Garden of Silence

Matthew Onate, Staff Writer

Brian Sadthill had realized there weren’t many quiet places anymore.

The world was loud: it was full of noises from strange places. Just last week, as he was celebrating his little sister’s birthday, the boys outside decided tonight would be apt for another bout of screaming and shouting, like wolf cubs. His little sister went to bed real late that night, woke up tired in the morning. Sadthill was awake the whole night staring at the ceiling or out the window. Boys ran around playing hide-and-seek in the graveyard.

Two weeks later, he set out in the early morning beneath peach-bottom skies and no clouds. It was a righteous quest to find somewhere quiet; a place exempt from any sort of noise.

Would she have a peaceful, restful birthday next year?

Brian decided she would, somewhere with a view.

So he went out on a series of walks in the next few months, weekends only. On Fridays, Brian spent his time looking at screens. This was not preferred, Brian was a hands-on learner, but was necessary for research purposes. Saturdays, he’d go out on aforementioned walk, taking it all in, observing, recording with the some newly-bought sound equipment (purchased with some retirement savings), hearing. But he never heard anything, so Brian packed and he went home alone in the dark. On Sunday, after talking with his little sister at Church or the other place, he’d review the records and observations, calculate, and spit out hopeless data on the kitchen table.

There were people in the parks, and so many cars, too.

In the cornfields and rows of pumpkins—lots of loud sprinklers.

And, when Brian thought he found somewhere worth something: a plane sliced through the crisp silence.

When he saw the planes overhead, in those unreachable parts of the fields, it usually struck him as, Hey, maybe God is just pissed off with me. Brian didn’t like to think about God much. He went to Church, said Prayers at the specified times: not with much fervor though, and pretty selfishly. Maybe that was it, he deduced privately (in the cornfield); and decided he’d say a Prayer at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; twice on Sundays, in His name, Amen.

It was a brisk Saturday morning; Sadthill was out walking, adorned in the plastic fixings of his audio equipment, listening. Had he Prayed this morning? He had: Prayed really hard, counted the beads on his new Rosary, happily. He stared off into the grass (a nice green; full of dew and some crickets), thinking to himself about God and other Mysteries.

Brian wept.

He remembered when she passed. It was morning; she was hit by a neon-green Chevy (driven by some pill-popper fresh off a bad trip) heading downtown to score some oxy. Things like that aren’t supposed to happen on the Goddamn sidewalk. And walking to school, to first grade? No, not like that—not at all. Brian started talking to himself, saying, Little sisters are supposed to live long lives! Supposed to grow old, get married, have little daughters or sons of their own.

He said the words to himself, then began screaming towards God:

Damn You!

She needs somewhere to rest! Goddamn You, somewhere quiet! O Lord; You took her so unfairly. Stole, robbed, like a thief in the night… She had no time to be sent away: to say goodbye, or to watch Sunday cartoons, just once more! And there are noises in the graveyard every damn night—boys, shouting and hollering, dancing on graves! Oh, Benevolence; give her some peace and quiet, please. Brian smashed his fist on the ground, killed a cricket.

But God chose not to hear him. Far too many angry young men in the world.

Streamlined decision making.

Still, Brian had found over the years that the vocalizing of things made it easier—a little strange, sure, for someone looking for silence to find peace in shouting/swearing/letting the world hear him, but it felt nice actually. An ironic, semi-sad niceness.

He continued to scream through the morning: in the park, in the police cruiser, in his cell for a day or two. He didn’t mind who heard him so long as it was getting to God, and Brian Sadthill certainly didn’t care whose day he was disrupting. When he finally knelt at the foot of her grave, Brian reveled in memories of merriness and the love that was their laughter, finding there was more peace in white noise and the chirping of birds than in the absence of them.