My father tells me the constant rush of water through our town is the whoosh of the world going round. The snow in the mountains never stops falling, never stops melting, never stops raging into the valley. Stern and roiling. Like the white noise of God and reason, fathers fighting.
Silence in this town is never silent. Even now, when my own son asks why we’re leaving, I don’t hear him at first over the tinnitus of the river. We’ve never known anything but this town and this churning—this turning of the world—so the question has burrs. Why should we leave, when we have everything we need here? Except silence.
“And where?” he shouts. “Where to?”
“The moon,” I say, forgetting my son hangs on my every word.
The next morning my son brings a list to the breakfast table: “provisions”. He says he’ll share his list with me since I probably haven’t thought of making one myself, and he’s right. My mind is well beyond the town, but my bags are still in the hall closet. Empty. I don’t even know what I’d take.
If I’m honest, I haven’t figured out where we’re going. I know nothing of the world except that its turning is relentless and loud, but there must be a place where silence is softer, where I can hear my thoughts parsed from the grammar of Providence.
My son lifts a two-quart mason jar onto the table, pats the lid. “Air!” he says. It’s the first provision on his list. A good one for the moon. We’ll have to use it judiciously.
Best air in the world, my grandfather used to say. Negative ions. Next to the river. Said standing close refreshed his soul. I’m not sure I could explain what a soul is if my son were to ask, but he’d never ask. Would I even hear it through this thunder?
“Animal Crackers!” he shouts and shoves a box, less than half full, onto the table next to the jar of air. “We can make more,” he adds, reading my mind, because he’s seen me and my father make more cows from cows. Pigs from pigs.
We’ve always been farmers. Making more is just part of who we are. It’s in the blood that thunders from father to son, from son to son.
“The river!” My son holds out his hand, a puddle rippling in the dimple of his palm like an alpine lake. He bends his ear to it and listens. “I can hear it,” he says then gingerly holds his hand out to me. “Can you hear it?”
A slightly different version was originally published in Pure Slush
Christopher Allen is the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press, 2018). His work has appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2019, Booth, Split Lip Magazine, and Longleaf Review, as well as in many other journals and anthologies. He is the editor/publisher of SmokeLong Quarterly.
Submit Your Stories
Always free. Always open. Professional rates.