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Frank and Margaret

Page 1

Peter Symons

They are joined; hands clasped and forearms resting on each other. They are both unaware that holes have been worn on the arms of their coats from the many years of holding their hands in this way. The way they walk has changed. Rather than walking, they shuffle. When they were young (a long, long time ago), their steps did not coordinate well, but over fifty years their steps slowly merged closer together. The same pace. The same stride. And now, being old, they shuffle.

Resting between them there is a patience and tolerance. Also acceptance. Although some years ago, just after Frank retired, there was a serious argument. The change in routine had become too much. Frank was in her hair, he interfered when he ineptly tried to help around the house. A silence grew between them. At the time, Frank felt the silence close in on him. It felt odd. It was as if it leaked from the cupboards when he reached up to get a cup for his tea, it seemed to hide in his sock drawer. He felt it sit in the corner when he was reading. When he tried to stop it by turning on the radio, he could still hear it between the voices and the music. It was there when he turned on the television. It seemed the more he tried to smother the silence, the stronger the silence became.

He was afraid that it would drive him mad.

Eventually he left the house, and his wife, to escape the silence. He drove to a nearby motel. While he was driving there he discovered it in the glove box of his car. Closing the glove box door didn’t stop the silence. His motel room was filled with it. He did not bother turning on the television. He slumped down on a chair in his room. He was afraid.

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