I was 8 then when I was told to be silent by my teacher. I can’t remember what I was saying exactly then, but I know I was defending my side as this bully classmate of mine told everyone that I was the one who threw the stone that broke Ms. Cassandra’s window in her office. Unfortunately, for me, everyone believed him. Probably because everyone knew that Matthew, is bully but not a liar. Apparently, this time he lied. I would have done the same too if I was in his shoes, to not put the weight on me, especially that the weight is as heavy as knowing that Ms. Cassandra is badly injured.
I was about to cry then when the whole class, though at the time I felt like it was the whole world, was starting to get on me. It was also when Ms. Lucy told me to be silent. She actually said it to nobody in particular, to the whole class probably. But due to my guilt over something I can’t exactly tell, I felt like she was pointing at me the most.
So I stopped and everyone too. Then she sat on her chair and smiled. I was stunned by her actions nonetheless by her smile. Nobody moved, Matthew and I remained standing, and the rest, as I saw on my peripheral view, was somehow half seated, some were leaning on their desk, some were awkwardly stopped, yet nobody dared moved move.
The smile left Ms. Lucy’s face but the glow of it remained. Ms. Lucy made a deep sigh and after that told us to return to our seats. When everyone is ready to listen to her, she asked one question.
“What is it that you kill every time you say his name?”
At first there was nothing. Then murmurs grow and slowly turned to noise. Until one hand was raised. It was Albert, the class genius.
“Promise.” Albert said with very much certainty in his voice.
“Why do you think so?” Ms. Lucy asked smiling.
“Because every time we say a promise, we kill it at the same time, because a promise is something you make to break. Like petting a fish half out of water.”
“Interesting, but I’m looking for something more perceivable.” Ms. Lucy said.
“Perceivable?” Albert was still standing.
“Something that can be observed by our senses, Ms. Lucy answered back and finally Albert sat down.
It was supposed to be our Math, but honestly I prefer thinking this kind of problem than doing math, though Ms. Lucy will argue that with math we have a definite answer to all the problems.
Nobody raised a hand after Albert, so after Ms. Lucy asked who wants to try and nobody raised a hand, she stood up and started writing a math problem. And that was when Katelyn raised her hand.
“Yes Katelyn?” Said Ms. Lucy as she continues to write on the board.
“A boogeyman?” She stopped writing.
“Yes.” In her usual high pitch voice, with certainty of course though not the same as Albert’s certainty.
“Becuase,” Katelyn continued after Ms. Lucy said nothing, “boogeyman is supposed to be scary and saying his name takes courage, so definitely we are killing him with our courage by saying his name.”
“How old are you guys? Thinking things like that.” The smile was back on Ms. Lucy’s face, she returned to her seat and continued talking. “Well then, I’ll tell you what. He’s present all the time, it’s just that mostly he’s not recognized. Sometimes he is the answer. Sometimes he can be heard, there are even times he is deafening, sometimes too he can be seen though right now you can’t understand it yet but remember that as words do, sometimes he is a killer, and seeing him is the first sign that he is about to kill.”
Everyone was listening intently to her as she said the last word. “Silence.” And joining with everyone she fell for it.
It was Marco who talked first. The healthiest in class, as Ms. Lucy does not permit the use of fat to describing him. “Silence,” he said. And then somebody backed him up, saying “Yeah, Marco killed silence.” And that made everyone laughing. The bell rang after that.
Ms. Lucy then called Matthew and I to stay. And she told us how he knew it was Matthew all along, she knew it by listening. She asked Matthew then to apologize to Ms. Cassandra when she returns, and she asked Matthew to promise not to point his finger again to anyone, not the promise Albert was talking about but a promise he won’t kill. And he promised. And as for me, she told me to learn how to be silent at times, because some times my own words bounce back at me.
Now, almost two decades after, I am currently working as a researcher on a network, and owns a bar that I personally manage, and is open every Thursday to Saturdays. And every time I am in the bar, I can see it, the silence in almost everyone. Although they keep talking, telling their recent journeys, or their work, I can see they are silenced inside. They are as silent as the night in the middle of the dessert.
Finally, I think I can understand what Ms. Lucy had told us, about seeing silence, about how it is needed to be killed before it kills its prey, because I’ve seen it kill. The problem is, we were never told how to kill it. I tried to take it away if not kill it, but then its owner slowly dies as I took it out of their lives. So then I decided nobody could kill it other than its owner.
As for me I just hope that silence will not kill me, because most of the time people observe other people and eventually they forget themselves.