Valencia College, Lake Nona Campus

Silence in the Theater

The barrel caught fire.

Woman down.

In the office, it had been sixty-five and a half days without an incident, but this tragedy was one for the cameras.

We had never seen anything like it with our own eyes. Some could only sit and observe the horrors happening in front of them, unable to look below its surface. Being the slow worker, I didn’t assess my current predicament. I only contemplated myself. Not even considering that it could mean the end of me.

When the skull started splitting, everyone was off on a sprint. Just then, a mind-numbing silence began to overtake my senses, leaving me frozen in my seat. I could feel myself sitting there in that moment for a colossal amount of time, much more than the clock on the wall suggested. It seemed the silence was beyond me, and I would be ensnared in it forever.

At the tick of the second hand, my first instinct was to gasp and run. Mentally, though, I hadn’t moved an inch.

A scene doesn’t have to be gruesome to make you reconsider yourself. It can be affectionate, dour, exciting, or a poster on a brick wall. So, even in the face of death, the same thoughts came to me: my purpose, my place, and my ethic all splattered about, dribbling down the walls. All I could do was tell myself that it will all come together at some point. And as someone who hates repetition, it terrifies me how this reasoning has become mundane.

Everyone thinks like an audience: we watch our scenes with careful consideration of what led up to them, and on the edge of our seats, constantly speculate what will happen next. This is no real revelation. I’m sure everyone comes to terms with that at some point or another. But what continues to haunt me is that no shot, no line, and no visual can captivate me now unless it presents a problem for later, and with that, a precedent. The only value in my eyes is what came before and what I hope comes later.

Blood and bits of flesh filled the cracks of a bright, white tile floor, and it didn’t put me to work. Instead came a moment where I waited for the self-prophecy of getting up and mopping the mess to come true, boundlessly: that is my silence.

When would the horrors stop? When would I stop running from them?

I didn’t know the answers. To this day, they elude me. Maybe they’ll come to me, maybe I’ll find them.

But even in my desperation, there are some things I don’t want answered. For example: if the lady was going to shoot herself, why did she want so many of us to see?


Capers Gay is a second year student at Lake Nona Campus. He's an aspiring writer who creates ideas faster than he can write them, which keeps his brain in a state of perpetual overload. Oh, he'll talk about rock occasionally, too.
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