The Silent Team (Short Story)

Photo by JACK REDGATE on

Written by Shelly Moore

**Warning: May be triggering. Suicidal topics.**

Westminster, Massachusetts is a quiet, quaint little quintessential New England town. In the fall, it’s like a living painting; the burnt orange, blood red, and vibrant yellow foliage that surrounds every road and every home seems to almost contain an ethereal spirit of comfort that whispers to its habitants and passersby alike, “This land is safe; protected by an ancient spell cast before life was breathed into its sacred lakes and mountains.”

If you take a left at one of the two traffic lights in town and drive down School Street; aptly named because of the elementary and middle school’s that sit on one side, while the police and fire stations, along with the Westminster Town Hall on the other, eventually you’ll reach a little stretch of road that separates the reservoir that rests at the base of Mount Wachusett.  As long as the weather permits, you’ll likely find two or three people, possibly many more if the weather is warm, fishing from the side of the road. Drive a little further on and let the reservoir fade completely from sight, and you’ll be surrounded by woods for a stretch of about five miles. Within these woods, if you know where to look, a large dam can be found.

Three days ago, I sat atop that very dam in torn jeans, black flip flops, and a black and white flannel shirt with my hair blowing in the chilled autumn wind.

I then stood, brushed the dried leaves and dirt from my bottom, and nearly jumped to my death.

It was, truth be told, the sole purpose of my visit to the dam that day.

What stopped me was the image of my children flashing into my mind after having been told of my accident. Their warm tears dampening reddened cheeks. I felt my daughter’s anger fester toward me for having left her. I felt my son’s anguish as he grew up wondering why he wasn’t enough. I felt my little dog’s sadness when he realized mama wasn’t coming home anymore for scratches and snuggles.

I picked up my keys from the cold ground and walked through the trees back to my parked car, slammed the door shut behind me, turned the music up, and rejoined society.

Getting out of bed is difficult for most people on chilled mornings when the warmth you’ve spent the night creating within your blanketed cocoon holds you as comfortably as a mother’s embrace. Getting out of bed when you have depression, PTSD, and severe social anxiety is like trying to convince Great-Grandma Nettie that gays deserve to marry and that transgendered people aren’t just confused.

I lay in bed most mornings and curse the skies for not giving me the option to take my own life.

I’m pro-choice in all things, including, but not limited to, the choice to with your life what you will.

It’s the only thing you truly own.

Unpopular opinion: I think suicide prevention hotlines and walkathons are ridiculous and infringe on our basic human rights.

Now I’ve pissed you off.

I’ve known people who have offed themselves over the years. Close friends. Family members. I suppose I’ve always looked at death a little differently than most people.

I believe death is as natural as birth. We are born into this world, and we die and are recycled in various ways, just like everything else on the planet. We only fear death because we were cursed with minds that most living creatures do not possess; minds that are capable of thought outside of how to survive.

We think about everything. We think about our pasts, our futures, and sometimes our present.

We think about other humans, how they live, how they think, how they act, and how they feel. We think about our past mistakes and play them on loop to punish ourselves on repeat. We think about the what-ifs.

Deer, opossums, and coyotes don’t think about the what-ifs.

Trees likely don’t think about their misshapen branches, and whether the birds, bees, or other trees will judge them for their imperfections.

The mind of a human being is a beautiful, infinite, torturous thing that can create and destroy simultaneously.

Mine is heavy, and in need of a reset.

This morning I lay in bed and I put my earbuds in my ears and I push play to listen to a morning meditation that is supposed to help me feel more at peace. It’s probably the sixteenth or seventeenth time I’ve listened to it, and I haven’t felt peaceful yet, so I call bullsugar, but I do it anyway because nothing can hurt at this point.

The man’s soothing voice tells me about how we need to remember we are supposedly God’s top creation, and how anything we can see in the screen of our mind, we can hold in the palm of our hand; all while ocean waves crash in the background and seagulls cry.

