I returned to school feeling restless.  I wandered down to the common room after dropping my bags.  I found it empty so I watched television, changing channels as I found nothing of interest.

             “Hey, Ethan.”  A voice said from behind me.  I turned to see my friend Erin leaning against the doorframe.

            “Oh, hey.”

            “You look bored.”

            “I am.”  I laughed.

            “Want to see something cool?  Get your coat.”  Erin said with a smile.

            When we got back, I wrote this.

To Speak

 

I talk

I ask questions

I talk a lot

I give answers

I talk too much

I reassure

I talk to a lot of people

I encourage

I talk to friends and strangers and family and enemies

I explain

I talk long into the night

I debate

I talk using big words and lots of adjectives

I offer polite amenities because they are expected

I think maybe I’ll die talking

 

When that day comes

Whether it is a question on my lips

Or a final answer

Or a joke

Is up to God.

 

If God wanted to be cruel, He will wait until I am in mid-sentence, so another thing will be left unsaid.

 

For, though I am always talking, I never say very much.

 

I have trouble saying “I am angry” when I am angry

I have trouble saying “I love you” when I love

I have trouble saying “I am happy” when I am happy

I never say the things that really matter.  I don’t know how.

 

I find it bitter irony that I can talk and talk all day and fill people’s ears with inanities, yet when I truly have something to say, I am left with silence and cannot express a single thought or feeling.

 

I see strangers everywhere

            At the mall

                        At church

                                    At school

                                                At my home

Strangers who were once friends and family

I want to say

I love you

I miss you

What is happening to us?

Why don’t we talk?

I’m sorry

A second chance…

 

But I can’t say anything.  I just talk.

 

“Hi, how are you?  That’s good.  What have you been up to lately?  Me?  Oh, I’ve been busy.  Same old, same old.  Working hard, staying out of trouble, you know me.”

 

But they don’t.  They don’t know me at all.  We are strangers.

 

We are strangers

And if I tried to explain it would be like two people in a crowded market

Speaking in unfamiliar languages

Shouting to make themselves heard

As if understanding comes with more volume

And they get angrier and angrier because the other person doesn’t understand

And they never will.

They’re speaking different languages.

 

I cannot find the right words.

 

For instance:

 

We run through new fallen snow and hear our shuffling footsteps

Shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle

Smiling like children, we race

Shuffle shuffle shuffle

We tread in another’s footprints

Shuffle shuffle

To leave as much snow as possible pure and untouched

Shuffle

 

It was so beautiful

A world blanketed in soft white purity

New and fresh and clean

A blank sheet of paper waiting

Waiting for someone to make a picture or a story

The world seemed like it was starting over

A fresh page.

 

We climb over a metal railing and run along the side of the Manor

“Come on”

Erin smiles like a school girl and gestures for me to follow

“Over here”

We go around the corner and she leads me to a black metal staircase

Up and up and up

Each step is covered in a thick dusting of snow

Like white icing on dark chocolate cake

We reach the rooftop and look out over the valley and over the trees and over the world

Down and down and down

 

And it’s all so beautiful

I wonder if God felt this way looking down on Creation, when He said

“IT IS GOOD”

fresh and clean and new and pure

the sky is orange, clouds and snow reflecting streetlights make it so

and the air seems filled with magic and music

Beauty.

 

I look at Erin, with her auburn curls and black coat and school girl smile,

And I want to say to her how beautiful it is, this world so new and fresh, how it makes me feel like it could be anything I want it to be, or make myself anything I want to be, how maybe I could start afresh with myself, like a blank page or a field of perfect, white untrodden snow.  But instead, all I say is “Wow.”

Just “Wow.”

For a moment I knew what God felt and all I can say is “Wow.”

 

I am in love with a girl who must remain nameless.

I’m not supposed to talk about her

My heart demands it be expressed

So I compromise, I cannot speak so I write

Only I will not write her name, because names have power

Even writing them seems like speaking, and when you speak someone’s name you put them into the room, into the world,

Even if they are far away, their name brings them close to you

And we are not close right now.

 

I wish I could show her the world from the top of the Manor

I wish I could explain how the page can be fresh

We can make it anything we want it to be

That I can rise above my past and my fear

The same way the stairs raise us above the trees

I wish I could explain “IT IS GOOD”

And how I can be good too

If only I could have a fresh page, a second chance, a new beginning

But right now we’re not speaking.

 

I am afraid we will never speak again.

So I speak to stars and snow and sky and paper because I cannot speak to anyone else.

But I will.

I will stop talking and start saying things that matter.

Just as soon as I find a way past the wall of silence between my feelings and the world.

I will speak and it will fall, like the trumpets and shouts that knocked over Jericho.

And I will walk into the world and we will be new and pure. 

A fresh page.

I finished writing this, remembering in my heart what it was like to praise God.

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