Voiceless Statement

DISCLAIMER: “Voiceless Statement” is a work of fiction that I wrote a few years back. It’s not quite a story, really; more of an emotional deliberation than anything else.  However, the subject that this piece deals with was in my thoughts several times today, so I decided to post it here.

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“Hey.  We haven’t talked in a while, huh?”

That’s how I start.  That’s what I say.  My strained words dangle in the cool air like little fishhooks in a caliginous ocean.   It’s a lost cause.  Within moments, these hopeful little words have faded away — a testament to the crippling insufficiency of verbal language.

Of course — as one would expect — there’s no response.  Crematoriums don’t talk back.  But I try, anyway.  I try because in this case, there’s no grave.  No tomb.  Nothing but a newspaper clipping and memories.

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There’s no place quite so dismal as the crematorium where a loved one was once incinerated.  It’s a location that chokes you up in emotion–then immediately stifles that emotion, grabbing you by the throat and shaking it out of you until you forget why you even visited.  I haven’t been here since the funeral.

I’m standing outside the building like, well…like someone who’s afraid to go inside.  I stand there, looking, looking, looking…I look away.  I turn my back.  I shake my head, discouraged.

Again, I have to remind myself that crematoriums don’t talk back.  Of course they don’t talk back.  What am I, stupid?  A charmingly cold New England breeze ripples through me; I zip up my jacket, pretending to be warmer than I am.  I’m exceedingly distraught.  Confused.  Again, I’m utterly unsure of why I even came here.   I walk around for a bit, debating my next action.  After a few minutes, I return to my previous position; despite all of my walking, despite all of my wandering about and debating the possibilities, I still seem to always come back to where I was in the beginning.  A circle isn’t truly a circle if it breaks.

But am I a circle?  Or has the circle been broken?

“Okay, okay,” I say, forcing a smile.  “I’m here.  I’m here, and I’m going to say hello.  Hello.

Hello?  I re-examine the open door of the crematorium.  I meant to bring flowers, but I forgot.  No, that’s a lie.  A complete lie.  I’m pretending to myself that I forgot flowers, flowers which I actually didn’t get because the idea of bringing them felt silly.  Who am I trying to fool?  Myself?

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“I’m sorry.”  I shake my head.  “I don’t know what to say.”

I stare at the building.  It stares back at me.  I childishly dig my foot into the ground, resisting the urge to walk away.  I turn to face the overcast skies above, with another forced smile.

“Nasty weather, huh?” I say, wistfully. “You’d hate it if you could see it.”

My heart yearns to blabber, but my mouth doesn’t want to find the words.  I can’t find the words.

I sit down on the wet grass, crossing my legs.  The water soaks right into my jeans, but it’s too late to fix that; once you’re wet, you’re wet.  You can’t magically become dry.

Childhood seems so far away, so distant, so remote. I spent so many years anticipating the plunge into adulthood that I forgot to hold my breath.  Now it’s just…surreal.  In my mind, I’m secretly still eight years old, you know?  I’m just pulling a big hoax on everybody, anxiously waiting for the moment when everyone finds out I’m really just a little kid wearing an oversized tuxedo.

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That’s what death does to a kid.  It rushes everything.  Death slams you, all at once, with the maturity and strength you normally would’ve developed over many years, at an incomparably harsh price.

I take a deep breath.  I came here to say something, didn’t I?   I came here to make a point.  To spill my guts. It’s time to spill my guts.

“I still miss you.” I say. “And I…I love you.  I love you.”

It’s been over a year — and yet, my tear ducts never seem to quite dry up.  But you know what?  No matter what, I still smile.  I still laugh at the memories.  I still grin at the photo albums.  But I’m not the same person I was before.  I can never be the same person again.

They say that time heals all wounds.  Okay, sure.  Fair enough.  No matter what pain a person experiences, happiness will return.  So yes, the wounds heal.  They do.  They really do.

But whoever created that phrase forgot to mention one part – one very important part.  Even when the wounds finally heal, the scars remain forever.  But you know what?  Maybe…

Maybe that’s okay.

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-Nicholas Conley

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