wall and my arms wrapped themselves around my knees.

 

AA: “Warm me up.

And breathe me…”

 

                I wiped my eyes and gazed around my room before making a decision to  get dressed and try to trudge through the already painfully long day. I rose from the floor and shuffled around my room rummaging through my drawers until I found a clean black bralette, a black and white gingham circle skirt, and a sheer red sweater that was too big on me and hung off my gaunt features. I pulled on a pair of supposedly clean thigh high black socks and some black leather ankle boots. I shrugged on my bag and dumped my phone, my headphones, my keys, and my journal into it before flipping it closed.

                I lugged my “Fundamentals of Music” textbook into my arms and began leaving. I clambered down the stairs and out the front door, locking the door before taking the walk to my workplace which doubled as my place. I stood on the sidewalk, my head turning either way before heading down the street with a dejected sigh.

 

AA: “Ouch. I have lost myself again.

Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found.

Yeah, I think I might break.

Lost myself again and feel unsafe.”

 

                I entered the lobby of the nice hotel where I worked part time. I shuffled through the entrance flashing the receptionist and security my badge. I silently descended the stairs to the basement when I stopped in my tracks, gazing up at the light that casted through the window a few sets of stairs above me.

 

AA: “Be my friend.

Hold me, wrap me up.”

 

                I pulled my gaze away and continued my slow trek down the stairs.

 

AA: “Unfold me.

I am small and needy.”

 

                I walked down a hall lit by fluorescent lights until I reached the locker room where I changed into my uniform. I stripped down and pulled on the short sleeved white button up, the matching royal blue pencil skirt and vest, my black bow under my collar, and the stupid pantyhose that’s required to be worn by all the women working as housekeeping supervisors. I leaned against the wall as I put on my Mary Jane heels, cursing as I wobbled on one foot. When I finished I stood before a mirror turning each way to examine myself. I paused to pull my hair back into a professional bun, my eyes losing themselves in the reflection.

 

AA: “Warm me up.

And breathe me…”

 

                I took an unsteady breath and turned away. I clipped my ID badge to my vest and exited the room, my pager going off. I took off into a run down the hall and to the closest dumbwaiter. I shoved myself inside and forced a smile at the person operating it before pulling the doors shut and knocking against the door twice. With a slight lurch I was lifted up quickly to the main floor. When it settled to a stop I parted the doors and slid out, dusting off my skirt and straightening my collar. I walked pointedly to the main elevators and pushed the button of my floor, letting the doors close and the confining metal box carry me to the floor I was requested on. I looked at my reflection and tilted my head slightly. I looked a little something like my older sister and my heart tugged in my chest. I looked down at my feet making myself forget I ever had that thought.

 

                Room 125, I was asked to wipe off lipstick stains across the mirror on the bathroom wall over the sink, all of them were different colors and sizes. A stamp that a group of friends were together having fun. My fingertips grazed at the stains before wiping them away.

 

AA: “Be my friend.”

 

                Room 221, I made a messy bed and put new pillow cases on the pillows. I cleaned the windows and left the drapes open so there could be sunlight in the room before collapsing on the bed and pulling a throw pillow into my arms.

 

AA: “Hold me.”

 

                Room 330, I packed up a woman’s clothes for dry cleaning before a big date. I held a few dresses up in front of a mirror to see what they look like, twirling in them halfheartedly..

 

AA: “Wrap me up.”

 

                Room 410,  I delivered a vase of beautiful and expensive flowers to a nice girl who was staying in her room alone, I could see her heart break as she took them from my hands. The envelope buried in the petals read “Condolences.”

 

AA: “Unfold me.”

 

                Room 515, I led a lost kid back to his room when he got turned around in the stairwell. We stopped briefly at the kitchen to get him a treat before returning him to his frightened parents. They hugged me quite ecstatically for my “act of kindness.”

 

AA: “I am small and needy.”

 

                At the end of my shift I stood on the roof overlooking the city.  I climbed up on the ledge and sat down, dangling my feet over the street thousands of feet below me without fear.

 

AA: “Warm me up.

And breathe me.”

 

                I inhaled the fresh air in silence enjoying the cloudy day until my phone began buzzing in the inside pocket of my vest. I fished it out and cursed at myself for leaving it on before picking it up because Dave was calling.

 

“I just finished my shift, why are you bothering me?” I asked sliding back onto the roof carefully.

 

“I can see you from down here. Listen, the hangout is closing early, you in?” He asked, I looked over the edge and smirked down at the street knowing Dave was trolling outside the hotel.

 

“You know I’m in.” I hung up and tucked my phone away before racing back down to the top floor and into the elevator.

