Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Silence is Golden.


When I was 21, I had my first, big break-up.   I was laying beside him in bed, and just thought, I'm not in love.  It's easier to leave when you are young.  And that's what I did.

Even though I wanted it to end, I was still heartbroken.  I did what I always did when I felt bad in my early twenties in San Francisco - I jumped on my bike and rode it to Ocean Beach.

The ride to Ocean Beach from where I lived in lower Sunset was a gradual, uphill battle.  By the time I got to my destination - the vintage arcade that rests on the cusp of the beach - I was out of breath, tired, and tear-stained.  I hopped off of my bike and  looked at the familiar entrance to the arcade.  Laughing Sally was inside, and I needed her.  25 cents, and she would grab her belly and guffaw.  She had been making me laugh since I was a child.



A few more tears dropped from my eyes.  I looked up, and a funny-looking old lady stood before me.  She was short, with crazy, curly white hair and the most amazing ice-blue eyes I had ever seen.

Don't cry honey. 
I looked into her eyes, but didn't say a word.
I come here every day to visit my husband.  We had such a life.  He loved this place.
My brain was putting pieces of her life together.   I was thinking things, but couldn't seem to muster a word.   I couldn't avert my glance from those incredible eyes.
You don't know now, but this is nothing.  It goes by fast, and there will be more.  Don't be sad.  There will be so much for you.  You don't know now.
And again:
I come here every day to visit my husband.  We had such a life.  He loved this place.  I have to go honey.  Don't cry.

I watched her walk away.  Suddenly, it was so loud.  The sound of the ocean, the speeding of the cars along the Great Highway, the laughter of the children on the beach - it was as if someone had turned the volume button way up as she disappeared around the corner of the arcade.  It was definitely on mute while she was speaking.  There had been no sound as she stood in front of me, but her funny, happy, shaky little voice.

I followed her around the corner.  There was nothing there but an amazing view of the ocean, and a low wall.  My tears had disappeared and a smile stretched across my face.  I don't know where she came from, or where she went, but for a moment in time - that silence was ours.  We were in another world.  It's easier to believe in magic when you are young.  And that's what I did.

I brought my quarter into the arcade, dropped it into Sally, and laughed.


read to be read at yeahwrite.me

21 comments:

  1. That's such a beautiful ghost story. I like that the ghost is still visiting her husband, telling the narrator that the future is beautiful. It's like it's a future you telling yourself about this guy you're going to meet, even though that can't be possible.

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  2. Oooh I loved that. I know the arcade, too! Great interpretation.

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  3. I love the movement in this story, and the happy ending. Well done!

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  4. Very sweet story. I love the mystery of it.

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  5. What a touching story. I love the way people come into our lives unexpectedly at just the right time.

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  6. Haunting story! I like how you described the volume being turned up after she left, emphasizing the surreal silence that surrounded her during your encounter.

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  7. San Francisco is a big place that can also feel so small. This story shows that even a heartbroken girl can get some attention.

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  8. Great story! I loved that your young adult self was able to find her way back to a place in childhood that brought her comfort and joy.

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  9. Wow, what amazing resilience you had. Isn't it strange that we can be heartbroken even when we wanted it to end? It's true and confusing. Love this post.

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  10. Thanks everyone. I always tell people that I have seen ghosts, but I have never written one of these experiences down before - so this was a first for me, and a little hard.

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  11. Such sage advice from that woman -- very cool! And sometimes, just laughing is all we need.

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  12. Chilling - those moments are so real and surreal all at the same time. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  13. oh i love this story and i LOVE these moments in life that i do believe we all experience... not sure if we all remember or believe, but, well, i do.

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  14. You nailed this! I totally felt like time had stopped in that moment.

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  15. What a tale you have spun. I enjoyed it. Ellen

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  16. What a great story!
    The emotion and details were great, and I loved the way you described how the volume seemed to return to normal when the lady left.
    Excellent.

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  17. This was great. I felt like as I read her haunting words, the rest of the story stopped. I wasn't thinking about what you had just written or what you might write next, just those words right there. Then when you mentioned the silence, I realized I read the silence - if that makes any sense. Loved this.

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  18. This was incredible. Wow, wow. It may be easier to leave when you're young, but it doesn't hurt any less. Loved this story.

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  19. Breaking up is never easy. What a great story from beginning to end!

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