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Presented by State Library Victoria

The Sound of Silence- Short Story

 

Hi!

I wrote a short story for a writing competition and I wondered what people thought about it – please comment below.

The Sound of Silence

The silence smothers me like a blanket, forcing the air from my lungs and taking all my
remaining strength. What I would give to hear one more sound, one snatch of laughter, one
honking car… I am only 16, after all. I should be going to school and chatting with my
friends, not lying on a cold, unwelcoming hospital bed, unable to hear what is going on
around me, terrified that I won’t beat this stupid sickness.

The mousy haired nurse bustles in, says something to the patient opposite then bustles over to
my bed. She looks at me, smiling one of those artificial smiles that tells me immediately she
would rather not be here, dealing with the deaf girl, who might be dead soon anyway.

Her lips mouth my name. Sophia. Then she holds up a mini whiteboard and scrawls on
it: How are you feeling? Fine, I try to tell her. I’m not sure if the words come out. She rubs
the words out with her sleeve, then scribbles furiously and shows me again: Sleep. Everything
will be okay. I smile at her to show her my thanks, but it probably looks more like a grimace.
As soon as she turns her back, the facade melts off, leaving me empty inside.

My mother dozes in the armchair beside my bed, face pale. I study her waned features. She
looks exhausted.

It is hard to believe that less than 48 hours ago I thought that at this time I would be at
Willow’s birthday party. But that was before the disease that was slumbering deep inside of
me cracked open an eye. After I collapsed, complaining about a pain in my ear, I was rushed
to the hospital. The doctors told me I had less than a year to live, and I would never hear again.

I rest poorly. Tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable on the hard, lumpy mattress, I
finally feel sleep settling over me.

I am standing in an unfamiliar bedroom, by the bay window, gazing down at the murky street
below. The streetlamp splutters into life, illuminating the figure loitering by the pole, its back
to me. Wearing all black, collar turned up, hands shoved in pockets, a hat perched
on its head.

A sense of foreboding trickles through me, compelling me to shudder involuntarily. That’s
when the ringing begins, wrapping around me as the trepidation mounts.
The figure languidly turns around, and I see his face. I stifle a scream.

He has no face.

Instead, where a nose, mouth, and ears should be, blank, smooth skin, stretches tight across
his head. But it is his eyes that truly terrify me. Pure white. No iris, no pupil. A dark
substance pours from them, dripping down his eyelashes and streaming down his cheeks.
After a horrifying moment I realise that it is blood.
The ringing intensifies, swallowing me whole, wrenching my breath away.

I lurch upright, soaked through in sweat, lips parted in a silent scream (at least for me), eyes
wide, pupils dilated. The nurse comes galloping in, wheezing. Mum jerks and is awaken
suddenly, chestnut hair tousled, eyes dulled. The other patients are stirring now, grumbling and groaning,

and I feel bad for rousing them, so I snap my mouth shut. Heart leaping against
my ribcage, the pale, alarmed face of the nurse swims in my vision.

I am pulled back under in a wave of blackness. The darkness opens its maw and gobbles me
up; my feet slam onto fluffy carpet, and a white curtain billows around me as I peer down at
the opposite pavement a storey below.

Bile rises at the sight of those bleeding eyes and smooth features, but I fight the
overwhelming urge to vomit. Throat burning, I gulp down great, heaving breaths.

A man’s voice, high pitched and cold, echoes around my head: “You will give anything, pay
any price to be normal again, won’t you?”

Chilled to the bone, I nod, tears staining my cheeks.

“Very well,” he utters in a tone of finality.

With a huge gasp, I am abruptly thrashing uncontrollably in my blankets. Suddenly, I realise
I’m doing it, so I stop, frozen in place. The nurse is shrieking to the heavens, eyes rolling
madly as she lifts a shaking arm to point to Mum.

I clap my hands to my ears. My head feels as if it’s about to burst. I don’t wonder
what’s wrong. At this moment, I feel nothing, except elation at this miracle: I can hear!

Then I look. One tiny glance, and my happiness evaporates like a short- lived firework. Mum
lounges in her chair, dulled eyes open but not seeing, face white as death.

The truth hits me like a brick to the face.

She is dead.

4 comments

inky Centre for Youth Literature

Whoa! Love how this piece builds to the end! Very clever to build a foundation in realism so strongly and quickly and then manage to incorporate the magic realism. Good luck in the competition!

3w ago
bookwithbane

I really loved it! The only criticism I had was, how did she know they were groaning?

3w ago
valkyriecain

Ohhhhh so true!!!!!! 😂
Thanks for the feedback

3w ago
alexbailey

Maybe she could see their faces and interpret that they were groaning...? Loved the story though! A bit creepy...

3w ago