Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 163

The spoken word can hide many things. There’s a silence in unnecessary conversations that’s deeper than comfortable silences when no words are needed for togetherness.

Theodor Storm was quoted as saying “Ich brauche äußerliche Enge, um innerlich ins Weite zu ziehen,” which, roughly translated, means “I need outward narrowness to expand inwardly.” I have always interpreted this in two ways. First, Storm wrote almost exclusively about bourgeois settings where rules and conventions were very restrictive and ordered, and where the Other could (and would) always potentially upset the status quo, where the ordinary was touched and changed by the extraordinary; a grey canvas of normality onto which Storm (or his characters) would throw an unexpected and sudden splash of colour. Second, I have always thought that he also meant that he needed to be contained, needed to contain himself, with order and discipline and routines, so that his mind, his inner self, could actually find the peace and space to create his art. Although this is not necessarily always borne out by his private life, I feel that even some of the more extraordinary aspects of his personal life (love poems to someone he wasn’t married to, seven children with his wife, jealousy, depression, anxiety) are explosions of creativity which may otherwise have not surfaced.

Yes, a layman’s interpretation, but valid nonetheless. And it’s this which informs my take on silence (of the spoken word at least), and my need for it in order to be able to develop an inner monologue (or dialogue or multilogue depending on how many voices are in my head at any given time). It is perhaps because of this, because of my need for quiet time, for long periods without conversations or chatter, that I’m not particularly social, but that when I do decide to be social that I can come across as someone who is mostly good with people and good at communicating. But I can do this rarely – there is not enough room in my head for external words most of the time.

An odd thought for a Sunday morning, but it comes from feeling a little frazzled and worded-out (via the mouth) anyway. I do tell people (to disbelief and laughter) that I am actually very shy and inarticulate (when I speak). And it is true. I still blush when I speak in groups. I still get very hot and sweaty when I give public performances, and I get very very nervous before every radio show I do. And before you misinterpret all this – they are not negatives. I’m glad I care enough about things to get nervous and hot and tongue-tied. I just know that I frequently (and always) need my own space to charge my thinking and my writing and my person. And many other people need exactly that, too, so give them their space. They’ll talk to you when they’re ready and willing, willing being the operative word.



Martin and Aggie walk across to Lilibet, and Aggie touches her gently on her shoulder. ‘We’re going to do now,’ she says. ‘To get you home and find your kids. We’re going by car and boat because we don’t want anyone to be able to follow us.’

Lilibet gets up, pulls herself up straight, despite the lost look on her face. ‘I’m afraid,’ she says, quietly, almost inaudibly. ‘You tell me I’ve killed someone. Won’t I get punished? Even though I remember nothing?’

‘Don’t worry,’ Aggie says. ‘Nothing’s going to happen.’

‘What if we can’t find the kids?’ Lilibet says. ‘What then? What if whoever did this to me did the same to the kids?’ She looks down at her blood-stained shirt, the red on her trousers. ‘Or worse?’

‘That’s why we need to get up there as soon as possible,’ Aggie says. ‘And unseen. And we’ll take it from there.’

Lilibet shrugs. ‘If that’s what you think.’

Aggie turns to Martin. ‘I’ll meet you outside. I’m just going to try to find some clothes for Lilibet.’

‘Don’t bother,’ Lilibet says. ‘Let’s not hang about. As long as I’ve got my jacket.’ She grabs it from the back of the chair and pulls it on, zips it up. ‘There. As good as new.’ She forces a smile.

Anna blocks their path. ‘What are you doing.’

Aggies explains.

‘I think you should let me come with you,’ Anna says.

‘No need,’ Aggie says. ‘Anyway, I think they need you and Zav here. And I want you both here to look after them all. Just don’t get distracted.’

Zav starts to speak, thinks better of it.

‘You know exactly what I mean,’ Aggie says. ‘I’m not stupid. None of us are. Robert heard you, too, for God’s sake.’

Zav has the decency to blush. Anna just grins sheepishly.

‘Idiots,’ Aggie says. ‘At least you haven’t got each other shot. Yet.’

‘Sorry,’ Zav says.

‘For not getting shot?’ Aggie says.

‘No, not for that, for…’

‘I know what you mean,’ Aggie says. ‘Be in love by all means. Just don’t let your guard down.’ She grabs Lilibet’s arm by the elbow. ‘We need to get going.’

In the hall, they can hear Marit’s sobbing and screaming still going on in the music room. Lilibet stops, runs her hands through her hair, stands still. ‘Maybe I should go in there and say sorry, say I didn’t do it knowingly.’

‘Just leave it,’ Martin says. ‘You’d only make it worse.’ He pushes the front door open, almost carelessly, Aggie thinks. ‘Let’s just get out of here.’

Aggie follows him carefully, eyes everywhere, looks up to the Minster tower, makes sure she stays between it and Lilibet, shields her with her bulk. She doesn’t get a sense of danger, but stays in her protective stance anyway.

Martin stops next to a black car, presses the button for the central locking.

Lilibet shrinks back as if she’d been expecting it to explode. Aggie puts one of her huge hands on the woman’s shoulder. ‘It’s fine to be jumpy,’ she says. ‘I would be. We’ll sit in the back,’ she says to Martin.

‘Fine,’ he says. We should only be about fifty minutes anyway. Just don’t expect me to keep you entertained.’

‘I don’t expect anything from you,’ Aggie says. ‘There’s nothing to expect.’

Get notifications of new posts by email.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply