Breaking the Silence

By Linnea Staudt

"Look at her. She's in a fabulous 25 000 dollar car, she's got perfect blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, clothes that have been washed, ironed, and hung up by her personal maid, and those glasses? They're probably worth more then 3 of my pay checks. Imagine hot having to worry about money or society's rules and laws? Her daddy's probably a big shot lawyer that gets his little angel out of everything."

"She's stopped at a stop sign. She's not even speeding. Why are you making such a big deal about a random girl in a yellow VW bug?"

"She has everything I wish I had. Hey, she is probably even going over to her gorgeous boyfriend's house."

Contrary to the two streetwalker's opinions, Lisa, VW bug girl, was not going to her boyfriend's (albeit gorgeous) house. She was, ironically, going in the opposite direction. Running her hands down the steering wheel, Lisa took in a shaky breath. Breathe Lisa. Just breathe. Pressing her foot on the gas pedal, her car shuddered against the heavy wind and rain pelting against her windshield. The windshield wipers hurriedly forced the droplets of rain off this car that represented everything she wished she didn't have. She didn't care if she had a 20000 square foot house. She would rather have her father home more. She didn't care if she had 4 manicures a week, but the way her step-mom got them, it seemed she believed it would make her life better. Maybe if her step-mom and her father were home more, they would realize that she was having trouble. Maybe if their house wasn't as big, they would hear her crying every night. They gave her everything, except what she wanted the most, someone to listen.

Lisa dug through her Spontini Louis Vuitton bag, searching for her blackberry. Scrolling down her list of contacts, Lisa selected Jacqui, her best friend. Her friend picked up after the 5th ring (people considered you as desperate if you picked up on the 4th ring or earlier).

"Hello. You've reached the offices of supreme beauty."


"Lisa? What are you doing calling at this time?"

"I'm running away."

"A road trip?! Why didn't you invite me? Fine, I get it, bitch."

"Jacqui? Jacqui? Hello?" Lisa's best friend had hung up on her. Okay who's next? Lisa thought as she scrolled to another name. Mariah. The phone rang. And rang.

"Hello?" Mariah answered with a breathless voice.


"Oh hey Lisa. I'm kind of busy. Dave's over.'

"Oh. Well, uh. Okay. Bye."

"Bye sweetie. See you tomorrow."

"Yeah." Okay. So what now? Run. Lisa's phone started vibrating. Ryan. She threw the phone in the passenger's seat, and reached for the volume knob. Dance, Dance by Fallout Boy was pumped on her 10 000 dollar stereo. 'We're falling apart to half time.' Lisa sighed, such fitting lyrics. Her phone started beeping. Ryan had left a message. Let me guess. He's sorry. Like every time before. Lisa's heart ached. I should go back to him. He's sorry. He doesn't deserve this. Her alter-ego screamed yes, he does. How many times has he slapped you? I caused this. I questioned him on something stupid. Yeah because it's stupid to ask about him and another girl, that makes perfect sense. Lisa's attention snapped back to driving when the song changed. Wasteland by Augustana. 'Here we're nothing more than fools and whores and sad highs.' Am I just a whore looking for a sad high? Maybe. No.I almost slept with him. But you didn't. Does it really count? All of a sudden the blare of a horn interrupted her thoughts. Huge high beams put a pause to her world. Is this how it ends? She swerved. The semi rifled past her. Close one Lisa. Now stop thinking and pay attention to driving. Suddenly a large green sign appeared on her right declaring that there was 126 km to Kelowna and she sighed. One more hour.

When she had set out that night, she hadn't known where to go. She started driving on the number one, turned on the five, and suddenly knew where she was going: Grandma's house,her favourite hadn't been there since her father had married her step-mom. She talked to her on Christmas, but other than that, her grandma refused to acknowledge her son's marriage. When was the last time I saw her? Five years? Back when her mom was still alive, she had taken Lisa on a random road trip to visit her mother-in-law. Contrary to the norm, Lisa's mother and grandmother had gotten along famously. Lisa remembered eating cookies and lying in the sunroom, snuggled up with her mother and grandmother. She had felt happy. Was that the last time? She reached across the front seat and grabbed her phone, turned down the volume on White Houses by Vanessa Carlton and dialled. 1-250-895-4564. Although it was currently 5 a.m., her grandmother answered after the first ring.


