Blankets | Teen Ink


July 1, 2018
By agwriting GOLD, Sammamish, Washington
agwriting GOLD, Sammamish, Washington
10 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Silence is many things. Peaceful, angry, bored, reverent, somber, shocked, but always a blanket one can wrap around themselves, a shield from everything else.

I was silent that night when my mother asked me who ate the candy bar that she had found in my backpack. “Well?” she thundered “Are you going to answer me or not?”

I looked down at my hands, clenched so tightly that my fingernails were digging into my palms and my knuckles were white. I didn’t know what to say. If I told her that I ate it, she would be angry at me for not feeling guilty. If I didn’t answer, she would just get increasingly irritated. If I said something like a lost it, she wouldn’t buy it. Paralyzed, I just sat there, numbly staring into my fists, a tear making its way down my eight year old face, letting a thin blanket of silence drape over me, turning me into a numb statue. As I had predicted, my mother just became increasingly irritated until she eventually gave me a sound scolding, as if what she had already been doing by way of interrogation wasn’t enough. The blanket was too thin to protect me from her piercing words, they hit me square in the chest, knocking the breath and self worth out of me, and stayed that way for the years to come.

I was silent that time during recess when my schoolmates taunted me for my skin color. We do not live in a post-racist country, I learnt that day, leaving me less naive with every word. There was nothing for me to say when a friend had said “I won’t play with you. I’m better. I read it in a book, that you’re supposed to do whatever I tell you because of your face.” These foolish kindergarten  words about a Civil War textbook left marks on my heart for many years to come. A shroud of sad silence had engulfed me that day, as I desperately wished that I was not different, that I could be one of the others, skipping together happily, their fair hair and pale faces glinting in the sun, slathered in smelly white, needing protection from sunburn.

Next time, the blanket cheoked me.  Just last summer, I was silent, as the boys in my summer camp thought it funny to yell ‘BROWN POWER!”, and attempted to get too familiar with a new phenomenon, my bra strap- tributes to my unchosen originality in the all white, male peer group. I was not silent because I didn’t know what to say. I had plenty to say. Had I unleashed the growling monster in me, words would have shot out of my mouth, rough and sharp, hurled like knives of ice towards those three guffawing creatures that thought it fit to point out time and time again, something I had no control over, something that doesn’t change who I am in the least. I was silent because they were not worth the effort of hurling those knives. I’d hardly turn my head in their direction- for if they couldn’t see part a superficial difference, they could not be worth anyone’s attention. This time, my silence was in it's own way, defiance. The blanket of silence this time becoming a gag, binding my mouth shut, protecting the world from my words.

I was silent yet again for those two years when I felt that life was not worth living. It was just empty space, waiting to be filled. I had not the motivation, nor the energy to fill those hollow spaces. There was nothing to say. What could I have possibly said anyways? Perhaps I could have taken the question “How was your day today?” to another level, drowning the asker of the question in my personal tsunami of misery, when all they expected me to say was “Pretty good, how was yours?” with a jaunty, winning smile. Those countless hours which could have been filled with jubilant chatter were swept away in the silent, heavy quilt that smothered me. Silence that was empty, emotionless. Someone throws that heavy quilt over me now too, and though I defiantly kick it off on most days, leaving a thin sheet in its absence, there are days when i feel my dead weight sinking into the bed, the blanket crushing me, smothering me, erasing me from existence, a curse of depression.

I was yet again silent, when a year ago, one of my classmates took his own life. A dim buzzing filled my ears, the panicked gossipping of others around me drowned out by the horrible, heavy silence that covered me in an itchy woolen throw, uncomfortable, but too heavy to get rid of. That silence didn’t leave me completely for many days, bouts of quiet, numb, staring into space filled my days, as I barely acknowledged the people standing in front of me, the plate which once contained hot food, the homework that needed doing, and the teardrops on the book in front of me. I was rarely completely silent on the outside. My mind on autopilot, I would reply, and smile faintly, the corners of my mouth pulled up unwillingly, nod my head and shake it when appropriate. But inside, the silence was stifling. To this day, that blanket envelopes me sometimes, and my mind always wanders back to thoughts of him, and though I can shift uncomfortably underneath it, I must wait for it to lift itself. Each time I put pencil to paper, the blanket envelopes me again, urging me to write about him. Urging me to rip open the wounds that will close slowly, to embrace the blanket of silence, and leave it there. Things that were dear to him, are strewn carelessly throughout my world. Hawaiian flowers, skateboards, apple juice, soccer, purple hats, letter jackets, crumpled algebra homework, every problem answered incorrectly. They just make the woolen throw itchier.

In my life, silence is rarely good. In good times, I tend to spew words rapid fire, the happiness bursting out of me. Happiness is never easily hidden, for I have come to cherish it, in all of it's genuine appearances in between the fake ones, that I convince myself are real. There have been few fuzzy baby blankies of silence, in a stark contrast to all the heavy, stifling ones. Silence will trail throughout one's life, brushing every event in some way or another. It is your choice to make. Would you like to someday write a book of all the regrets you have for not speaking up, or write a teary memoir full of sad memories, which bring back the heavy comforters? Or would you rather look back on life, pondering in a satisfied silence, as you find that you have no regrets, and that there are enough happy silences, that the sad ones don’t seem like blankets at all. But perhaps little handkerchiefs.

The author's comments:

Blankets can be warm and conforting, but also too heavy, smothering, and too hot. Which ones wrap you up?

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