Of Conversations and Silence

Everything in the sky is weird, don’t you think so?

You don’t know what the hell they’re doing up there, and so it’s all one big hopeless mystery for the average person. Stars would shine and form symbols that sort of make up a thing and people with numerous amount of credentials and degrees would give a name for it. Then there’s the Moon, with all its glowing, and not many people know that it just borrowed its light from someone else. So technically it’s pretentious and unfair to the Sun, who everyone seems to be hiding from in our country- I wonder if they fight.
But then again, I guess all of its wonder come from that weirdness, and I am here below just watching it all happen but not really knowing if anything is happening.

SILENCE ILLUSTRATED. (illustration by Hazel Marie Bien)

I guess that’s why we earthlings try desperately to copy it in our homes, along with the drama.

I would say this because we were decorating the house with lights before all hell broke loose. Apparently, my dad had forgotten to do something, I can’t remember what, and I guess we know where I got that from. It was almost Christmas, and our backyard looked like it was given a bad shave, our mango tree was shaped like a brain and I have no idea how to make use of that especially with the lights. But then we fast forward to the Christmas tree setup. Eventually he was forgiven.

I walked in a strange steady line staring up at the night sky, everything was silent.

Not total silence. Sometimes, if I try hard enough, I would hear snippets of conversations and laughter. I guess it wasn’t silent at all, just empty of whirring fans and static television sets getting in the way of human communication.
It was dark but not really, because as I stare up at the night sky there would be the stars showing themselves finally after competing with all the man made lights from here below.

You could rarely see a sky like this anymore, but a storm had just passed, and people have died while others survived, this type of mixed atmosphere seemed appropriate.

We haven’t really talked. Even since I was a child, our family was not one to be open with each other. Most of us had secrets of our own, not really daring to share it with the others because of fear of being judged.

I remember a time when my eldest sister was so mad at my mom. I didn’t know why though. She was just going on about leaving and never coming back. She said it was because of numerous things our mom had done wrong to her, and everything just built up and she was sick of it.

But she never left.

Even when we do know about these problems, we don’t comment on it because everyone’s scared to say anything about it.

Like that time my second eldest sister Lia came home from school. She was crying. I asked her why because of course that is the normal thing to do. She said nothing. Although honestly I wanted her to say more, because I was that type of kid, but I did not ask anymore.

I wished we talked more openly about things.

“What are you doing?” my sister, Sarah, who was three years younger than me said.

“I’m waiting for a comet to pass,” I said, hoping to hide the fact that I just liked the idea of staring at the sky while it moved around me, even if I did look crazy.
She frowned and left, I stopped for a moment and watched her go back inside the house.

And now I wonder why it would make us uncomfortable, I mean we are a family and we are supposed to know what’s going on with each other so we can help or be guided.

Although it’s not like I’m doing something to change that.

A few moments later, she came back with two chairs.

I stared at her curiously, but then she said, “That will cost you a gift on Christmas.”

“No way kid. I only have two godfathers and the other one is in Manila.”

“No, ate, my efforts are always rewarded by mommy and daddy. You’re not excluded,” she sighed. I waited for a moment.

“Still having problems at school?”

“My teacher says I’m no good.”

“Well that’s not what a teacher should say at all. Not a good one at least, a teacher should never give up on a student. That’s their job.”

“But it’s true.”

“No it’s not, the only thing not good about you is the fact that you have an unproportioned complexion.”

She stared at me annoyed then frowned. “That was a long time ago- I can’t believe you said that.”

“It was easy to notice, and plus you can’t blame me- I was in second grade. That, and I topped that essay.” She didn’t say anything, so I continued, “Look, Sarah, you don’t give up on yourself, never. Okay?”

“Don’t agree to it, whatever it is, it’s probably another one of her cons,” my eldest sister Sam came in with my mom.

“Stop teasing your sister, she has enough problems already,” my mom warned.

“But, I wasn’t!” I said as I watched my dad approach us. “Daddy, they’re ganging up on me.”

“Sam, what happened?” my dad asked.

“I didn’t say anything,” she stared at me with a hiss. I hissed back as she started to argue.

“There’s a comet!” Sarah pointed up as a ray came zipping through the night sky.

Then it was followed by another one. I looked around me looking at the awed faces of my family. I closed my eyes and made a wish.

“Merry Christmas,” my mom said in an almost murmur. And it was an almost surreal silence in my mind as everyone in the neighborhood seem to be doing the same thing we were.

“Daddy, when do you think the electricity would come back up?”

“I don’t know- but I guess this is okay, don’t you think so?”

I nodded, in quiet gratitude, and in my head I sang Silent Night as a sort of offering.

You may submit your stories, poems, photos, and illustrations to Ibalio Stories via email (ibaliostories@gmail.com; ibaliostorytellers@gmail.com), Twitter (@ibaliostories), or Facebook (@ibaliostories).

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