Our separation was not born of some cataclysmic event or fierce argument. It was the nameless kind - a distance driven by a lack of need, of passion. A knowing that words would never again be enough. We stood facing each other but couldn't see eye to eye. Something was fractured beyond repair. And with the silence came the strange calm in my mind. No longer the racket of words falling all over themselves, tangled and bleeding at the knees. Just voices growing faint. Then quiet.
Day by day I felt myself reeled out into empty space, further and further away from those anchors we cling to drowning. Three meals a day. Phone calls to distant relatives. The brushing of teeth before bed. The obligatory kisses on cheeks for those with whom we are affectionate. Well worn paths between bathroom and bedroom, house and institution. I had wanted to be free of these affectations for as long as I could feel the structure they imposed. The crushing weight of their empty tradition. Their rigidity forced my soul to petrify.
And then what need had I for a voice, a body or a mind?
Silence brings the only liberty I could hope for, for deep within it I travel elsewhere. Away from mother and the key she wears around her neck. Away from the tutor who brings books tied together with string and an endless barrage of objects delineated by gender. Away from the restless memory of my father. In silence I can disappear for hours at a time. Spirit myself down to the street in the middle of the night. Walk the deserted road barefoot. Feel the icy bitumen numbing me to my ankles and see my breath blue in the street light. Feel the breeze that shakes the maple leaves from their moorings and sends them spinning to the ground. Find the crooked letterbox with it's collapsed roof, numbers falling. Pass through the faint glow from his window into the shadow of the lavender. Watch him kneeling on the floor in his dim front room pinning photographs to his walls. Image upon image. Creating a map of shifting colour and shape. Stringing together stories. Breathe with him through long moments of stillness. He searches for something more. For the most minute of detail. For the myriad of secrets people reveal without words. And I long for him to search for me. Hold me captive in a static image for just long enough to unpick the lock. He could unravel truth from fear silently.
Simply the ease of breathing it all in. Of seeing eye to eye. Of standing face to face. Of pressing palm to palm.