What makes you cringe? Is it the idea of spiders crawling over your face in the middle of the night and the fact that people keep telling you that urban myth about the 3 or 4 specimens that walk into your snoring maw in the dead of dark and wander down your throat? For them it is silence. Not all silence, mind you. Put them on a mountain in the middle of nowhere and they will sleep like a baby. No, they mean the silence between two people who cannot talk to each other anymore. There they sit, in a room surrounded by the cacophony of life. Each looking over at the other at the precise moment that the other one looks away. Each wanting to say a thousand things, but like some writer’s block, they can’t get their lips to part and utter the words. Both too afraid of what might come out. Both too afraid that whatever comes out will mean a change. Neither of them wants a change, but they know it cannot go on the way it is.

One gets up and moves into the kitchen. The white elephant lumbers after them and waits patiently while the kettle boils. The other remains in the living room, too afraid to follow, to afraid to stay there. What do you do with your hands when your life is collapsing? Is it rude to look at your phone? Maybe that’s the best thing to do.

A question comes from the other room. Something mundane about milk and sugar. You mumble a response, automatic words, hollow sounds that give commands but say nothing of intent. You pull up a page on world events. Burying yourself in the misery of others is so much easier than dealing with your own. The screen deflects the reality in this space and gives you an escape clause. How can someone get mad at you when you care so much about others?

The other returns. A cup is placed carefully in front of you. You barely look up to acknowledge it. Mumble thanks and carry on reading. The silence drags on for days.

0 thoughts on “Cringe”

  1. Very telling! A great capture of the embarassment of awkward silences. So true…love the white elephant lumbering after them. My only puzzle was in the change of person in the story…from they to one to you. Was that intentional? Different, certainly 🙂

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