He counts down from ten, and tells me when he gets to the number one I will be deeply, deeply relaxed, but not asleep. He tells me my mind has been weighed down by the stressors of life, and that I can release those stressors by visualizing myself breathing them out of my mouth and into tiny bubbles, which I will then send up, up, up into the atmosphere so that the Universe can take my troubles and transmute them into usable energy.

Here, Universe. Take my memories of rape and emotional abuse and turn them into fireflies or fucking flowers, or whatever floats your boat. Pluck them from my brain like the petals from a daisy and set them on fire for all I care.

Take my insecurities as a mother, a sister, a friend, a daughter, and a human being from my mind and turn them into rain to pour down onto the wildfires ravaging our countries west coast.

Take my deepest, darkest feelings of being unlovable, push-aside-able, and unforgivingly forgettable and turn them into fields of wheat to feed the starving.

Take my deep inner rage and use it to fuel the fire of passion that the revolutionary men and women are using right now to change the world for the better, because I sure as hell ain’t using it for anything worth a penny.

The feeling of warm, wet tears falling from the corners of my eyes into my hairline as I lay with my head on my pillow is one I’ve grown quite accustomed to.

The man begins to count from one back up to ten, and when he reaches then I will have new life breathed into my soul, he promises. He says I will wake feeling energized, and ready to take on whatever comes my way on this day with my newfound, uncompromisable energy and a bright smile.

The recording ends, and I choose to not yet open my eyes to face his lies.

I lay in my warm cocoon feeling the gentle breeze from the ceiling fan above me drying the wet trails left behind on my temples.

I do not feel energized. I do not feel ready to take on the day, and most of all, I do not feel like smiling.

With my eyes still closed tightly, I began to pray a prayer that only I could hear, when suddenly I felt someone grab my left foot over the blankets. I assumed it was my daughter, so I opened my eyes ready to wish her a good morning, but to my surprise the area on the side of the bed where she should have been standing was empty.

Telling myself I must have had a muscle spasm or something that mimicked the feeling of a human hand holding my foot, I closed my eyes again, and again instantly felt the unmistakable pressure of a human hand – holding my shin this time, just slightly further up my leg. It was a comforting hold, as if someone were there with me trying to tell me it’ll be okay.

I didn’t dare open my eyes this time.

I said aloud, “I feel you, but I do not feel comforted, though I appreciate the gesture.”

I smelled a sweet smell pass my nose; not perfume, but that of maybe sweet bloomed honeysuckle in the spring mixed with the dampness of earth.

“Who’s there?” I asked, so numbed by my despair that fear was the furthest thing from my mind. Only those who have been there will understand.

“I am here, sweet girl,” a voice whispered inside of my mind.

Startled, my eyes opened and once again scanned an empty room.


I closed them again.

“Grandma?” I asked shakily.

“Not quite, but if it makes you feel comforted to call me that, you can,” the voice said.

I swallowed hard.

“Who are you then?” I asked quietly.

“I am the one who has been sent to comfort you; do not be afraid. I’ve always been with you,” the voice said.

“A guardian angel?” I asked.

“If it makes you feel comforted to call me that, you can,” it said.

“I would feel comforted to know who I am sharing this space with right now,” I said, trying not to sound entitled but failing.

“You have called me Anara in other lifetimes; you can call me Anara now if it comforts you,” it said. The voice was growing louder in my mind and felt feminine.

“Anara. Thank you, Anara. It does comfort me to know your name,” I said, unsure of what to say next. “Anara, I’ve prayed many times to hear you, or to hear anyone… just to know I’m not alone. Why do you come now?”

“Sweet girl, now is the time you need me most, and the veil has thinned enough for my voice to finally be heard,” she said.

“Anara, I do not want to seem ungrateful for the life that’s been given to me, but I am really struggling,” I cried to this voice in my head, beginning to feel a little crazy.

“I know. We know. We see you when you are hurting,” she said.

“It’s unfair that I can’t even remove myself from this life without hurting them. What is the point of all this suffering?”

