Monday Motivations : An end to silence

Wooden staircase

Image : Pixabay


Silence was the melody to Nancy’s life.

No doors were permitted to bang in their house – no radio played. The windows were locked tight even through summer’s moist, thundery days, in case a neighbour’s harsh bray or the sound of children clanking sticks along the railings should penetrate inside.

Her movements were always smooth, measured, design to be quiet – ballet with no accompaniment.

The routes from kitchen to hall, from hall to stairs and on, upward through their skewed box of a house, were well worn zigzags from mats to rugs to runner. Her weight would shift as she reached for the correct step, avoiding the loose boards and leaning newel posts that prised such distress from Mother.

Occasionally – years ago – Nancy would be in the middle of washing dishes or scrubbing clothes on the washboard, lost in the soothing, repetitive action and a melody would spring to her lips, escaping in a reedy whistle. But she’d soon learned that the tunes were safer kept inside where they couldn’t cause harm. Mother didn’t like music.

One day, the silence was broken.

A sound like air battling through water pipes, shuddering through the house, making the boards flex and newel posts creak, making the pictures shudder on their hooks, frames tapping on the walls like a hundred eager fingers. It came from upstairs, from the attic, where Mother paced and paced in stocking feet.

There was a thump, a tumble of heavy objects on the floor above, then nothing.

Nancy wasn’t sure exactly what had caused the noise but she knew one thing.

It heralded the end of silence.



Written for Esther Newton’s Monday Motivations. This week there was a choice between DISASTER, LOVE and SILENCE. I of course chose SILENCE. See here to join in.


24 thoughts on “Monday Motivations : An end to silence

  1. Nicely done. Love that first line, especially, the idea that silence can be a melody, the through-line of your life’s song. What an awful prison to live in, to restrict your own life so much to avoid someone else’s ire. And what a dramatic ending to the silence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s going to be hard for her to adjust I think. I imagine she’ll be institutionalised and find it hard to live a relaxed, easy life. Thank you, Joy for your lovely comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s hope so. I suspect she’ll feel scared of the world – at least for a while – the same as someone being freed from an intitution would be scared. Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Stephanie

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Had the same thought about the first line as those who’ve already commented, it’s a great one. This is an excellent piece of flash fiction, but as I was reading I found myself wanting it to be the beginning of a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much Walt. I wasn’t sure whether that opening line would read as nonsense to other people, but it seems I hit the right tone with it after all. So many of these shorts I feel could stetch to something longer, some of the characters feeling as if they have some depth and potential already. Thanks again and thanks for reading 🙂


      1. That varies on how quickly the ide comes after seeing the prompt. Some take only 45 minutes, others up to two hours, depending on my rewriting and faffing with word order and editing. Too long, I’m sure. I’d have that novel finished by now if I wasn’t so obsessed by flash fiction, I know that much 🙂


      2. Ha! Love that word 🙂 It’s true the ideas generally come pretty quickly, though the direction the characters will take might not come so easily. I’d say your pieces are more complex and layerd than mine, so perhaps it’s not surprising they take longer 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Elissaveta! What a lovely comment to leave. I’m glad you stumbled across Word Shamble and very glad you enjoyed the story. All the best 🙂


  3. Wonderful piece and fantastic lady line. I get the sense this is not a bad thing for the girl, she’s been longing for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Helen. That’s a lovely comment – I’ll cherish that 🙂 I like this idea too, of the relationship between the two women and the daughter’s possible escape. Set in the 1920s or just before the Great War perhaps? So many ideas to ponder. Thank you again – you made my day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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