Silence and sound are canvases for emotion.
They had been silenced.
My friends, my family, they were silenced. Silence was what surrounded the School for all those years. In the silence, I heard the sound of putrid water dripping. Of wheezy breathing coming from dying experiments. The hushed sobs of those who weren't gone yet. Worst of all, the scribbling and mutters of the doctors taking notes, the doctors who only saw us as disposable science projects. I still hear those noises, late at night when it's too quiet and the only sound is inside my own head.
There was silent pain, the noiseless terror of us experiments, all too young to comprehend such fears. The fear of lying awake at all hours, too tired to move but too pained and frightened to sleep. The others were too afraid to speak, they were afraid of sound. They feared that sound would bring punishment or, perhaps, that it might bring them back into reality. They might find themselves yanked down, surrounded by cacophony, and forced to face their own lives. If it was quiet, they could lie in a stupor of drugs and daydream, pretending that nothing was real and that they were safe inside of their own minds.
Sound snapped them back into reality. The reality of what our lives were, and what we, ourselves, were. Trapped, waiting...dying.
That silence shrouded our dark, tiny cages. It was thick, it was hard to breathe. We were all so scared to move, so hesitant to break that constant silence surrounding us. It was one of the only constants any of us had. It felt like a sin to dare break it. Those silent children in those cold cages, believing that a blanket of silence could protect them. If you were quiet, perhaps you would go unnoticed. Maybe the scientist would pick another experiment that day, if only you could escape by and not bring attention to yourself.
When an agonized scream shattered the silence, our eardrums bled. When the hyperventilating of a young experiment, too horrified by the approaching doctor to keep quiet, filled the spaces between our cages, we felt our lungs constrict as well. When the crying of an experiment just returned from a painful, strenuous test echoed off those sterile walls, we too, had tears dripping from our eyes. When the mumbling of someone who had finally gone insane began, we all wondered if we would be next.
Why, then, was the silence not protecting us? Why, when it fell over our cages once more, did it only feel heavy and coarse against my shoulders? The blanket of silence is torn by those who cannot contain their pain, who cannot suffer quietly. Silence doesn't seem comforting, then. It seems intimidating.
The silence of the School cannot protect you. It was nothing but another way to control us, to strike fear into our young hearts. If I am quiet, that pain will happen again. I will hear those distant noises coming back, pounding in my ears until I can't hear anymore. I don't want to drown in silence. I have to be the sound, the ever-present noise that the rest of my family is afraid to make. For if the silence claims me, too, then I will have lost. I will lose myself in an insidious hole of silence.
That silence that the others clung to is a thunderous torrent of sound. It is the loudest thing I have ever heard, next to the noise of gunshots firing beside my ears. The sound of screaming, sobbing, pain, and terror all live inside of silence. Why can't everyone hear that? Silence speaks so much, why do people ignore it?
They silenced the people I care about, some of them permanently. But, not me. I will never be silent, you can't silence me, you can't take away my voice. It is mine, and it's one of the only things that has ever been mine, even when my own body wasn't. I will not ever allow silence to wrap around my family again. They say sound attracts attention, but the attention is what keeps me real. I want to be seen, I want to be known and understood instead of locked away like a secret.
Know that I am real, that my family is real, and that we are alive. None of this is a dream, nor is it a fairytale with a sweet ending. What happened to us, to everyone else, it was real. Suffering is real.
My wings, so warm and brown against the sky, open wide and beat loudly against the silence. The others fly in quietude, allowing their wings to encircle them and trap them in their own thoughts. My wings are like drums, and that beautiful music makes me look at them fondly, sometimes.
They silenced Fang, you know. Fang used to talk much more than he does, now. Back at the School, he would make the little ones laugh, he would make me laugh, (I was once little) and he would keep the silence at bay for a while. The white-coats didn't like it. It distracted them, they said. It was a breach of their control. They began to lash out at Fang, using a cattle prod through the bars of his cage as they coldly told us that good children are not heard.
They had hurt Fang, and now Fang is still conditioned to not open his mouth much. He is afraid of sound, he is afraid of the pain sound might bring. But, don't worry, I won't let the silence take him away. I'll talk, and I'll pretend to be happy, just to protect all of us. I talk louder than abuse and insults, I talk louder than judgment. When the silence comes, I will laugh and chatter.
Because I do not fear the sound.
I fear the silence.