The Silent Game

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by: SheHopes

Every morning a new game begins. The rules are always the same. We cannot make a noise. The prize never changes—you get to live another day.

It had been two months since silence fell like a guillotine. I'm not sure why the world became silent. All I know is that there's something out there hunting us humans and it only finds us when we make noise. Our survival has become dependent on us playing the silent game.

Our feet are bare as we walk along the sidewalk now lined with overgrown grass. We're low on supplies and Nick, my husband, decided it was time to visit the grocery store which was abandoned but still had canned goods. I glance around the once pristine neighborhood and see the now familiar sight of abandoned cars with expired inspection stickers littering the road.

Nick gestures for me and Jerry, our son, to stay close. Before we enter the grocery store, he holds up a jar of vapor-rub which we dab under our noses. It doesn't kill the overwhelming scent of rotten meat but it does dull it. We walk inside the dark building with only a flashlight to guide us. We pass a large display of rubber balls and Jerry breaks free from my grasp and runs towards them. He pulls a red ball out of the metal crate, causing the other balls to cascade downward in a symphony of thuds as they bounce against the linoleum floor. Nick's eyes flash towards mine and he grabs our son before we both sprint towards the kitchen appliances. We can hear a rumbling in the distance and he points towards an oversized freezer. We jump in and he closes the door above us.

We're huddled together in the large freezer, my arms around Jerry and Nick's arms around me. My lips are pressed together on Jerry's head and I'm rubbing circles in his back, hoping this won't give him nightmares later. A sudden wind roars around us and the freezer we're hiding in shakes. Moments feel like centuries before the rumbling stops.

Nick slowly lifts the freezer door. Whatever was here is gone. We quietly exit the freezer and my heart feels as though it's caught in my throat but I force a smile. Jerry is watching me with his curious brown eyes and I don't want him to know that I'm afraid. I don't want him to know that I'm not sure how much longer I can survive living in fearful silence. I want to scream and cry but I know I can't. My husband grabs my hand and gives it a soft squeeze, reminding me that we're in this together. I wipe away the single tear that's quietly running down my cheek as Jerry tugs at my shirt.

Jerry mouths the words, "Are we still playing the silent game?"

A sudden rush of emotion bombards me as I look at the two people I love most and I nod. If being quiet meant having these two around, I would stay silent forever. 

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