Voices by Ethan Hale

All seasons physically alter the ways in which we perceive our world. Changes such as discolored greens, smells of dampened ground and moist leaves, owe their short existence to fall. Afterwards nothing grows back the same.

During my 15th fall my brother and I witnessed with an invigorated perspective the season’s changing colors. Dismissed often to the basement, we were approved to indulge ourselves in video games. The door shutting behind us, coerced like cattle, my brother moved to hog the game console while I remained on the top step. Kneeling, bending my head sideways, I peeked through the door’s bottom crack. An empty living room, a tree outside the window, was all the door allowed me to witness. Noises of argument,
fighting, were all I could hear in our kitchen around the corner.

They couldn’t have been arguing. The rug burn pains on my knees, the colors of the tree, were the only reality I believed at the moment, yet I couldn’t help overhearing the voices. I thought I heard them shout, Whatever, It doesn’t matter, You think? and Forget it. Each brief sentence resonated through our house, discoloring the leaves, entrancing me within the spectacle.

It doesn’t matter. A calm, baritone voice, sounding as if he were trying to sell a bad product to an annoyed customer, echoed neglect, shading the leaves brown.

Whatever. A female voice, hurt, shot painful waves darkening the most vibrant leaves.

Just forget it. The male again, ignoring the emotion and feelings of the other, allowed the cold rain to sink deep within their tissues.

You think? Sharpened with hate, anger and sorrow, her words cut the leaves at their weakest spots.

Pounding at my eardrums, footsteps storming off upstairs, brought me back to self-consciousness. The hammering of business shoes on hardwood, every step cutting deep, told me my dad was en route to the basement door. Pain flooded to my numbed knees; my heart pounded harder, slower, like my body was telling me I overheard heard something I shouldn’t have.

I wanted to wait at the top stair for the door to open, Dad appearing and asking if I had heard anything. His approach nearing, I glanced back at the leaves and their failing roots. Dark, polished shoes came into vision through the crack, every step blocking out more and more light. Enough light remained streaming through to witness the leaves falling; overtaken by the weight of new colors, mixed to blackness, they struggled against the howling force of the wind until landing and crinkling on their peculiar damp splotch of brown grass.

I hurried down the stairs, almost tripping, falling, before the door opened. Curling up on my side, pretending to fall asleep over the noise of a fight between plastic and my brother’s fingers, we heard the door creep open.

You can come up now. Said a similar baritone voice.

We always stayed in the basement for a long time afterwards. Cold always flowed around the basement, and we wished Mom and Dad would have opened the door carrying blankets. We wouldn’t move even if a small fire blurred the entire room with smoke, the door always remaining shut, keeping in the haze.

My eyes closed as I listened to the continual fight between my brother and the controller. I heard the noises of swords breaking against one another, the soothing tunes of a flute-like instrument, and the pathetic, defeated cries of enemies. It all sounded fake, poorly acted out.

You can come up now, the voices, unaware of what happened to the leaves, ignoring their hidden desires, wait for the door to open, the leaves to grow back.

Add a Comment (all fields required)