Words. They hurt the most. Sometimes the pain was almost physical. In fact, it was physical, especially when the rowing started.
But it wasn’t the words themselves he disliked merely the way in which they were arranged. Or rather in the manner the speaker arranged them. After a while the words became virtually incoherent and unintelligible, even when there was no rowing involved and it was merely chatter.
It was as if the speakers merely wanted to hear the sound of their own voices. That this sound, this awful discordant cacophony confirmed their existence; to themselves as much as to others. That this…this gibberishwould alert the others that, “I am here.”
In fact, hearing was all that mattered. “Hello, do you hear me?” As long as the speaker confirmed in his or her mind that the sounds emanating from their mouth had been heard then everything was okay. And all it took was an eye blink or a mouth twitch or slight hand gesture or shrug of the shoulder. If any or all of these signals was forthcoming then everything was All Right. They had been acknowledged. Self-esteem maintained. Ego still intact.
Of course there was, on occasion, the more overt approach: the raised hand, the menacing look, and the ridiculous, bellowed non-question,
“Do you hear me?”
Yet for all the torment, all the lies and all the pain, Michael loved words.
He had little time for the spoken word, but the written word was a different matter.
And it was to the room at the top of the family’s triple-storey house that he retreated to revel in the written word.
His own personal sanctuary, his temporary fortress against reality.
Here were the words he cherished. The words with which he could create anything he desired.
The shelves lined three of the four walls and contained over a thousand books. One thousand three hundred and twenty three at the last count, and this would soon increase to a number yet to be determined depending on the amount of books in the large, unopened cardboard box from a recent garage sale that sat at the foot of his bed.
Michael stepped inside his room and closed the door gently behind him, shutting out the incessant prattle
As the door clicked, he noticed the box and smiled. I wonder what’s inside, he thought, and walked silently over to find out.