Sonare sat characteristically silent as people wandered. Most residents vowed to spoken silence. Residing within Sonare, while a citied paradise, proved nothing short of cursed. Should words venture past inhabitants’ lips, they would only speak truths. Be it harsh, relationship-ending, or wanted, the city of Sonare existed not for the faint of heart. Rarely, when conversation arose, it was short and simple—devoid of needed opinion.
The city held not a date of birth or history of construction. The place had just been. Surely, if a soul brave enough asked the question repeatedly, one may have had the answer. However, the residents of Sonare lacked the gall.
Breaking Sonare’s curse was attempted on numerous occasions. The only reprieve gifted by their investigations was written word. Yet, those accommodations ran scarce. Written word often encouraged an auditory response.
From those auditory responses, truths flowed. And while not all spoken truths left Sonare’s inhabitants in violent puddles of disdain, the occurrences happened frequently enough for them to gain caution. It had been agreed most communication would travel through those that assisted in sustaining the city. Shopkeepers received most letters; notices of restocks, requests for supplies not yet shipped, small jobs easily completed with minimal interactions to put food on the table, and miscellaneous thanks expressed by children.
If only I could speak, Lys thought quietly as he watched the woman at his favorite corner store offer fruit nearly bad.
Lys could speak his truth and admit his feelings, but Syre’s response held his fear. If she did not feel the same, the woman at the corner store would tell him, unblinking, how she felt. The woman he’d adored since they were kids knelt to meet a child’s hand with an apple slightly off-color. She smiled cheerfully as the child dug into his back pocket and offered a note.
He studied Syre while she uncrumpled the piece of paper and scanned the words. With a brightening smile, Syre nodded at the boy before he scurried away. When produce approached its end, Syre was known for her generosity. So her freshly-grown goods would not go to waste, she strode through the streets with a woven basket offering them without charge. Most times, she attracted children, because apples and oranges were especially sweet.
She adjusted the basket until it rested in the curve of her hip and arched her forearm over the opposite edge. The blue handkerchief holding away her stray strands of auburn hair shifted along to the rhythm of a slightly brisk breeze. Still, she beamed, hefting the basket periodically as she reached the next shop. With a hopeful and polite knock, she waited to meet the librarian.
Lys never required her words to know who she was. Bright, cheerful, loving, grateful throughout their lives, Syre always glittered. The most beautiful part about her, Lys thought, was her ability to express exactly who she was through her actions.
I just want to talk to her, his mind whined. Why can’t I? It’s only the truth!
He exhaled roughly and crossed the street once the librarian welcomed the woman’s presence. His sandy hair brushed his forehead as he began to count the cracks within the concrete. He suffled by a knittin store only to be stopped short.
“Boy! Return this to your mother!” an old lady ordered.
Some people shouldn’t speak, he muttered internally.
“She requested repairs, but I cannot take one more gander at this filthy thing. The stitchwork is horrendous, It needs to be tossed to the homeless. That’s the only good it will do!” she cried.
Lys whipped his body around and glared at the woman.
“We may not speak often, but you have not lost your tongue!”
If I spoke, you would kill me. I am not a boy, you old shrew. I’ve been a man for six years.
“Let’s go! I am not getting any younger!
Fortunately… his mind snickered.
Lys forced away the grin creeping across his lips before stepping to the woman with an open palm.
“The quilt is putrid. Nothing about it is cohesive!”
Say one more—
“She needs to give this hobby to the dust! Her efforts should be considered a crime.”
“Yeah?” Lys spat despite wanting to keep his lips shut. “So is the smell of your breath, hag! This was a gift passed down from my grandmother before she passed!” Lys snatched the worn quilt from her.
The old woman’s mouth opened, but she did not speak again.
“Some people are better left silent,” he added, storming away.
He heard vile retorts casted in his direction, but he refused to give the woman satisfaction. In his mind, he’d had the last word. Truths sucked. He swore people of Sonare used its curse solely to hurt others. He wished those truths were a crime—the old woman living to be a crime. Had she left her order without continuous comment, he’d have dismissed her nastiness.
Unwrinkling the precious piece of fabric, he tossed it over his shoulder to ensure the frail edges did not drag the ground. Truthfully, the quilt had not been the most appealing creation his mother asked to be fixed, but it didn’t matter. He would never tell her so. Lys thought the quilt to be a tattered love.
A soft tap on his shoulder stopped him a second time. Nastiness filled his mind as he turned but swiftly removed it when Syre stood with a note in hand. The decorated paper sported graceful flowers and dragonflies, and Lys noted the prettiness of it to match her personality. Though Syre could speak, she seemed to practice mutism most. In fact, Lys recalled hearing her voice only twice in their twelve years. He guessed it was because written word called to her.
She’d written poetry and short letters of support that she posted on her store windows.
When he did not immediately take the note, Syre thrusted it toward his chest with a grunt.
He took the note with surprise.
Then, Syre nodded harshly, set her basket off to the side of her right ankle, and folded her arms.
“Read it now,” he said for her.
Syre nodded once again.
“Alright…” He took a deep breath before he read, “‘She’s never been nice to anyone. Don’t mind her.’”
Syre cocked her head when they made brief eye contact.
“‘I think the blanket is sweet. Did your grandmother make it? Do you know?’” he continued.
Syre gestured her hand outward as prompting.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, “but if you bring your notepad and that basket of leftover fruit, I’m sure my mother won’t mind offering you the story. We’re family enough for that, I think.”
Syre gasped and nodded rapidly.
She leaned and snatched the basket from the ground. Her excitement encouraged a returning smile from Lys. When he was certain she wasn’t paying attention, he stared briefly, admiring the beauty of her pale skin.
If only I could speak… echoed in his head.