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"The Vacuum of Space"

by Pamela Walsh-Holte 3 months ago in history
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That is her mind

"The Vacuum of Space"
Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

"Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space", or so they say.

Contemplating this she thought, does this mean a scream makes no noise if released in a vacuum of space? She concluded that it's the silent screams that are the loudest! Well it is for her anyway!

The screams that echo inside her head from somewhere deep in the vacuum of space that is her mind, that she unwittingly rented space too over the years of her life. Implanted there by situations that were out of her control and beyond her ability to refuse entry. Those things that she can not unsee, nor unhear! Not to make light of the screams that echo from her soul, that accompany the painful mistakes of her past.

She is 7-years-old and she goes to bed nightly with the Vietnam War as her bedtime story. Unable to not, she listens to the newscast as she falls asleep. The newscaster recounts the number of life's lost as the sound of bombs and gunfire emulate her room, she screams, screams only she can hear within the vacuum of space that is her mind.

She is 11-years-old and her neighbor returns from the hospital happily showing off her new baby boy, she is so proud. They have all anticipated his arrival and share in her joy. Just a few days later there is a frantic banging on the front door of her home, the neighbor, crying out to her mother that something is wrong with her baby, she holds her son's tiny body out, as her mom takes him in her arms, he breaths his last breath. She screams a silent scream that takes its place in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

She can not get the sight out of her 14-year-old head of the cover picture on one of the more prominent magazines of the 70's displayed in her neighborhood store. An 8-year-old girl runs down the street in a war torn Viet Nam, she is naked, her village was hit by napalm dropped by US Troops, causing her clothes to ignite in flames, she has stripped them off her slight body, her younger brother, expressing the same terror, runs just in front of her. The younger sister follows behind looking stunned and confused. Their Cousin holds her sister's hand while American soldiers follow up in the back. She wonders, where are the parents of these children? And she screams a silent reverberating scream in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

Kim Phuc and her siblings and cousins after being hit with a napalm bomb 19

She is 16-years-old, a student in her history class, Mr. Dombrowski is her teacher and he is showing the class a rather crude looking weapon he made when he was just 15-years-old. A tree limb approximately 3-feet long, on one end a large rock nestles in the Y of the cut branch, he has secured this rock with a leather strap meant to hold no matter what force comes against it. "This is the weapon that I made, the weapon I carried as a 15-year-old boy escaping the Nazis" he tells them.

As much as she doesn't want to hear about the horror of it all she is enthralled by his bravery, as he graphically relives how he crawled through mine fields on his belly, a belly that had not eaten and cried out in pain at a level he feared would alert the enemy to his whereabouts, he crawls over mounds of his people that the Nazi Army has starved, shot, or used for medical experiments, then tossed into a mass grave, lye has been thrown over them.

He can hear the moans of the less fortunate, those who have not been given the blessing of death, the moans that he prays will soon be silent. He inches his way, forcing himself to lay perfectly still, holding his breath he prays night will fall before another load of lye becomes his blanket. She screams a silent scream. A scream that shakes her to her bones. This scream that wants to deny it's need to be, that erupts every time she see's a black and white film of the atrocities of this war. No matter how fast she changes the station or flips the page she can not avoid what lay in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

At times, she unwittingly finds herself staring at the familiar media picture of the nuclear blasts that her country released upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki in retaliation for the attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. It sickens her, two bombs, two she sobs! These screams are harder to contain as they gain residency and linger in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

The first of two nuclear bombs the USA deployed on Japan. .

She is just out of high school and two of the most beautiful and popular girls of her class have been murdered. Murdered by serial killer Ted Bundy, he had approached them at Lake Sammamish on a hot summer day were Denise is accompanied by friends, she leaves them just long enough to go to the restroom.

He wears a fake cast on his arm and asks her to help him load his bike on his car, being who she is, she agrees. As they approach the yellow Volkswagen Bug she notices there is no back seat, before she can run he snaps handcuffs on her wrists and cuffs her to a steal bar he has welded to the floor in place of the back seat. He returns two hours later and uses the same ploy to abduct his second victim, a young woman her school friends are familiar with. Neither of them are seen alive again.

This writer did not provide an image of Ted Bundy as she desires to not add to his notoriety

From a place deep within her very being come the screams. Long silent screams, she screams, and she screams, screams that are only silenced by the vast vacuum of space that is her mind.

She is 18-years-old, she has just gave birth to the first person she truly loves far more than herself. She is taken aback, her baby's father has punched her in the face with the force of a prize fighter, she is shocked and stunned she has done nothing to provoke this. she doesn't understand! When she protests he increases his level of abuse. Splitting her lips and eye brows of her beautiful face with his blows. It's a strange unfamiliar scream and it terrorizes her as it makes it's way in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

She is 20 years old. She fears sleeping, he has taken to breaking in her home, he silently turns out all lights, creeps in her bedroom and begins inflicting his battery while she lay sleeping, she can't see, it is so dark. She screams silently, knowing if she releases the scream to the world it would be his cue to escalate his battery, he tears at her nightwear and takes what he feels is his, she does not respond, the silent scream in the vacuum of space that is her mind is only silenced by the sounds of her daughter's shrill childlike screams as she witnesses the scene from her crib. She want's this to end, she wants to comfort her child. But first she must endure the consequences of her lack of response, she screams long and repetitively in the vacuum of space that is her mind. Some how these screams allow her to remove herself from reality for the moment. She is ashamed, embarrassed, and broken. She doesn't understand!

