“It’s raining,” Car said hopefully. Her family made no attempt at recognizing her or what she had said. But they never had before, so why should now be different?
An hour passed, and the rain continued. Still, Car’s family sat around their kitchen table doing what they had done for the past ten years. They wrote.
There were pages upon pages of written papers surrounding every nook and cranny of Car’s home. It was a sea of ink that never ended. There were pages that had been written on so much, they were unreadable. Yet still her parents and sister sat and wrote.
They would not let her read what they wrote. If Car approached them or tried to take one of their pages from them, they would snatch it away. If she were persistent, they would tear their work to shreds. Car was not allowed to read their writings, their masterpieces, their souls.
Car was not a writer. She had little imagination, she did not enjoy reading, and she had no way with words. When she picked up a pencil, she felt only a piece of plastic that made her hand hurt after a while. She did not feel warmth or power in her fingertips.
There was no time in Car’s memory when her parents had slept or eaten in front of her. Perhaps they did these things while she slept, but she had awoken in the middle of the night more than once only to hear three pens scratching away at the paper they so craved to fill.
Only once had Car’s mother ever spoken to her. Car had been nine, and she had said to her mother, “Did I do something wrong? Why do you ignore me and write all the time?”
Car’s mother had actually ceased writing and looked up. “Have you ever written?” she had said, her voice cracking from such little use over the years.
When Car shook her head, her mother had answered, “That’s why.”
So Car sat, among paper and ink, and watched her family write away their lives into nothing. When she had been smaller, she had hoped that they would run out of paper, but there seemed to be more than enough of the substance everywhere. Paper was stacked against the walls of their home, it lined the floor, it piled in mountains over their belongings.
Car had realized long ago that her parents paid her no attention. She could do anything she wanted, which included reading the paper that was so abundant in their home.
But the papers were unreadable. The words written on anything she found in the house had been written in such a hurry that Car could make no sense of it. It was as though they had so much to say that one lifetime of writing was not enough.
The rain continued now, falling more quickly than before. Car looked around at the smoldering wreck of her home, which could barely be seen but for all of the paper, and her eyes filled with tears.
“What is it?” she screamed, “What do you have to say that is so important?”
Slowly, ever so slowly, her mother, father, and sister looked up. Then they smiled and put down their pens.
“We thought you’d never ask,” Car’s mother said.
Shaking, Car stood up, walked to the table, and sat down next to her sister, where a pen had been laid out for her years ago. Together, the four family members picked up their pens and began to write.
It was the silence that echoed through their home that spoke now; it was the silence that made them write. No one spoke, no one moved, except for the constant shaking of four hands holding four pens writing four stories. Their stories would never end; the families to come after them would sit in these chairs and hear this silence and pick up these pens and write the same story, the same story that had no ending.
But for now, it was Car’s turn, and her story had the most wonderful beginning of them all, for she was the last one to begin, and she had the most to say.