Sleeping rough, series 3 – Episode 6: Silence

I remember taking refuge in the sounds of the silent night. In the sound of my footsteps echoing from the façades of the houses where no light was coming from. In how the sound of my own breathing changed passing the gap that was an off-street. And changed right back to how it was before as soon as I had crossed that gap. I remember taking refuge in the silent sounds of my own trousers rustling every step. And in the sharp crash in my ears when swallowing some saliva.

There was no wind. Faintly the sound of a car engine grew as the car came nearer. But then it fainted into silence again, with a slightly lower voice than when it was approaching. There was no moon out. With the street lamps overhead I could hardly see any stars. The yellow light coming from the lamps shone of windows and bus stops and parked cars. All that silent yellow. It spooked me a bit. Nearby a cat cried out loud. And another one joined him. My heartbeat sped up instantly. I could now hear the sound of my own blood going through my ears adding to the silence of the night.
Silence is never silent. I stopped. I held my breath. I could hear my own body at work. Blood rushing, guts bubbling and popping. Muscles in my face cracking at my ear drums. That noise! All that noise.


I had taken to walking the streets during the night. I could not sleep anywhere and be safe at the same time at night. So at night I walked. I simply walked around. And during the day I would sleep some. Most of the time I would sleep at the beach. When the weather was bad I would turn to the Passage in the city or to some unwatched gazebo in someone’s backyard. I found I could sleep anywhere as long as I was certain of being alone.

The silence in the nights was something to get used to. And I never really got used to it. Silence is so much bigger than is sound.


I suddenly realised where I was. I was approaching home. I was walking towards my own house, towards my own family. I did not stop. I just kept on walking. Where was I going? What was I thinking?


I crouched down behind the garden table. I watched the house. It was quiet and silent and dark. It seemed so much smaller than I remembered. I felt the letter in my pocket. It was weathered but still readable. I took it out. I had taken it out so many times, reading it. I even read it out loud at moments, thinking the sound of my voice might make it into my mothers dreams. I looked at that piece of paper folded, unfolded and folded again many times. I could not read it in the dark of the garden, but I knew its contents by heart. I folded it up again. I laid it on the table. My hands search and found a pebble. I put that on top of the letter.

Then there was light in the house. A faint light came from the hallway at my parents bedroom. The light in the back room switched on after that. I saw someone coming into the room. I duck away deeper behind the table. I hoped at least the dog was still asleep. It would most certainly bark if it noticed me out here.

I saw my mother. She came into her room and sat down at her desk. She was reading something. I saw her hands get hold of her face. Her head down. Her shoulders shook up and down. She was crying.

I had a tremendous pain in my chest. I burned up inside. It was as if I got shot several times. The bullets just kept coming leaving big and burning holes where my chest was. My hands were so tightly clutched, the skin of my palms broke open at the force of my nails entering my own flesh. Tears started to run down my face. It took all of my force to not howl out with pain and sorrow and sadness and shame. O, my dear mum! Sweet mother! I’m right here! I’m okay! Really I am! Help me! Hold me!


But I couldn’t. She must not know. I bowed down, my forehead to the grass and I bit my own arm to prevent me from crying out loud. Then I sat up. I went all quiet and calm. I stood up and looked at my crying mother behind the lit window of the house. I quietly walked away staying on the grass besides the stone slabs as to prevent any noise. As I turned the corner and I made my way to the street, the tears started flowing again.

That is when I felt the blood inside my hands. I licked it, hoping I did not get too much on my clothes. And I walked off. Back in to the night, into the big silence with it’s spooky sounds of my own being.


I liked that metal and sweet taste of blood in my hands.


Next episode

Whole story


About Jikai

Living a life of blessed less where my feet support my walk and my hands create my story. View all posts by Jikai

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