Silent Child

Her father once broke the silence to tell her she would join the royal army when she was older.

As a woman, that meant a scout, medical, or recon troop.

The child was happy her father spoke to her. She would become strong like him. She thought her father was strong because he controlled the silence.

Her mother protested with her face, but never her voice.

At school, she learned that other children, other mothers, other fathers, other people, were not so quiet.

At school, there was no silence.

She learned that prayer was not quiet. She learned the words to prayer.

She learned about stories, some sad, some happy. She learned about color. She learned to play.

When she brought her play home, muddy and excited, as all children can be, her father struck her across the face. He struck her hard, the sound echoing off the quiet walls of their house.

She knew not to cry. Crying was not quiet.

Her father walked away. Her mother scolded her in whispers. She felt an immense heat, a painful, loud throbbing in her ear, but she did not cry.

It took her three days of quiet for the pain to stop.

When it did, her world seemed quieter than before.

Her feet did not want to behave. She dropped the pail of water.

She returned to school, and the quiet came with her.

The child grew. She grew quiet. She did not play with the other children. She studied her prayers in quiet. She drew in the dirt with sticks. She learned to read.

Then one day her father spoke to her again. He was taking her to a new school. A school for children who will join the army.

The child was happy. She thanked her father quietly.

She told her teacher she would join a new school. She said goodbye to the other children.

Her new school was far away. Her father took her on his horse. He wore his armor on this day. It was not quiet as they rode. It clicked and clanked with the clop of the horse. Her mother quietly shined it the night before, so the sunshine bounced off the side and made rainbows.

It was not loud, it was not playful, but it was not quiet.

The child was happy.

Her new school was not quiet. Her new teacher was not quiet. Her father also was not quiet. He spoke to other men with their sons. They took turns gesturing to the boys, all different sizes, some muddy, some clean, and none of them quiet.

Her father gestured to her. Nobody lingered on her long. She smiled and bowed her head. Her father went back to the boys. She sat quietly.

Her new teacher was very loud. He asked them to run from this line to that tree. So she did.

Running was loud. The wind rushed against her feet and made her fall. She tried again, and again she fell.

Her teacher asked her, climb this. She would go after the boys. The boys climbed. They were loud. They cheered. When she climbed, there was quiet. She got about halfway up, and then she fell. She fell loudly.

She held her leg. She wanted to cry.

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