I Heard Esme Crying in the Sirens (A Short Story)

Wednesday, March 24

By Mihi

"Why didn’t you tell someone” they’d ask you. “Why didn’t you say something” they’d ask again. “Is your mouth sewn shut child?” SHUT UP, SHUT UP. No one was actually asking you that. But how did they find out that you saw it happen? You didn’t tell anyone. Were you being stalked? Followed? Is someone out to get you? Someone is out to get you. It was you. You were out to get yourself. You battled yourself to hide the truth but you couldn’t anymore. You sat at your window every day watching horrible things happen. These things occurred right outside YOUR window. Right under your nose. You watched the Robertson’s boy fall off his bike. That didn’t matter. Everyone always made fun of him for weighing a ton more than his own bike. That wasn’t okay and you knew that. What kind of grown people make fun of a boy for something like that. He was only 7. And then you watched that bus hit the car and kept on driving. 

 "I saw him. The driver hit my car.” a muffled voice yelled.

"We have no proof. We don’t even know where the driver went.” another voice responded. The sirens wailing in the background started to sound like a nail being drilled through your head.

You saw what happened. You were recording. You wanted to watch and record your neighbor from your window and ended up catching the accident on the recording as well. But you couldn’t say anything. What would everyone think? What would they say? What would mother think? 

Did you hear what that boy Asher was caught doing? The Millers boy.”

"Yes I did. What an embarrassment for the family.”

You couldn’t let information like that get out. Not in a neighborhood like this. Not in a neighborhood where word gets out faster than those kids chased you around the school yard on their skateboards. The neighborhood book club talking about it instead of actually finishing their book for once. The early morning fishers who go drinking instead of fishing like they tell their wives talking about it. Those judgemental kids at school who’ll make fun of you for it. Anyone who comes to visit from afar would think to themselves “Oh what a nice and lovely neighborhood and people. So welcoming!” 

But they don’t see what you can see from right outside your very own window. Do lovely people bully a poor child? Do lovely people hide secrets from their own families? Do lovely children sneak out when their parents are asleep and don’t come back till 5 am? No they don’t. But they always manage to make sure that no one will ever find out. But everyone knows what’s happening. They just act like nothing happened. Laughing and talking with their neighbors all friendly thinking that no one knows who’s sleeping with who. 

"Oh good morning Ashley! Sleep okay?”

"Hey Nathan, how’s school going?”

"What's Up! How are you doing?”

"Off to work honey, see you later”

It's absolutely revolting. But you know that you are one of them. You’re from this small town so you are who they are. You’re not as superior as you think you are. If you’re not one of them now, you’ll become one of them soon enough. You’ll become one of those people who hide everything. Who wears a new face everyday. Acting like everything is going smoothly when there’s someone else looking at you through their own window. They know what’s really going on. Heck, everyone knows what’s going on. But by then will anyone be ready to do what everyone since the start of this town has been scared to do? Will one day there be someone to confront the sick lies that come out of these people’s mouths?

Everyone's window portrays different things. In a town where people really care for each other they may see a poor dying bird. They’ll quickly run out to bring the bird inside or to a vet in hopes of saving it. In a crowded and bustling city someone else may see traffic on the street and a kid walking their dog with leaves blowing everywhere. But your window shows another side of the world. One that is strange to think that this could be seen by the human eye. How do you know that mr. Owen is cheating on his wife? How do you know that Lydia, your kindergarten line partner, now sneaks out every night? It’s really easy actually. 

The people in this town act all friendly but inside they absolutely loathe each other and themselves. You’re the only one who takes the time to get to know everyone. You’re the only one who knows that Mrs. Osborne’s mom is sick and her dad died a couple years back. You’re the only one that knows that Leslie microwaved his hamster when he was 8 years old. And you’re the only one who really knows what happened to Esme. They called you crazy for trying to spread the truth.

"Marissa, you better get that boy of yours some serious help. He’s speaking all gibberish now” your mom’s co-worker once said.

"That boy’s been lying since he was just a kid,” Esme’s husband claimed.

"I work with Paul, if he was a killer I would know” Roslyn cried in his defense. 

In a place where everyone’s tries to avoid each other without actually avoiding each other, they’d do anything to try to cover up the truth. You knew that you weren’t the only one who watched Paul carry that bag carefully into the trunk of his car a couple hours before reporting his wife missing. You weren’t the only one who noticed him return home with a bag of cleaning supplies, new bedsheets and a new carpet. You knew that it wasn’t just a coincidence that his mistress moved right into that house only days after Esme's disappearance to take her spot. And it wasn’t a coincidence either that his mistress is Roslyn. The same woman who was the first to jump in and defend him. Everyone else knew too but the rules will always stay the same. See something, do nothing. 

"Asher Honey, I think it’s time you get some help.” Your mom told you one day.

"It's not natural for someone to come up with such complex lies like that. I always thought you’d grow out of them but it just keeps on getting worse.”

"But mom I wasn’t lying. Everything I said, I saw. I saw it all happen. I’d look outside my window and everyday there would be something new. I’m not making it up.” You tried to explain. But she didn’t listen. After seeing this town no one would believe you until spending one night in this forest of destruction. Lies going through the system of each household like adrenaline rushing through one’s veins. You’d hope every day that someone would finally see through the picture perfect painting that blanketed over this town. But no one ever did. Instead you were sent away. You never got to see how things ended but it was probably for the best. You can’t always control who you become but at least you can hide why you are who you are. If only your window portrayed a prettier picture.

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