 

                I bounced excitedly on my heels knowing I was heading to our hangout. When the doors opened I raced to the stairs and slide down the rails as fast as I could without getting hurt. I dashed into the changing room, kicking off my heels and trying to change as fast as trolly possible so I could make it to the hangout before it closed. I grabbed my bag and text book and raced back upstairs taking them two at a time before bursting from the revolving doors to meet Dave.

                We turned and took off down the street a fast was we could, pushing through crowds and taking short cuts through stores and down alleyways. Our feet slammed against the ground matching the sound out our racing hearts as we darted around the corner in front of the bookstore. We excitedly approached the door and opened it, jingling the bell inside. We walked through the store, squeezing between shelves and breathing heavily from our run. Plopping down at the table where the rest of our friends were sitting in the back of the book store, I opened my journal and “Fundamentals of Music” textbook and tried to sew together a song, but no ideas came. Rose Lalonde slid into the seat across from mine, her violin case placed on the table top next to her girlfriend Kanaya’s flute case. I waved halfheartedly before burying my nose back into my work.

                An hour passed before I tossed the cover of my book shut and slid it off the table in anger. I pressed my face into my hands and sighed heavily. The group had moved onto the floor tuning their instruments and practicing vocalizing and harmonies together between fits of laughter. I slide from my chair onto the carpet and flipped through my journal looking for a song to pick for tonight’s set. I felt a hand tap my shoulder and I looked up to see Feferi grinning down at me.

 

“Guess what?” She giggled.

 

I sighed heavily and closed my journal. “What, Feferi?”

 

She beamed brightly. “I have a duet tonight and I want you to do it with me!”

 

“Is this you asking me or telling me?” I asked.

 

She stammered for a moment, her face slowly turning hot pink. “JUST SING WITH ME!”

 

I looked up at her with fake surprise and I could hear everyone stop what they were doing to stare, listen, or both.

 

“You’re a bitch.” She said glaring at me.

 

I shrugged. “You caught me.”

 

She leaned down and grabbed my arm. “Do the duet with me or I will steal all your sets you filthy rust blood.” She hissed into my ear.

 

I forced a fake smile. “Of course, I’d be happy to duet with you.” Lie.

 

                It was a big, fat, blatant lie. I didn’t agree to the duet because I wanted to, I had to. Music was the last thing I had after I died. I needed it and she dared to take that. This “filthy rust blood” is planning to show her up. I was going to teach that privileged pink blood a lesson.

 

“Wonderful! Now I’ve picked a song-“

 

“I’m picking the song.” I cut off Feferi. “I. Am. Picking. The. Song.” I glared at her as she turned her back and disappeared behind a bookshelf.

 

                When I turned back to the group they were all staring at me.

 

“What?” I asked scathingly.

 

                I opened my journal again and immersed myself into it in hopes everyone would forget this happened. After a few more minutes customers began to file out and it was only our mishmash of a group left sitting in the back of the book store. The owner of the store was our friend the Parcel Mistress. She was nice, usually quiet; she sported various pastel outfits that reminded me of Lolita fashion in a sense. Her short white hair was always neatly styled under a hat and she had smile lines forming around her eyes prematurely. I think, in my opinion, she is the mother figure our group looks towards. Parcel Mistress lifted her keys and jingled them for us signaling she was heading home. We all waved and exchanged wishes of safe travel before she walked and left us by ourselves.

                We gathered our instruments and headed towards the archway in the back of the store, the neon sign flickered on shining “Open” all the way to the windows in the front of the store. We clambered upstairs, clasping the velvet rope across the entry way and setting our gear down to set up for tonight’s set. A couple of us praised the Strider brothers on the progress of the record store. They bought the space upstairs for a music store and every night after closing we host a live jam session. I unpacked the mics and checked the soundboard for Dave. He glanced over my shoulder and adjusted the bass slightly so it was up higher before turning back to the wires he was plugging into the many speakers we had.

 

“You are starting tonight. You know that right?”

 

I stiffened. “It’s been a while...”

 

“Do you want me to cover for you?” He asked turning to me and leaning against the table.

 

“No. I can do it.” I hissed stepping back from the sound board. “You should check that though. Might be wrong since I’m not capable of anything.” I snapped turning away and blocking out Dave’s voice as he called after me.

 

                I looked out the window to see a line of people out onto the street waiting for us to open. I closed my eyes and whispered a silent string of curses. I straightened up and turned back to everyone with a smile spreading across my face.

 

“We got a full house tonight! Let’s get kicking! Dave, unleash the crowd!”

 

                I ran towards the stage and leapt up onto it, grabbing a mic from Dirk and turning it on. I ran a quick mic check getting quick thumbs up from Dave as the crowd began to file in, filling the space to capacity. I inhale a shaky breath and fastened my mic in the mic stand. This was it. My solo would kick off this night and god knows what would happen if I fucked it up. Little did I know that this solo would set off a domino effect in my life as well.