"Grandma? It's Lisa."

"Oh child, what's wrong?" Lisa's grandmother had immediately recognized the anxiety in Lisa's voice.

"Can I come for a visit, just for a little while?"

"Certainly honey. But the roads are pretty bad."

"Yeah, I figured with all this rain that I'm running into right now. Is it bad there?"

"Not bad, but be careful. How far away are you?"

"An hour or so, is that alright?"

"Of course Lisa, you know you're always welcome. I'll put a pot of tea on for when you arrive."

"Okay. See you then."

"Be careful."

Lisa let out a stiffly held in breath. She was going home. Nothing else mattered. Ryan, the rain, her dad, her step-mom and bratty brother, they didn't matter anymore. Her grandmother welcomed her with open arms. Now all I need to do is get there.

A litter over an hour later, Lisa and her VW bug pulled into a large driveway. Thank god I found it. It was a surprise that she had no problems finding the hidden driveway that was barely visible in the trees. It was a long, gravel driveway, and Lisa had to stop herself from speeding up it to get to her destination quicker. I'm here. As she approached the small brown cottage with the small sunroom off the side, she saw a small lady bound from the front door. Grandma. Lisa parked beside a dark blue Toyota grandmother ran to Lisa's car, and yanked the door open. Lisa undid her seatbelt, stood up and received a huge bear hug from her grandmother.

"Hi sweetie, welcome home."

"Oh grandma, I missed you." Lisa exclaimed as she breathed in that classic grandma smell—freshly baked bread, and a sort of sweetness that resonated around the woman.

"Come on honey, I made tea and cookies." Her grandmother tugged gently on her hand, leading her towards the small cottage.

"Yummy." Lisa said with a smile, walking beside her grandmother. They slowly walked through the open door. The welcoming area was a warm green with accents of beige. Lisa stepped out of her shoes and walked into the kitchen, directly in front of the entranceway. As she stepped on the rug, a rush of memories paraded her mind. Sitting with her legs crossed in the middle of the rug, eating cookies, laughing. I was happy then. She walked into the kitchen, glancing around. Well-worn. Her grandmother was an amazing cook. Lisa could presently smell fresh bread in the hot oven, and saw the dozen chocolate chip cookies cooling off on top of the cookie rack. Her grandmother was famous for her cookies. She often had four full cookie jars lining the countertop. She followed her grandmother and sat down at the table.

"Here. Its green tea with some milk and honey, your favourite." Lisa's grandma said as she set a pink mug on a coaster in front of her. Lisa was touched that she had remembered how she liked her tea.

"Thanks Grandma. How are you?" Lisa said, holding the mug of tea up to her nose, breathing in the unique aroma of green tea.

"I'm wonderful dear. Now tell me what made you rush all the way out here." She was never one to dance around the point. In fact, her grandmother could be considered a harsh woman at times. Standing at 5'4", with a roundly shape, Lisa's grandmother was still as sharp as ever. Her eyes, even with the telling signs of aging around them were still a clear blue-green. Lisa knew they could see through any façade. Her mouth was tight, except when she was smiling, which was often. She was a strong woman that had been through a lot. She would defend the people she loved until the end, and she would not let those certain people down. The only exception to this was her son, Lisa's father. She was disappointed in his choices for his family and how he went through his wife's death. Lisa's grandmother was not able to fathom how quickly her son had gotten overhis first wife Sarah. Lisa's grandfather had died 6 years earlier, and her grandmother was still not completely over it. Lisa's dad, on the other hand, had married a measly 7 months after Sarah had died. The respect for her son, in Lisa's grandmother's eyes, was destroyed.