I felt warm hands again hold my left foot, and then felt hands holding my right foot, hands on my shins, my thighs, my arms, my shoulders, and on my head. It felt as if a dozen people were surrounding me with their hands on my body, but it did not feel intrusive, nor scary. Small waves of what I can only describe as electricity flowed through their invisible hands and into my body. It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, but it was quite foreign.

“What’s going on?” I asked nervously.

“We are restoring the pieces of you that have been fractured during this lifetime,” she said.

“Like realigning my chakras?” I asked.

“Yes, something like that, sweet girl,” she replied with a voice full of love.

I suddenly began seeing my past played on a panoramic screen behind my eyelids. I saw my lonely childhood; my parents leaving me with strangers on a near daily basis. I saw my cousin’s friend telling me not to tell anyone about our game of house we played where he touched me under my dress. I saw myself at seventeen, so starved for love and affection that I allowed a boy to take my innocence against my will. I saw my parents fighting. I saw my dad throw a brick through the back window of my mother’s car. I saw the drugs and the alcohol. I saw my daughter’s father leave me because I wasn’t pretty enough for him. I saw my ex-husband take away my parental rights through lies I couldn’t be there to defend myself from. I saw myself lying in bed wishing I owned a gun to hold to my heart and make it all end… more than once. I saw the worthlessness, the pain, and the suffering as if they were a very realblack figure attached to my backside that I carried with me everywhere I went.

“Please make it stop… I can’t bare it anymore,” I cried out.

“Ssshh, sweet girl. We are putting your pieces back together,” she said.

My body shuddered and I sobbed.

“I don’t want to live anymore! Please take me from here,” I pleaded.

I felt a warm hand cover my forehead, and a kiss on my nose.

“Ssshh, sweet girl,” she said, “you are stronger than you think.”

Suddenly all sound was cut from the room as if I had gone deaf.

I opened my eyes.

Around me stood four men and four women of varying ages. The woman at my head, Anara, had long, wavy grey hair that reached her waist. She was smiling down at me.

“Do not be afraid,” she said without her lips parting.

We were no longer in my bedroom, and in fact, we weren’t in a room at all. I saw no walls, no floor, and no ceiling. It was white; pure white, as far as the eye could see. Each of the individuals that surrounded me had a faint glow about them. They all smiled at me as if they’ve known me for countless lifetimes. I wanted to recognize them, but couldn’t, although some did have vaguely familiar characteristics. The man that held my right ankle wore black-rimmed glasses like my grandfather had worn. The woman on my left side with her hands on my belly had light green eyes like my grandmother.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“Sshh, sweet girl. Rest now,” she smiled, and I felt my eyes grow heavy once again and close shut.

The moment my eyes shut I began seeing visions on the panoramic screen behind my eyelids once again, but this time of my children.

I saw the tumultuous birth of my daughter; we both nearly died that day. I saw my mom praying for us, and I saw this same team of ethereal men and women standing at my bedside that day with their hands on the doctors and nurses around me.

I saw the birth of my son, and watched as I laid on the surgical table crying for my mother. Again, this familiar group appeared around me; Anara at my head with her hands cradling my cheeks, and the others comforting both myself and the doctors and nurses who worked diligently on me. I saw the familiar man in the black-rimmed glasses hold my son in his hands and smile with love that can only come from family.

I watched as this team of strangers surrounded my bedside the first day I had wished for a gun to hold to my heart; holding me and pushing away the dark figure trying to overtake me.

I watched as this team, my team, sat beside me on the dam in Westminster with their ethereal arms around me.

I had always felt so god damn alone, but I wasn’t.

I wept.

“I had… I had no idea you were there with me,” I cried with my eyes closed tightly.

“You aren’t supposed to know,” she said, “but we’re always there, sweet girl. Especially when you need us the most.”

“Thank you,” I said, and I felt her hand lift from my brow and her lips press once again on the tip of my nose.

I opened my eyes and found myself once again in the comfort of my warm bed within the four walls of my own bedroom, and although my eyes told me I was all alone once again, I now knew better.

{The End.}

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