 

“Welcome everyone! We have a great show planned for you tonight!” Dave snuck into the sound booth and was speaking over another mic.” On the count of three I want to hear you say “Let’s go!” One… two… three!”

 

The crowd cheered “let’s go” and the lights rose on me. A warm amber wash flooded the stage and heated my skin ever so slightly. The track Dave collaborated and composed with me began to fill the room. I took a breath and grinned as I began to sing the song I worked so hard on.

 

AA: “My demons are begging me to open up my mouth.

I need them mechanically make the words come out.

They fight me, vigorous and angry, watch them pounce.

Ignite me, licking at the flames they bring about.

  I sold my soul to a three piece.”

 

I put my hands together as if I was praying.

 

AA: “And he told me I was holy.”

 

I took my mic out of the stand and sunk to my knees.

 

AA: “He’s got me down on both knees.”

 

I slowly rose again, my head lifting in a defiant way.

 

AA: “But it’s the devil that’s tryna

Hold me down, hold me down.

Sneaking out the backdoor make no sound.

Knock me out, knock me out.

Saying that I want more, this is what I live for.

Hold me down, hold me down.

Throw me in the deep end watch me drown.

Knock me out, knock me out.

Saying that I want more this is what I live for.”

 

I put the mic back on the stand and ran a hand through my hair.

 

AA: “Selfish, taking what I want and call it mine.

I’m helpless, clinging to a little bit of spine.

They rush me, telling me I’m running out of time.

They shush me, shhh, walking me across a fragile line.”

 

My hand pressed against my heart before drawing away, my fingers forming the number three.

 

AA: “I sold my soul to a three piece.”

 

I spread my arms as if on a cross.

 

AA: “And he told me I was holy.”

 

I drew my arms back in and took the mic from the grasp of its stand before kneeling on the edge of the stage, reaching out to the crowd.

 

AA: “He’s got me down on both knees.

But it’s the devil that’s tryna...”

 

I shot back up, standing tall and stalking across the stage with fire in my words.

 

AA: “Hold me down, hold me down.

Sneaking out the backdoor make no sound.

Knock me out, knock me out.

Saying that I want more, this is what I live for.

Hold me down, hold me down.

Throw me in the deep end watch me drown.

Knock me out, knock me out.

Saying that I want more this is what I live for.”

 

I froze and looked up at the ceiling, as if there was something there the crowd couldn’t see.

 

AA: “Hold me down now.

Hold me down now.

Hold me down.”

 

I looked out across the crowd wistfully.

 

AA: “I sold my soul to a three piece.

And he told me I was holy.

He’s got me down on both knees.

But it’s the devil that’s tryna…”

 

I jumped down into the crowd, the ocean of people parting for me as I walked to the center and belted out every note.

 

AA: “Hold me down, hold me down.

Sneaking out the backdoor make no sound.

Knock me out, knock me out.

Saying that I want more, this is what I live for.

Hold me down, hold me down.

Throw me in the deep end watch me drown.

Knock me out, knock me out.

Saying that I want more this is what I live for.”

 

I raised my hands over my head and tossed my head back with a smile knowing I did well and the crowd’s energy was perfect. Everyone cheered as I walked back up to the stage and took a bow graciously. I could feel Feferi’s eyes on me from off stage left boring into my back but I didn’t bother to care. I fucking crushed it. I stepped off stage and began to prepare for my duet with Feferi. There was some anger bubbling in my chest as I handed my mic off to Rose and Kanaya as they took the stage together. I walked out into the crowd and to the back to get a drink, sipping at it bitterly.

Dave came up behind me and glanced at me with what I think was pity but with his glasses on I couldn’t really tell.

 

"Still pissed about the duet?" He asked.

 

“Save it Strider.” I hissed over the rim of my cup.

 

He shrugged. “Maybe you’ll get a miracle or some ironic shit like that.”

 

I scoffed. “Yeah right. Fuck that. Miracles only happen in movies.”

 

“Cliché movies.” He pointed out.

 

“Yeah? Then fuck that twice. I’m not about that fairytale bullshit.” I threw away my cup and began walking away.

 

“I need to get ready. Just don’t fuck this up for me Dave or I swear to god-“

 

He raised his hands in defeat. “I hear you loud and clear.”

 

                I nodded and disappeared into the dense crowd. I didn’t see, however, the girl with emerald green eyes and raven black hair with white dogs ears and a tail watching and listening from a distance. The cogs in her brain were turning with a dangerous plan. No. I didn’t see her at all.