This morning, their routine of rising and preparing for the day in silence hurts her and presses as though her soul has changed its mind and now wants something else. It might get worse, caution whispers. You’re an adult now. Have been for decades. Her fretful tongue is not encouraged. Grow up. Say something.
She has her cup of coffee when she sits down across from him. He reads a magazine.
“We should talk.”
Words are not needed to launch the day, her husband has stated. And why talk if there isn’t a problem? He has asked. Which one of those axioms will she have to confront? She reads him, she knows him. A gentle pastime, normally. But she has entered this day coming from a strange direction. Today she’s hollow.
He continues to gaze at the magazine page at a point mid page. A long way from the end of the article she realizes. She waits, like a school girl with her hand in the air. Had she actually spoken? Did he hear? Finally, he lifts his head without closing the magazine. His eyes flick from her face to the view out the window.
“It looks like snow.”
She too looks out the window. There is a flicker of snow in the air, despite the early spring. Frog snow then – one last spring flurry that falls after the frogs are out. She could expand on that, or he could. Anything, she thinks, simply anything. The silence is a blanket that pins her in a state of fret.
He looks at her closer now, catches a whiff of her distress.
“Something on your mind?”
“Maybe.” She swallows. “I want…Do you think we talk enough?”
“We’re quiet people. And as for the rule how couples must talk… often they talk themselves right into a fight.” His finger pushes the edge of the magazine page.
She watches, but the page isn’t turned. His attention bears down on her.
“Can’t…?” Her question incomplete, the very mimicry of adult behavior, doesn’t reach her yearning. She’s asked before. Can’t we just talk?
His breath whistles softly through his teeth as he closes the magazine.
“If there is something you want to say, then I’ll listen.”
The silence creeps back in. The pressure is something she let in, like a stray cat that slipped through the door. He waits. The moment is hers.
“It’s not that I have anything in particular, I just think we don’t talk enough.”
“What’s wrong with amicable silence?”
And if silence is…her memories ride a merry-go-round to her childhood. Being sent to her room because she talked too much, yap, yap, yap, adult hands mock her with puppet gestures. She hides under the bed shushing her dolls, lest they talk too much. That is silence.
Her glance goes upward from her husband’s clean-shaven cheeks to his eyebrow where a hair curls upwards like a question mark.
“It doesn’t mean it’s a fight if we talk.” Her voice softens, meditative.
He too, has a long ago, a little boy small for his age, shrunk under the barrage between his parents, the volume high and the words unending; a torrent. There was no place for him or any child to grow.
“And it doesn’t mean it’s a fight if we don’t talk.” He searches her face for reassurance. She smiles at him then as her hurt slides away. This silence, oh how obvious to her now, is a symptom of contentment. This silence, no longer a weight that pins her down, no tangle of childhood with thin places to catch and twist a toe. It might be a sacrifice, tufted with wisdom but it is one that calms and comforts.
She rises and goes to him; to check out his scent, to nestle in their safe haven. Now expressed, now understood. This custom-made recipe. Silence in the morning. And yet…
Couldn’t they just talk?