"Uh, I just decided to take a road trip Grandma." In an attempt at seeming sincere, Lisa looked up into the concerned blue-green eyes belonging to her grandmother.

"Don't dance around the issue girl. You don't decide to take a 5 hour road trip at midnight. Now tell me what happened. Is it about your dad? What did he do?"

"No Grandma, Dad didn't do anything." Lisa replied.

"Maybe that's the problem sweetheart." Her grandma cut in.

"No. Well, maybe. But I honestly just needed to get away from it all."

"Okay, if that's all you're going to tell me, that's fine. You're welcome to stay here as long as you want."

"Oh Grandma, thank you, I really appreciate it—"

"On one condition," Lisa's heart sank. "You have to call your dad, and tell him where you are."

"But Grandma, he'll never understand."

"Oh child, your father is a very understanding person, his problem is he doesn't notice when things are wrong. You don't have to tell him why you are here. Just tell him you're safe and that you will go back when you feel its right." Her grandmother soothed, "And anyway, do you really want him to send a search party out for you?"

"Ha, like he would."

"Lisa." Her grandmother said with a stern voice.

"Okay, fine. I will call him in a few hours."

"Okay deal. Now drink up. I have a busy day ahead of me, especially so now that you're here. I will have to get Matt to—"

"Matt? Who the heck is Matt?"

"Oh. Matt is the young man that helps me around this place. It might be small, but this cottage requires a lot of work. I'll need him today to help me with laundry and shovelling snow. Oh and I want to get my Christmas lights hung up."

"But Grandma, that's much too dangerous for you!"

"Don't be silly Lisa. I just direct Matt, and he does them for me. It's nearly 6:30. We should get you unpacked and then start making breakfast."

"Uh, Grandma, I don't have anything to unpack. I didn't really plan this."

"I thought this was a planned road trip that you just happened to venture out at midnight. No bother. We need to get the bedding from the spare bedroom washed and aired out. Do you have at least one change of clothes?"

"Oh Grandma, there is no reason to treat me differently than when I was a kid. I will be fine in my old room." Lisa had slept there every time she had come to visit. It had a small bed and sparse furniture, but it was her favourite place because it was so plain.

"Dear, that's where Matt sleeps."

"Matt? Matt lives with you?!"

"Why yes. He is a college student from Calgary."

"Why is he living in your house?"

"Do you remember Mildred Becon? The friend of mine who lives in Calgary? Well Matt is her grandson, and we arranged that for free room and board over the holidays, he would help me around the house, and he could go uh, snow-surfing anytime he wanted."

"Emily, it's called snowboarding. How many times do I have to explain it to you?" A tall young man had entered the room, pulled a mug out of the cupboard, and was teasing Lisa's grandmother. He hadn't even noticed Lisa.

"Matt, meet my granddaughter, Lisa Monroe. Lisa, this is Matt Becon."

"Hey Lisa, it is a pleasure to meet you, but, now I have to go." Matt had drained his tea, and had started walking away.

"Young man, you need breakfast. I've already made it. Now sit down, and we'll start." Emily commanded. Matt stopped, turned around, and started to argue, but stopped when Emily simply said "Sit down."

"Fine." Matt complied with a sigh. "What are we having?" He smiled sweetly, acting like nothing had happened. Now that he had sat down, Lisa started to observe him. He had dark blue eyes with little flicks of gold, dirty brown hair, about an inch and a half in length. He was probably six feet tall, but Lisa wasn't quite sure now that he was sitting down. Although he was obviously quite good looking, Lisa didn't notice until he looked into her eyes, and smiled. It wasn't this breath-taking moment, but something about Matt's smile made Lisa believe that everything would turn out okay. Those little flicks of gold in his eyes took on their own glow, and Lisa had this sudden urge of attaching herself to this guy so she could feel like nothing could ever go wrong again.

Lisa's thoughts were interrupted by her grandmother responding, "Banana pancakes, now what would you like to drink?"

"Tea is fine for me Grandma," Lisa replied sweetly.

