The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence

September 13, 2011 Writing 21

It’s time for another Indie Ink Challenge. This week I was challenged by Kayla. I challenged Aimee. I will share more information on that at the bottom. Enjoy!


It was not always like this. For three generations I had kept time, my yellow cuckoo peeping out at the top of every hour, my whistle at every quarter. It was always this way, every day. Unless they forgot to change my batteries, which happened once in a while until they missed my cuckoo or the whistle of my chime.

I have no idea what time it is anymore. My whistle stopped before my cuckoo, but once my cuckoo stopped, I stopped remembering to move my hands. I had been moving my hands forever. It feels foreign and strange to be still. This house is so quiet now that the children have all grown and moved on, just as they always do. Their swollen baby cheeks grew gaunt and thin, bringing in their own chubby handed and swollen baby cheeked miniatures until they too disappeared into that place where people go. No more baby giggles to tease the cuckoo out of his hiding place. No small voices demanding the clock work now! No little stamping feet that grew into gentle caresses. They are all gone now, save one. One left in a metal cart, muscles barely strong enough to maneuver the giant wheels that have replaced her legs. It is too familiar now, this quiet, I must confess.


I can smell the dust gathering along the shelves. It has been quite some time since I have seen anyone. I have heard no clattering of dishes, no metallic cadence of pots and pans, or the hum of the refrigerator. No wheels creaking the floorboards with their weight. The light is never bright enough anymore, always seeming  filtered, as if I am looking through a haze. My cuckoo has grown heavy; she is weary of standing in one place. We are all tired.

I am lonely. My wish for someone, anyone, has died long ago. I do not know this emptiness. I am glad my hands have stopped moving, for I am afraid that my cuckoo, in shattering the silence, would make the house tremble, its fragile glass to break. For once I am glad that my batteries have not been changed. This silence is overwhelming, yet I dare not betray it.


Voices pierce the air and awaken me. My view is dim. I have lost my eyesight, and my hearing is going as well. Hope surges within my bowels. I would wave my pendulum if I were able to. I bid my cuckoo to emerge just one last time, to let us go out in a blaze of glory. Hope overriding sensibility, my eagerness to draw attention to myself consuming every gear and screw within me. It has been too long and I am weak, too weak. The voices fade away and silence wraps her chilly arms around me once more.

I do not know how much time has passed but the voices are back. I cannot understand them anymore. I only know that I can feel them hovering below me. A slight tickle of wind on my face clears my vision slightly. They stab at my head, causing acute pain, in an attempt to make my cuckoo emerge. Unsuccessful, I feel warmth on my sides as I am removed from my lofty perch, only to rise and fall with the motion of the human holding me. My imagination sends shivers through my body, down through my pendulum, all the way to my cuckoo. I am placed in cardboard, cushioning beneath me, crushed velvet softening the blow. Downy softness blinds me and smothers me and darkness erases the light.

If only my mind could stop as easily as my body has.


Kayla challenged me this week to “write about your greatest loss.” This is what I came up with. Constructive criticism is always wanted and welcomed.

I challenged Aimee, whose simply FABULOUS response you can find here. Her challenge: “You are being executed for a crime you did not commit. Using stream of consciousness writing, adding in idioglossia language (aka James Joyce style) and nonlinear narrative, what are your thoughts during the last fifteen minutes of your life?” I’m telling you she met and jumped the fence with this one. Must read!!!

Have you taken the challenge? What are you waiting for!!


21 Responses

  1. A very well written piece and one I can relate too!

  2. TheKirCorner says:

    Wow, this is so good, the stream of words and feelings. I felt the pain of being that broken clock, the loss it is suffering as it ages and grows silent. It reminded me of an old woman in a rest home, just playing out her days, each day taking a little something more from her.

    It was just spectacular.

  3. Carrie says:

    I like the POV of the clock and the sadness you’ve evoked with its feelings of uselessness. I feel so sorry for the poor thing.

    Some critiques: the word cuckoo is overused a bit perhaps in the beginning. And I think you might be mixing tenses. It seemed to switch from a present to a past tense now and again.

    There’s some unnecessary words sprinkled throughout that could be cut and strengthen the piece. For example: “I don’t know how much time has passed but the voices are back though I cannot understand them anymore.” You could break this into 2 sentences and lose the word but. Or this one: “It is too often too quiet of late, I must confess.” You could drop the first ‘too’ and it flows better.

    Interesting piece, as always 🙂 Oh BTW, I am SO GLAD I wasn’t stuck with the prompt you came up with this week. That was just EVIL

    • DM says:

      The overuse of the cuckoo is on purpose as it is an important part of the clock’s existence. I did switch on purpose as the clock had bits of memory mixed in with it’s present narration.

      Thank you for the advice on cutting some words out. I do think I get to be too wordy, and ever since the Hemingway challenge, I find myself thinking “is this simple enough?”

      As for my challenge? SHE ROCKED IT. And calling it EVIL makes me giggle. That’s kind of how I have felt about my string of challenges lately. I can’t complain though. I’m amazed at what I’m writing now.

  4. Feisty Cat says:

    Hey Drama Mama,

    I could feel the sadness and passage of time. Lovely. And, what an interesting concept; to tell it from the clock’s point of view.

    –Feisty Cat

    • DM says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you felt the sense of loss. My original concept was that my greatest loss is time, then I went outside the box.

  5. Tara R. says:

    I really like that you went with the POV of the clock. Very creative. I think you conveyed the feeling of loneliness and helplessness nicely.

  6. billy flynn says:

    DM, you never cease to surprise me. I’ve only done this for about 9 weeks, but each week I read your pieces and each time I am amazed at the depth of your imagination and your willingness to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone.

    I could feel the clock’s sadness as well as (her) hope that the inevitable just might be somehow be averted, but alas. Great post!

  7. holy moly. you’re amazing! such a wonderful idea to go with the pov of the clock, yet i still felt every emotion on such a personal level. poor guy. but wow, wow, wow. fantastic job with this one.

  8. jaszminedt says:

    This was a carefully written piece and well thought out.

  9. Kristy @PampersandPinot says:

    Very unique, and it offered so much to think about!

  10. Brandon says:

    Very nice. You never think of things like this. Makes you wonder if those sorts of feelings actually happen…

    Interesting piece, Steph. I liked this.

  11. strangelyd says:

    I loved this- but it gave me goosebumps. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such sadness for an object. It made me wonder if possessions could develop feelings over time what their thoughts might be, what would happen to them when they bacamee forgotten. Very cool.
    I also feel kind of guilty for the twenty things in my house right now that are in need of batteries! 🙂

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