I’m not really keen on being used for custody battles. I find the proceedings so strange. One parent holding a child hostage from the other while they air all the ill-willed whispers behind backs and undercovers with other lovers. However, these are my primary assignments and the largest source of income from a Clairaudient. I hear their lies. I hear their truths. Their anger. Their woe. Their flaws. But when I open my mouth to report, it’s their silence I hear the loudest.
Fortunately, I don’t have to take a stand, but a seat. I’m sitting with the comforting click-clack of Legos and the calm motion of still growing bones. The gentle tattoo of a heart too young to be leverage in a love story come undone made taking this assignment worth it. Children have such unique rhythms, from the way their blood rushes when they skitter through the house to the nanosecond inhale just before they burst into giggles and laughter. Each child is an immaculate performance of a great symphony that is forgotten somewhere behind us. Many clairaudients will tell you that children are perfect pieces of music for our sensitive ears. I still believe this to an extent. But… Working in custody battles altered that.
As I sat and listened to Amy play, I closed my eyes so I could hear the full spectrum. I tuned out the clatter of Legos. I ignored the soft breaths and frustrated gritting of teeth when a piece was stubborn. The tuning fork strikes and I don’t hear Amy at play, but the silence between.
I wanna see daddy…
Her fingertips make a rough sound as they rub anxiously, seeking a hand to hold. A child’s hand should not be so calloused.
Mommy won’t listen to me anymore.
My head tilted at the staccato of teeth grinding harder. A soft hiss laced into it and I could hear the throb and pulse of bruises hidden beneath corduroy. I gasped and opened my eyes. She sniffled and shifted. I heard that pulse again. She looked back at me, only just noticing me in the room. I smiled as best I could and hoped she knew I meant it.
Amy awkwardly drew her legs closer under herself. “Is… daddy coming?”
“Yes. Once I leave.”
“How come you’re here? Are you gonna ask me a buncha stuff, too?”
“I’m just here to listen to all those little noises you’re making.”
Her eyes widened. She scrunched her face into an expression I couldn’t identify but was certain it didn’t belong on a child.
I didn’t make any noise!
I covered my ear to block out the undertone and cleared my throat calmly.
“You don’t have to say anything. I’m just here to listen. All of you makes a noise, you see. Even your hair growing.”
She fidgeted. “Can… Can everybody hear me?”
I shook my head. “Just me. I have really good hearing, you see.”
“Oh.” She relaxed and went back to her Legos. “I don’t think mommy can hear that good.”
“Is there something you don’t want her to hear?”
Amy made a noncommittal sound and went back to building. “She just doesn’t like it when I make a lot of noise.”
There. Between the beats of her words, I hear the fear and pain. The silence. Amy wouldn’t talk again. I didn’t need her to. I heard the tells in her body and the unspoken within her wavelengths.
I took out my ear mufflers and placed them into each ear so that only normal sounds could enter. I got up and went to Amy, feeling my stomach drop when she physically tensed. I sat down across from her and picked up some Legos. I began to build as well, stacking a tower. I’m not very creative with my hands.
“My mother hated a lot of noise too. Don’t worry. Some day you can make all the noise you want. Someone will be there to make it with you.”
Amy looked up at me, a bit of a half-smile peeking through the melancholia.
“I like making noise. Dad lets me make all the noise!”
I smile. “Then we’ll make sure he can let you.”
I made a lot of noise for Amy. I made even more when I went to the lawyers and their clients. I made a lot of noise when I said what I heard and watched Amy’s father turn so red that I could hear his violence through the mufflers. I made even more with my silence as the mother called me a lying bitch and had to be restrained. My silence was loud when I stood beside Amy’s father as he filed a police report immediately and pat his back as he cried against me and thanked me. I didn’t want to be thanked for this. I didn’t want to be thanked for the medical exams and delicate interrogation that would come afterwards for Amy. So instead, I smiled quietly as Amy hugged her dad and asked why he was crying into her hair. I kept my mufflers in as I left them in their own score and hoped that it healed them.
My ears remained plugged even as I filed my report with Garret and I ignored the sounds of the other Clairs. The mufflers don’t work against other Clairs and I hated it sometimes. I drove home with only the sound of the road and the hum of my car. No music, lest it bring the day back. I don’t remove them until I’m all the way up the stairs to my loft and all the way into my kitchen where Kanae sat doing her homework. Only then did I leave my mufflers on the counter. I was already smiling as I walked to her and gently touched her shoulder. I squeezed her comfortingly when she tensed and whipped around. I smiled wider and moved my fingers in the motions of her symphony.
She grinned at me and the most beautiful sounds erupted from her as she moved her fingers and hands.
*Welcome home! Want to know what I learned in science today?*
Kanae’s symphony cleanses all others within me, even the silence between the notes.
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See you in Case 03: Into the Quiet of the Stream – Shiloh
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