"Banana pancakes? Do you happen to be a fan of Jack Johnson, Emily?" Matt questioned.

"Does Jack happen to be a cook?"

"Haha. No. Never mind. But banana pancakes sound good." Matt said with a big smile.

"Lisa, do you know what he's talking about?" Emily questioned thoughtfully, but with a smile on her face.

"Grandma, Jack Johnson is a singer. He has a song named Banana Pancakes." Lisa responded.

"Oh. Well Matt, what do you expect? I don't keep up with those kids making that crap you young people call music. You know, I sometimes feel sorry for your generation, not knowing what real music is. Listen to Frank Sinatra or The Temptations, and then you will be listening to something of substance." At Matt and Lisa's blank stares, she finished with an exasperated "Okay, how about Elvis and The Beatles. You have to know those two!"

Lisa and Matt burst out laughing. Lisa explained, "Yes grandma, we know all of those bands. And Jack Johnson is amazing. I will have to let you listen to one of his CD's"

"Oh so you have all your CD's, but no clothes on this road trip. Mhm"

"Well, you need music to drive." Lisa explained with a grin.

"You don't have any clothes?" Matt questioned.

"Not really." Lisa said with a shrug.

"Speaking of clothes, Matt, could Lisa borrow some of your clothes. We don't have the time today to go into town and get some for her."

"Yeah, that's fine."

"Now eat your breakfast."

"Yes Ma'am."

Over the next few days, Matt and Lisa got close. They spent pretty much every minute together, either with Emily, or by themselves, doing work. Lisa felt good. She loved the fresh air of Kelowna. The hard labour of taking care of the cottage enabled her to think as much as she wanted. Sometimes, she would give her full concentration to the work, but then other times, she wanted to think of Ryan and her family. Neither Matt nor Emily pushed her on why she was there, and they just welcomed her into the house. Meal times were hilarious, with her Grandma often arguing with Matt and Lisa over one thing or another, but always with a smile. They went snowboarding together, and tried (but not successfully) to get Emily out there on skis. Lisa's grandmother would not budge out of the cabin. One night, almost a week since Lisa had arrived early that morning, Lisa and Matt stayed up late watching horror movies. Emily had long ago gone to bed (at the routine time of eight). Matt was making hot chocolate, and Lisa lay on the couch loving the way her body was warm and tired from a full day. It was snowing outside, and the cottage was like a cocoon. She felt sheltered and isolated from the chaos of life. Matt came in the room with two big mugs of hot chocolate, started the movie and sat down at the end of the couch. It really didn't matter what they were watching. It was the amicable silence that comforted her the most.

With an hour of the movie passed, Lisa was struggling to stay awake. She noticed Matt was fully awake, and did not want to be the one that fell asleep first. Matt noticed that she was almost asleep, turned to her and said, in a quiet voice "Why are you here?"

Suddenly Lisa was awake. She responded "Uh, a vacation?"

"Seriously, do you want to talk about it?"

"What? I don't know. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel and what to do next."

"It helps to talk about it. But I understand. How about I start?"

"With what? I thought you're here just for vacation and to catch some nice powder."

"That's true, but I only started living with my grandmother, in Calgary 3 months ago. I used to go to university in Toronto."

"Why did you move?"

"There are many reasons, but mostly because of my family. My sister was in a terrible accident when I was 17. My mother didn't know how to deal with it, and she became severely depressed. She ended up committing suicide about 6 months ago. I ran."

"Oh Matt, I'm so sorry."

"Thank you. Now Lisa, What's your story?"

"Uh, back home, well, uh, I have a boyfriend. He is a wonderful guy, and I think I'm in love with him, and we've been dating for almost 7 months now. He makes me feel good about myself, well, mostly I guess."

"He hits you, doesn't he?"

"Uh," With a blush, Lisa looked up from studying the quilt patterns, "how did you know?"

"You had a slight bruise on your jawbone when you came a week ago. I didn't comment because I didn't think you were ready to open up. Has he done this more than once?" Matt asked with a clenched jaw, displaying how this conversation was angering him. Lisa thought but he's still willing to listen. Lisa's respect for Matt shot up.

