lillian gish
“I’m sorry,” she said, fanning her hands out uselessly before her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said it. I know it, and I’m sorry.”

No answer. Still facing the window above the sink; arms still crossed; back still tense.

“What do you want me to say?” she asked. “What do you want me to do? How can I make it right if you won’t tell me?”

Nothing. Her stomach turned over, slowly digesting anger.

“So it’s the silent treatment, then?”

As soon as she felt the words tumble over her lips, she wished she could retrieve them, felt her hands reach out almost involuntarily as if she could physically keep the phrase back. But too late, too late.

The words hovered – trembled – popped – and then it was silence. Roaring, crushing silence, as if a pair of iron gates had descended upon her ears. “No -” she tried to say, but of course there was nothing.

Her lips moved but no corresponding sounds issued forth. She ran toward the sink, her elbow accidentally pulling down a pair of pots from the counter in her haste. They spiraled mutely to a silent floor. Her movements were all underwater, all couched in velvet for all the effect they seemed to have on the world around her.

The treatment begins thusly, she heard echo inside her head – felt, rather than heard, she corrected herself. She felt the words bubble up and press their meaning against the walls of her own brain. The end is the same as the beginning, and there is no end.

She could neither hear nor be heard; neither console nor ask for mercy. The Silent Treatment was truly underway.

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