vowel sounds

She learns early on that he's a man of a few words, perhaps the moment he hired her with that noncommittal shrug and vague, "Yeah," but time has a way of opening people up, exposing them, showcasing their truths and their faults and their flaws. Except, like mortality, he seems to escape even that.

Words do not flow easily from the man. His sheer girth is enough to intimidate so he does not need to, and his reputation is a beast that stands beside him and speaks so he does not have to, but there are volumes written into his light eyes and every line in his face tells a story. She can look closely and see his thoughts on the crinkle of his brow, the slight narrowing of his eyes, the slow nods and lip purses and the vowel sounds that come out of him that are put in place of long sentences he won't bother phrasing. She sees a lot, a whole lot, looking into his face, but she wants to listen too.

He listens enough for the both of them, his ears always open for her to fume or chatter or yell or laugh. But her ears are so tired, so tired of the sounds that could be long conversations by the edge of the lake and laughter on the rooftop of their home. She looks at him from across the room as he sits at a table counting that week's money with a look of quiet determination on his face and it says, "Don't interrupt, because then I will be angry and it will be ugly," but she would have liked to hear that. She drops a plate, a jar of marmalade, a bottle of pop, waiting for him to snap at her to keep it quiet so he can focus, but all he does is raise an eyebrow at her, looking slightly concerned, then goes back to his counting, and she can't take it anymore.

"Jesus Christ, say something!" she shouts.

Silence. Jack looks between them and vacates the premises, looking harried. She can see Howard watching impassively from the bar with liquor clouding his eyes and ignores him, keeping her gaze firmly on Forrest, waiting for a reply, a retort, something, anything.

Forrest doesn't speak. The face she has learned to read so well is unreadable now. He patiently rises from his chair and walks slowly towards her, and places himself deliberately in Howard's line of vision. As soon as her eyes meet his, she realizes how childish she must seem.

"I'm sorry," she says. She feels tears pool in her eyes and she has no idea why. "I don't know what... I'm sorry."

He puts a hand on her arm and pulls her toward him. Still he does not speak, it occurs to her that he doesn't know what to say, but his arms, encircling her, speak. And the head he lays over hers speaks. And the slow rumble in his chest, the steady, resilient heartbeat, it speaks. And Maggie thinks that they say an awful lot for a man who only speaks in vowel sounds.