For the Silence

You’ve never heard anything quieter than a snowy midnight in the suburbs. Crooked snowmen glow in the soft orange light of the streetlamp, making the shouts of children from the afternoon echo in your head, but all around you the streets are silent as the snow that falls upon them. The little ones went to bed hours ago.

You can hear the scrape of a shovel in the distance as one lone man clears his driveway, an odd time to do it but maybe he works the nightshift, maybe he’s a night owl, maybe he’s drunk as a skunk and couldn’t care less what time it is. You listen to the rhythm of plastic dragging against the cold asphalt for a time, watching the scene in your mind, watching the snow fall in an arc to the side of the drive. You almost don’t hear the taxi glide to a stop behind you, but the solitary crunch of footsteps break the near silence for good.

“I’m here to kill you,” she says.

“I know,” you reply, not looking back, looking off into the fog ahead of you instead. You used to tell her it was the clouds saying hello, a long time ago, when she was still small and trusting, when she loved you.

The click of the hammer is deafening in the silence. You have a knife at your hip, you always have a knife but it’s going to be worthless if she’s decided to play this way. You sigh. She could have at least killed you the way you taught her. The way you trained her.

“I’m sorry I murdered your momma, Susie.” You’ve always been sorry, but sometimes sorry just doesn’t cut it and sorry can never take it back.

She is silent, she is steady, she is strong, but you know she’s crying when she says “I know.”

The whole neighborhood heard that shot. Susie, baby, you’ve just caused yourself a whole lot of unnecessary trouble. Knife is quiet. Should’ve been quiet, Susie. Would’ve let you win, baby.

She doesn’t stay to watch you die, stands there just long enough to watch you bleed bright red clich├ęs all over the snow. No goodbyes, just the silence, the sweet snowy silence only marred by your heavy breathing and all too soon even that won’t break the stillness of the night. You should’ve looked back. You should’ve looked at your daughter one last time before it all fades to black.

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