Friday, September 21, 2012

"The Silent Spaces" by R.G Rankine (Novelette)

Genre:  Psychological Drama

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  Addison had wanted to get away from everything and everyone for a long time. He had planned his escape from the world and thought he would be happy. He was happy. For a while. But once he had made real his plan; once he had withdrawn from the world, he didn't understand why he could not settle. Why did his mind start thinking this way? Was he really alone? What was it he actually wanted? Addison found it was time to confront his dreams; did he really understand the choice he had made?


There was silence, for the first time he could ever recall, real silence. Addison was not sure how long he had been sitting in the silence or what time of day the silence had started; he had destroyed all of the clocks. After his first day in the new house the ticking and chiming felt like hands gripping tight around his neck, every pulse of time was the pulse of his blood screaming for release. So he simply destroyed them and thought no more about time. He felt better for it, a calming of his nerves, he could breath without worrying about his neck being squeezed and soon enough only darkness and sunlight remained of time. Addison stopped by the front room window to take in the silence; standing there he smiled at his success. This was his prize, the reward he had worked so hard for. Addison had always wanted silence but felt it was impossible, he believed there was no town, city or populated square mile in this world that could give him silence. But he had found one place. Standing there he congratulated himself, silently, so as not to disturb the peace. But then he felt like saying aloud, “Well done Addison. Congratulations Addison.” It was okay if he made a noise he thought, this was why he had come here, to be himself, if he made a noise that no one else could hear then he was not upsetting the peace just making his own type of peace. The words hung in the air for a period of time then disappeared, and he felt perhaps that was enough for now and spoke no more. The smile stayed however. Addison enjoyed this smile, maybe his first honest smile as an adult; of course he knew he must have smiled as a child, but he just couldn’t remember, this smile meant something, his body reacted to the smile and his hands and feet and back joined in the smile and his lungs and stomach and heart joined in the smile and he felt wonderful.

Addison slowly strolled around his new front room, hovering one bare foot over the floor for a few seconds before sweeping it down and feeling the pleasure of the soft brush of his new carpet against his skin; then momentarily hovering the other bare foot and sweeping it across. He wasn’t thinking of time, he wasn’t allowing any thoughts of how long he was taking enter his mind, he just carried on strolling around the room enjoying the feeling of aloneness, and when eventually he tired of raising and lowering his legs, which may have been minutes, may have been hours, he stopped still and surveyed the room one more time. He had yet to decorate or to arrange the scant furniture to his liking, but why hurry he thought; he had no deadlines, no alarm clock that would strike his body like the onset of a heart attack gripping every nerve and muscle like a merciless vice. He could move his things around when the moment came, that moment could be now or it could be then, he didn’t care and he didn’t allow the thought of caring to enter his mind.

As he stood still, drifting his gaze across the blank walls, he thought about how when the next morning came he would have to go outside for the first time since moving in. The thought didn’t worry him, it was just part of the process, he had set things up a long time before he moved here and was confident his arrangements would work. Addison was actually looking forward to it. As arranged with a company that he had already forgotten the details of, a large parcel of food and general supplies would be delivered to a secure spot on his new land; far enough away so that the van would not be heard, even in the most silent of silent nights, but near enough that he could walk there easily without risking encountering anyone. The parcel would contain enough bottles of water, tins of fruit and healthy foods for what he considered a long enough period of time and he would then walk out and get the next one when needed. Addison hadn’t marked out the dates the deliveries would arrive as he had destroyed his calendar and his diary many mornings ago. He would simply go when the current provisions had gone, by which time the next parcel would be there; his one concern would be that he would start to walk to the parcel while the van was still there, he would be forced to listen to the sounds of tyres screeching and the rattling exhaust coughing up like a sea of old sick men. He would be forced back into a world of noise and chaos and he dreaded having to endure the drone of the engine as it disappeared from view. Addison was quite convinced this wouldn’t happen, he had purposefully and expensively arranged for the deliveries to happen at a time in the darkness, a time that he would never have any reason to go out in; there would never be a reason to hear the sound of machinery again.

Addison thought about his first walk outside and brightened. He danced around at the thought of a silent walk in the outdoors. He dipped his head, closed his eyes and scoured his memory for any time in his life when he had been outdoors in silence and came up with nothing. He thought of his old park, the walk along the motorway where the birds would sing alongside the constant hidden roar of car engines, and the eventual seclusion of his favourite spot under the horse chestnut tree. It was beautiful; trees and grass as far as he could see and even though he knew there were buildings just out of view, he could get them out of his mind because he couldn’t see them. The noise never left though. Addison raised his head again as the sound of the gentle thunder of a thousand far away cars flooded back to him. He quickly opened his eyes and involuntarily breathed out, “No.” Addison was talking to himself giving himself the answer to his question, no; he had never been outside in silence. Shutting out the noise of the imaginary traffic he forced himself to resume the expectation of a silent stroll in his new land. He felt his excitement return and the grin that had hardly left him in his new home strengthened. Addison realised that there was no reason he couldn’t just walk outside now and experience what he so desired, but controlled, he silently answered himself that because there was no reason, that was reason for him not to go, and he had had enough of feeling compelled to do things because they were there to be done; so he stopped and told himself to behave in the free manner he wanted, and that meant waiting. With a jolt of his shoulder he turned one hundred and eighty degrees and resumed the long sweeping motions of his legs and carried on swishing around his room and told himself to do so until he felt like stopping.

“Cars fly past me constantly, their lights scorching the back of my eyes, there is no let up, the noise fills my ears, beeping, engines turning too fast, I have to stop my eyes releasing tears I don’t know the reason for, anger swelling in my veins, I feel impotent to stop the torrent, it never lets up.”

Addison broke away from his swishing around and felt like walking through the rooms of the house. He had yet to furnish them all but he enjoyed the feeling of freedom that gave him, he was in no rush to get the rooms ready and he was not expecting anyone. He liked imagining how he would make each room look, the colours, the textures and most importantly, the feel. Addison wanted every room to feel his, to feel home. Addison smiled and said aloud, “Home.” Stepping into the long wide hall Addison saw the identical doors of his many rooms spread down its length, his intended kitchen, his intended office, the first of his intended bathrooms, his intended dining room and the second of his intended bathrooms. Then the hall turns sharp right, around that corner one more identical door leading to his intended games room lay in wait for him before the hall finishes at the entrance to his home. Addison didn’t think about the basement and he didn’t think about the first floor either. He didn’t want to rush into seeing everything, running the risk of becoming over familiar before being familiar. It was big and it was grand but it wasn’t lived in and he was savouring the feeling of freshness. Addison lifted his arms and drew a deep breath grinning all the while as for the thousandth time he felt the openness and space of his home. Addison stopped and pondered at his relaxation, he felt no cramps in his shoulders, no gripping tension pulling his head into his chest; there was no claustrophobic apprehension in him.

“I passed the salt as was politely requested and the movement of my arm was followed all its way by a large smile, the smile stretching wider when our fingers touched as her hand took the salt from me, ‘Thank you darling.’ The room was filled with the clinks of twisting, cutting and slicing knives and forks, the whole family happily enjoying their meal. Every now and again my cheeks would flush red as my eyes met my wife’s and a wordless connection would linger between us. Everything on the table is in its place, we are in a perfect vacuum and nothing exists outside of our table. Slowly the food turns grey and I smell nothing, the table melts and my family separate into tiny bubbles and float away in all directions.”

Buy this story on Amazon.  Be sure to check out Rankine's website!

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