In Between the Silence

Submitted into Contest #175 in response to: Start your story with two people planting a tree together.... view prompt


Drama American Romance

It was a raining day much like today when they first planted a tree together. Jenn had just started living with him in his two bedroom apartment. The city scape was like a night mural in the dark sky. Their love a roaring thunder of exciting fervor and uncontrollable passion. Much like any young lover the nights were intense and the bodies spoke more than their words. 

One Saturday morning, Scott wanted to get a flower for the apartment but Jenn suggested a small lemon tree. So both in agreement went out and got a small seedling lemon tree. They giggled all the way to the store, their hands unable to stay apart kept rejoining every time they parted. 

Sometime past midday the sky turned sour and the spring rains poured. The two in a stage of ignorance still went out and dug a small round hole at the corner of the tiny backyard. The planted the lemon tree and completely forgot about since their hands had missed each other again and could not wait to be reunited. It was not perfect but each one was perfected by the other. They soon forgot their previous relationship feeling that this was the beginning of a life partnership.

The memory from three years ago hunted them separately and differently. As the rain frizzled and died leaving the afternoon sky in a low light gray contrast. It was the time of the year where the dullness of the day was impossibly evident. The trees wallowed and the grass yellowed with the dawn and the dusk hardly ever different. The open window was all that separated the day from the ones who had most to lose. 

The gloom seating with overbearing could not make the room any darker. It came into the house and consumed the new homeowners with memories of regret and heart-ache. It ate the mood and left the shades of quietness that needed no words but heavy sighed collapsing into the air. 

Scott sat watching and waiting for the right time to go out. His eyes fixed on the window, beyond the glass and beyond the rain with as sense of eagerness filling them, soft but focused intent that could not be tranquilized. 

Jenn, in her pajamas with her furry socks, laid on the pale off-white sectional they had bought. She was covered in a layer of blankets and lethargy that fixed her in place like glue on paper. Her eyes were also fixed talking screen on the living room wall, yet somewhere else afar beyond his reach.

“I think we are good now.” Scott said. 

He could feel a little annoyance slipped out in the way his tone rang in the room. The sound cutting through the wall of silence that had stood firm between them. He regretted this immediately feeling the stable silence had crumbled and her gaze was on him, unavoidable. She would let nothing escaped her, especially his slate. 

“It’s been thirty minutes and the drizzling has stopped I don’t think we’ll get a better chance today.” he continued.

This was another attempt to cover the previous mistake. He knew he could not do anything but he still tried to counter his own error.

“Do we really have to do it today?” She asked. 

Without turning she could sense the change in his expression, she expected another tone in his response. Maybe a reprisal or a scorn, perhaps another sigh but nothing unfamiliar to what he has always done whenever he is vexed.

“You know what today is right?” He pounced.

“There it” she wondered.

Scott’s face was a mixture of folds and lines when he turned his head to face her. The piercing hazel eyes cut a gaze of almost contempt. He sighed and more annoyance and displeasure sounds came out unintentional.

“I think we need to plant the tree today and now seems to be a better time.” Scott said. “It won’t take long, lets just get it over with,”

The idea of moving from her perfect position was not compelling to her. She, however moved but to appease him and in the spirit of getting it over with it. She laggard around moving first her arms in an extended motion, then her legs uncurling from underneath the blankets and coming out one after the other. Unpleased and filled with invisible bearing weights she laid in a strange contorted position with legs on the ground but her body remained laying on the couch.

He stood abruptly avoiding her gaze and started walking towards the pot he had placed next to the doorway. It was a medium sized ceramic made, with dark engravings along the ivory surface. He had hand picked it for this occasion. Halfway to the door he remembered about the seeds and he reached out to his upper shirt pocket feeling them as his hand touched the pocket careful tapping with his fingers.

“Ow yes still there” he thought feeling reassured.

Turning back he located the pot stationed by the patio door sitting waiting to fulfill it’s purpose. It was something he needed to do and maybe through this a different experience can be achieved in their current status. 

The crisp cold air on the upper floor balcony was stinging with intense ferocity. The wind was biting with a freezing gust devouring the outside where the smell of rain was still fresh. As the door swung open, Scott felt the full pressure of this bite and restrained his expressions managing to slightly convince Jenn with a committed act that the cold was not bothering him to the very least. 

Standing in the cold, Scott realized that the significance of what they were about to do, and the meaning both had initially attached to this tree had slightly different. The two years they had spent in happiness felt like a dream that faded in smoke and the waved of time had changed her and him alike. 

Himself, unaware of these changes until now was now sensing a bitterness of sorts to their relationship, he resented more the feeling than he could explain. He wanted the past year to disappear from his memory and replace it with more meaningful, more appealing memories but all he could see was strife. In the past year, the catastrophic event had brought with it a rift in their relationship, and slowly the grew apart with each passing day. Even now as they stood a feet apart, they were further than the north was to south pole.

Jenn standing quietly with the unspoken language that divided them could feel nothing but the chilling cold air. The distance between them was clear to her and fixing it was beyond her part. Day by day, it became even harder for her to say anything that could break the unsurmountable mountain of glacier. She was consumed by doubt, anger, pity, and sadness that shredded her from the inside. The flames of passion she had once burned with became a wet pile of ash that would not ignite.

He removed the seeds from the packet and poured two or three into the dirt filled pot. In an attempt to attach new meaning he pulled dirt from the bag with his bare hands dumped it into the pot. His hands cold he continued this process until there was but an a small tip of pot left undone.

Once all this was done a small droplet of water fell from the sky. The time was approaching three and they stood still as if waiting for someone to say something. 

“It’s done” He said softly.

She nodded her head politely for that was all she could manage to do at the moment. 

The rain poured carelessly that afternoon and sometimes a flicker of light came through the window and intruded their silence. A habitual practice was likewise still in place and everything seemed the same except for one tiny detail. He stared at the window lost in the rain traveling into the past and she laid on the couch with her eyes adrift.

The silence still in the room sharing their home like a guest uninvited was feeling the peak of the overstayed hospitality. A small ember of light had somehow managed to remain alight, and the winds of time were starting to change. 

The blanket covering her was now widespread, beyond the hands and the unmeeting gaze, her legs had uncurled and fully stretched beyond the warm shelter settling on the envelope of his fingers on top of his lap.

December 10, 2022 03:48

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Michele Duess
14:55 Dec 15, 2022

I liked the story and the ambiguity at the end. Will they stay together? The only lines I found confusing was she says "there it." And "the silence still in the room..." could be made more clear. Got this story from the critique circle so I give you my impressions. Otherwise I thought it was good.


Lunny Muffin
03:18 Dec 24, 2022

Thanks a lot Michele, it helps to hear that i always struggle with how much to say vs don't say lol where is the balance. I appreciate you reading the story


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