She is 33-years old and she sits holding her fathers hand. Her father who she has grown so close in the last seven years since they established a relationship. She holds back the scream that is building as she takes in the man that lay before her. The man who has been emaciated and ravished by cancer to the point she barely recognizes him. How will she live without her dad? He fights so hard to hang on. She knows she must tell him, tell him that it's okay to go, that he will get to see all the loved ones that are waiting for him. as she does this he takes his last breath. She can no longer hold the scream at bay, it has taken on a life of it's own, As it bounces like a pin ball within the confines of her body, her tears become it's cover, as it takes it's place in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

She is 39-years-old when "You have a call on line 3" it's directed at her, it's a close friend of hers asking if she read the morning paper, "there has been a shooting and you need to call family and see if it was him" he tells her. She had read the article, the victim had been airlifted to one of her communities major hospitals. As she read the article she went into complete and total denial. It couldn't be her husband, the name was close but not correct. She dials and dials and when she finally reaches her husbands Aunt. "Yes, it was him honey". in shock she asks which hospital he's in, "I'm sorry, he didn't make it honey". She screams! and she screams, she screams in the vacuum of space that is her mind, she continues to scream, and scream, a silent scream only she can hear.

She is 43-years-old, it's the morning of 9/11/01, she woke to the TV she had fallen asleep watching the night before, as she rubs the sleep from her eyes the screen on her TV comes into focus, just as a commercial airplane hits the World Trade Center mid flight! Black, unforgiving, smoke billows from the impact. It's chaos as she listens to the newscaster "New York is under attack, terr0rists have hit Tower One of the Twin Towers". "America we are under attack", in disbelief she sits there unable to tear herself from the TV; not even to release her bladder. Frozen, immobile, ears ringing, as if time has stopped, she watches.

She watches as scene after horrific scene plays out on the screen, people are running through the streets covered in gray ash and building material, stunned, blank looks, on their faces, eyes wide with horror, as they cling to one another. A short time later, to her disbelief, a second plane hits Tower Two of the World Trade Center, she feels as if she has left her body, this can't be real. The newscaster confirms the reality of it all, he seems to be in as much shock as she is, as he announces the assault in real time. And she screams, screams, and screams as each horrific and heroic act plays out over the following days, with each broadcast she screams while silently they take their place in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

Actual picture of the evil in the smoke

It's 2011, she's 53-years old, She's enjoying a warm spring night with her children when the ring of her phone disrupts the laughter in her world. "Hello, this is Sargent Williams of the EPD, we need you to come to your mom's apartment she has died and we need you to identify her body". She screams aloud for her sister as her world falls apart and is forever changed. As she makes her way to her mothers home the only things that are real are the screams engulfing the vacuum of space that is her mind.

She is met by an officer who leads the way to her mother's bedroom. "Oh Momma", she hears herself, Her mother lay on the floor next to her bed, Everything is surreal as her sister moves past her and throws herself on top of their mother, "Mom, mom, I am so sorry Mom, I love you Mom". The officers inform them they can wait no longer and everyone has to leave now. She can't recall identifying her mom. She will never forget the scream, the scream, a long mournful unforgiving scream that started in her belly and some how contained it's self in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

It's 10/1/2017 she is 59-years-old, she's enjoying a long deserved vacation in Las Vegas. She's attending the third and final night of a Country Music Festival. As she sways in the warm summer breeze to the beat of the band she finds herself engulphed in the energy and exhilaration of the crowd. A woman who was dancing next to her falls to the ground. She reaches to help the woman to her feet. The fallen woman looks past her or through her, she's not sure, the woman's festive light blue western shirt, rhinestones and tassels outlining the pockets and collar, is rapidly changing from light blue to a dark reddish-brown. Stunned by the urgency of the force that has spun her around, a stranger looks directly in her eyes, the look on his face needs no explanation, "A shooter, run!" "Run!" he yells. She recognizes the unmistakable sound of rapid gunfire, the music no longer plays.

She finds herself one of many who have gathered in a large casino lobby. The welcoming bright and inviting slot machines are silent, the silence is deafening. "Please, remain calm and follow me", a casino guard informs the crowd as he leads them to the safety of the casino basement. The atmosphere is surreal, unexpectedly calm, as tears flow on the blood splattered faces of most everyone in the crowded basement. She herself remains calm, calm beyond understanding. Maintaining this even after observing her own blood stained hands. From the depth of her soul, it rises increasing in volume, she is unaware of how long she may have entertained this scream as it too joins the others in the vacuum of space that is her mind.

The Las Vegas sign with all the flowers placed there for the 60 people who lost their life and the 876 injured

She is 62-years old, it's March 2000, the world is facing a pandemic, Covid-19 has made it to the United States. It has been mandated that every person wear a mask and remain 6-feet apart from one another. The streets are empty and only a few scattered businesses are open. The ones that are open provide limited hours to shop. Everyone is hoarding toilet paper! The shelves in the grocery stores that once were stacked with food and other supplies are now close to empty. The government has just declared a lock down of all citizens, only essential workers remain employed, as they continue in their positions as first responders, doctors and others on the frontline. The conspiracy theories are thriving, and no-one is permitted to return to employment without getting a "covid" vaccine. Each day brings a heightened pitch within the volume of the screams that have somehow found space within the confines of the vacuum of space that is her mind! "Welcome to the New Normal".

By Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

The world is now a surreal place for her. She grieves for what once was. She is emotionally exhausted, unable to keep her eyes open she drifts off.. Unaware of were it came from, and above all, she clearly hears...

"Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space", or so they say..

(This story was inspired by the Science fiction Vocal Challenge "New World"}


About the author

Pamela Walsh-Holte

Born and raised in Washington state, 63-yo. Mother of 4, grandmother of 14, great grand of 2. I Graduated College with a BA. My Career was in Social Services.

Retired. Widowed. Author children's books and short stories.

Family is my life.

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