Silence is best understood in the innocence of childhood. When we all grow to be the restless adults that we are now we forget that silence.
When I awoke in the center of a hospital I missed the silence that had once been mine years ago. Then a nurse and a doctor had approached me, and while ignoring me, they concluded that my parents had died a quick death at the hands of a truck driver who had sent their car rolling off of a bridge. I then heard them almost sing the luck that my little sister, Joanna, had in being the sole survivor. When these words were murmured I almost felt the silence that had eluded me for so long.
The layer between childhood and adulthood was beginning to thin.
Now I stand over her bed, her small, five year-old frame is covered by restless white covers. Her eyes are protected by a white cloth and her black hair is a stark contrast on the bleached pillow under her head.
I feel myself become tense as I fail to hear any noise coming from her, she is too silent. A small movement of her fingers on the covers startles me and I whisper her name.
Instantly she turns her head over to where I am standing, but she can't see me through the shield that covers her eyes.
"Melanie?" She whispers, her tiny voice ragged and worn.
"I'm here kiddo," I answer to her plea.
Walking slowly around her bed, I keep a stern eye on her unmoving frame. I grab the clipboard that sits forgotten on the table at the end of the room where a medium sized window offers the view of cherry blossoms. The window is open and a few blow in with the cool spring air. I grasp at the edge of the window pane to close it and stop when I hear Joanna stirring some more.
"No, please," she whispers, "leave it open, I like the wind and the smell."
I nod and forget my previous task. I look down at the clipboard and close my eyes in understanding. Permanent: blindness.
She would never see the world as others around her do. She will forever depend on the touch and sounds of others to experience her own world.
I open my eyes and nearly let out a surprised cry as the scenery has changed. My hands are now empty and there is a fog surrounding me. What the...?
"Hello Melanie," I hear a voice and turn around. A young man is standing solemnly; his face the definition of patience. "Welcome to the train station. We'll lead you to where you need to go."
I shake my head in confusion: how could I end up here after being beside my blind sister only seconds before?
Realization hits me and I move closer to the stranger, his body is emitting an attractive glow. "What exactly happened the night of my parents' accident?"
He smiles grimly and nods his head in understanding. "You need to figure that one out before you can come aboard."
"I...what?" I slump to my knees and place my hands, as a steadying structure, on the surprisingly smooth floor; the lack of temperature surprises me and I feel the emptiness that the cold would have awaken in me.
I had inherited my mousy hair from my mom, but her blue eyes had been lost on me. Dad's black hair had spent most of its lifetime combed to the side and his nose had been the finishing touch on my face when I was created.
Mom always had a morning schedule for us.
We'd wake up, brush our hair, get dressed, and eat breakfast--all of us, as a family.
I feel a twinge of pain in my head as a memory seeps through and I hold onto it as hard as a baby holds onto their mother's first protective embrace.
They were driving me to my university. Joanna was discussing how she was going to tell all of her friends that her big sister was going to a big school and mom and dad had been laughing. Her blue eyes had glinted with curiosity as she had watched the scenery pass by quickly.
"No!" I yell suddenly, afraid to see the rest.
"You need to see everything." He says, without malice in his voice, but instead determination.
"I can't," I murmur, "I can't see them die."
"I'm sorry," he says earnestly, "But you must see everything to understand."
I start crying, but my cheeks are dry; my tears had always created messes, where were they now?
The large, red, transportation truck was like a giant compared to our tiny silver 2007 Toyota Corolla. Dad had started honking, trying to get the driver of the massive truck to realize that he was driving on the wrong lane and the impact gave birth to the sound of metal on metal.
My vision blacked out, I suddenly remember, after seeing my sister, tears of blood coming from her eyes, crying and struggling with her seat belt. No sound had escaped my unmoving parents in the front seats and Joanna was calling me, her little voice shattering the deadly silence.
I stop remembering and stare ahead of me at the now empty spot where the man had been. I had not survived.
My sister was blinded and orphaned. Joanna.
"She will be taken care of." I hear his voice and look around me , searching. "Over here Melanie."
I turn back to the empty spot where he had been and instead see a large train now sitting, waiting, in the foggy entrance to the afterlife. "Will she be okay?"
"She will be," he says sincerely, "she is a strong little girl. Life can awaken the deepest of needs in people when a part of it is taken away."
I smile and nod. "I see."
I walk towards the entrance and I see him glance at his pocket watch. "Running late?" I ask jokingly as I step into the car.
"No," he smiles at me, "We're right on time."