David Didn’t Speak

by Amy-Jean Muller


David didn’t speak;

He was quieter in ‘share group’ than the rest of us, and I could see myself in him in some way. He’d eat big bowls of plain yoghurt at every meal, tasting absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing created from the base of nothing.

When we would get together in the afternoons, we would all tuck ourselves under the blankets in a circle to prepare to take off all the layers of our truth like teenagers ready to expose all the ‘dirty parts’ under our clothes, we’d wait for him, and as expected;

David didn’t speak.

He’d just sit there; all thin and worn with his legs crossed over his knees, crossed over his foot, and his foot hooked around again; only to coil himself even smaller into a tinier form of nothingness, a tasteless nothingness just as empty as that bowl of yoghurt.

His hand would scoop under his chin to make extra sure he was just as tight, almost to fold himself in. His fist would press firmly against his jaw so his mouth would stay shut up tight. All tied zipped and tight tight-lipped. But we’d still look at him when there were silences, expecting something out of the nothing I guess, and he’d stare at the wall, and he’d be safe in his tightness, because, he was full of nothingness; so silence was ok for him, and we all knew it because,

David didn’t speak.

The grey patches of hair on his scalp were becoming bald, and you could see the break of his break down, and the way he almost accepted it, as we all sat and oozed, and fell over ourselves from the medications to break down over our breakdowns. Then when they forced us to take our tablets, all our little broken bodies would line up, in front of tables that lined up in front of each other, lined up next to the list of our transgressions. Lined up in cups ready in their doses, ready to heal us; he’d wait there too, all in his nothingness and we’d know despite everything,

David wouldn’t speak.

When we would go to those groups and walk-up, and stand up, and talk up, and told to shut up, or hold our breath because the breathing was hard and our blood pressure was high. We’d slump heavy, and weighted from the push and press of the worlds pull, but we knew one thing was certain; David wouldn’t speak.

In those mornings when I would wake, and try and put on a smile, and try and find the strength to face up, to all the things that made me want to die and all the things that I could count on one hand that meant I should stay alive. I’d look at him and know;

David wouldn’t speak.

He’d just eat that yoghurt, all white, and plain and dead and faded into the bowl of the same colour of nothingness.

It was a beautiful disaster, the feeling of that break in my mind, splitting apart from the fracture, and I would try to hide, and gasp and tether my words,

“C’mon keep it together!” and lose the hold again.

That’s the pain of it, the fear of it; but there’s something in its acceptance too. Getting used to the way they screamed at night. The way I wished that heaven would open up and take me. In those moments when the morning would come, and I would ask your God,

‘Why?’ and feel like I didn’t deserve the end for some reason, like some of the others did. Finding myself still alive under the covers, again and again, I’d know the day would start with that same nothingness, that tasteless, base of everything where every mouthful became another moment that meant;

David wouldn’t speak.

And I’d walk over to the same table; the same-same-morning, that fucking came again to punish me. I’d sit and get ready to share, and hear about hope, and possibility and pretend to care about all the fucked up lies of wanting to try or not wanting to die.

Then I’d walk past his room, and the door would be open, and his arms would be raised up to the heavens as he gasped for air under the faucet, lifting up, to some ‘Power,’ and his nakedness would mean nothing at all because even when he tried to hang himself there with the wet leather;

David didn’t speak.

Then we’d stand together in the morning again, waiting to eat again,

and he’d get that yoghurt again, and my bones would ache from it all again, as I lived it all again, all again, and again and again. It was the fucking same.  The fucking same again, and that yoghurt tasted of nothing but everything I felt.

And I told him that day; sat with him and whispered, and cried, and in that little moment together, believe it, I even tried. I even pretended to pray.

And I reached to his tight up body, all crossed over itself with his legs, and feet and arms and that grasp in his fist to his chin, and I’d move our empty bowls of nothing to the side, and I’d looked at him and say;

“It’s come for me, its all spun for me, all the laps run for me, and I want it to be fucking done for me!”

And you know what;

David didn’t speak.


Amy-Jean Muller is an artist, writer and poet from South Africa who lives and works in London. Both her art and writing explore culture, memory, identity, and sexuality. She has exhibited her art in South Africa and London and her writing can be found in various publications. She is also a regular contributor for Verification.




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