"Only a couple of times, he always says he's sorry, and that he won't do it again. Well he did the other night. I heard a rumour of him sleeping with another girl, and I asked him about it. He got angry, and slapped me. I ran out of the house and started driving here."

"Why didn't you go home?"

"Uh, my family isn't so good with emotions or problems. My father doesn't know anything about Ryan. He seems too distracted to deal with my problems. My step-mother, on the other hand, just doesn't care. She sees me as someone who is expected to move out of the house in a year."

"So that's why you came here. Hey, Lisa?"


"I'm glad you came." Matt said with a smile, "Now let's finish this damn movie." They continued to watch the movie, but now that it was after midnight, they both fell asleep. Because they were in dream land together on the couch, they did not see the headlights as they turned into the driveway of the cottage. Nor did they see a dark-haired young man step out of a Trans Am, walk towards the house, and before he reached the door, glance in the window. What he saw were two lovers who had fallen asleep together on the couch. The problem lay in the fact that one of them was his girlfriend.

"Bloody bitch." Ryan Aldridge said with an oath. He climbed the stairs to the door, and tried the doorknob. It wasn't locked.

Two weeks later, Lisa woke up in strange surroundings. What the heck? Why am I in a hospital? A woman dressed in a nurses uniform walked into the room, saw that Lisa was awake, and turned to exit the room.

Once she was out of the room, Lisa heard her yell "She's awake!" A couple seconds later came welcome sight of Lisa's grandmother entering the room.

Lisa hoarsely asked "What happened?"

Emily answered with, "What do you remember?"

"Nothing much, Matt and I talking and finishing the movie. Why?" Now that Lisa was fully awake, she noticed the dull pain centered at the back of her head.

Over the next few hours, her grandmother and father (he had come!) told her what they knew about the night two weeks previous. According to the authorities, Ryan attacked her after finding out where she was from her family. According to the doctors, the two week coma was from head trauma, and Lisa thought did I even wake up? And then one thought connected to another, and she suddenly screamed "MATT? WHAT HAPPENED TO MATT? WHERE IS HE?"

Her grandma explained that he was in another hospital room, and that he had a broken arm and leg. He had chosen to stay at the hospital so that he could be there if she woke up. He knocked Ryan out with a lamp, called the police, and then sat with Lisa trying to wake her up. He had refused to get into the first ambulance that came, and had not let a doctor touch him before Lisa was taken care of.

Matt suddenly appeared at the doorway in a wheelchair. He looked at Lisa, Emily and Lisa's father, and politely asked "If it's alright with you, can Lisa and I have a couple of minutes alone?" Lisa's father and grandmother complied. And then they were alone. They talked for a full hour about what happened that night, and Lisa could not express enough gratitude for what he had done. She was assured by Matt that he was alright, and then Matt looked into her blue eyes and asked the question that she had been wondering for most of the afternoon, "Do we have something worth pursuing? I care for you Lisa, and I think we could have something great."

Lisa didn't know how to respond at first, but after a few minutes of comforting silence, she quietly explained, "Matt, I think we could have something great. But not right now. I need to learn to love myself. I need to learn to be independent and content with just myself." Lisa cleared her throat, and asked hoarsely, "Friends?"

"Yes, but you must let me know what is going on in your life. It doesn't matter what it is, I just need to be there for you. And I need you not to be nervous about spending time with me. I will not make a move until you are ready, understand?"

"Yes. Thank you Matt, so much. But could I have some time alone?" Even though Matt looked confused at her request, he complied. She sat there for a long time, letting the wave of emotions and thoughts travel through her. Then she asked the nurse to get her dad. They needed to talk. Well, in all actuality, she needed to talk, and he needed to listen. She looked out the window as she was waiting for her dad to enter the room, and saw that it was snowing again. She rested her head on her bent knees, and thought for the first time in a long time, everything is going to be alright.