When does a story begin or end?
What does the past say about the present?
On New Years Eve, I listened to my husband explain that he felt a dark hole growing in his heart. He could not describe the emotion he felt attaching itself to that hole. "Perhaps the emotion is the unnamable one," I said, "the one that we don't know. You know? That one our culture cannot feel."
We heard about this emotion on a podcast that we listened to on our way to Washington State. The emotion was described as being silent or a groaning. I can only describe it as the physical action of wrinkled time stretched tight. The emotion is like a string pulled so tight that to twang it would cause it to break.
What is that silence between the breaking points: the moment before a string is strummed and the moment it is strummed; the moment before a bomb goes off and the moment it explodes?
"I have been told that I am not welcome because of what is in my thoughts."
"You ask too many questions."
"No one knows the answers to your questions."
I am rejected for these questions. Dismissed because I will no longer say with confidence, "I know." Perhaps silence is always the best answer.
Silence comes with the realization that nothing I say or do will cause "it" to change. Silence is the moment of "not change." The moment change begins and before it ends.
"I have said my piece, and now, I will listen." When I listen, I respond with silence because to defend myself will do no one any good.
"I will understand and choose not to be understood."
My silence is a ticking bomb. Why is my silence a threat?
"You have everything you have ever wanted, and yet you have nothing," I scream this silently.
"Do you believe in heaven and hell?
It is a yes or no question."
"I don't know is a better answer than I know."
To question certainty is to become a threat. Is this why I feel that I must disappear? I conform to others expectations to be safe. I conform and stay silent.
Silence is the moment change begins and before it ends. What comes after silence?
"Perhaps the emotion is the unnamable one," I said, "the one that we don't know. You know? That one our culture cannot feel."
What happens when the string breaks?
Alana Jamison grew up in Oklahoma and currently resides in Western Kansas. Her writing appears in Flash: The International Short Short Story Magazine and The Pitkin Review. She is a graduate of Goddard College's MFA in creative writing program and a student in Fort Hays State University's Transition to Teaching program. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alanajamison.