Soundless

By Richelle Mead; Published In 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Mythology
Again, I am awed, overwhelmed by the strength and emotion conveyed in the human voice. For the first time since this phenomenon started happening to me, I begin to understand the power it could have and why our ancestors mourned its loss. Every sound around me - the renewed pattering of rain, the wind in the leaves - all of is suddenly has a new meaning. I can see how these sounds don't interfere with the world so much as enhance it. The scope and potential are huge. It's like having a new color to paint with.

A scream is a sound we make that is born of intense feeling. A scream of fear, of being startled, is often high-pitched. It may be short or prolonged. A scream may also accompany delight or amusement, though often that is more of a squeal. And a scream of sorrow or rage ... well, that is an entirely different thing. That comes from a darker place, from the depths of our souls, and when we scream in those times, because we are sad or angry, there is a terrible knowledge that accompanies it, that we are giving voice to our emotions, to what is simply too big for our hearts to contain.

And as Li Wei cries out, I know Feng Ji is right. It is his heart I am hearing, a way of expressing what he feels over his father's loss that is both primal and beautiful, and it comes from his soul and reaches something within mine. It is the sound my own heart made when my parents died, only I didn't know it until now.

But when I reach the edge of the
crowd gathered for the ceremony, I understand what has really drawn me here.
Li Wei.

Death. Starvation. Blindness. Another grim day in our village.

Elder Lian has lectured us many times on proper behavior between boys and
girls, darkly warning of how “dangerous feelings” can arise. I’m not that worried
about any feelings arising, though. They’re already here, no matter how I try to
suppress them.

Fei, you know you can trust me. I’m here for you. I always have been and
always will be. Tell me what’s wrong.
You can’t keep rescuing me, I say.
Of course not, he agrees. You can rescue yourself—but perhaps I can give
you a hand now and then.
I smile faintly, but there is an ache in my chest as I think back to that longago
day, trapped in the rubble when a beautiful, glittering boy held out his hand
to pull me out.

He gives me a quick primer on the basics of the equipment and then shocks
me when he uses some of the rope to tie us together. He grins when he sees my
astonishment.
Nervous about being so close to me? he asks, giving the rope a slight tug.
I cross my arms, refusing to be baited by that dangerous question—even if
there is truth to it. But whatever my feelings for him, I must focus on the larger picture: Zhang Jing and our village’s future.
Don’t get any ideas, I warn.
A small smile tugs at his lips. And what kind of ideas would those be,
apprentice?

I went to the library seeking information on what might bring hearing back, but now I wonder if there's a way to make it go away again. I can't see why our ancestors thought hearing was such a great thing, why they mourned its loss so much. It's jarring and distracting, making it impossible to focus on anything else.

Look what we've done so far. We're pretty good at the impossible.

Observing is not the same as experiencing.' Li Wei gestures angrily at my stump. 'You sit there and judge others from a safe distance every day. You assume because you watch us, you understand us. But you don't.

Perfection is an admirable thing to strive for. But so is knowing when to stop.

Some things don't need words. Sometimes it's enough to just feel. You don't have to label and articulate all that's around you.

There will never be another name on my heart.

The venerable cypress clings doggedly to its rocky perch, its branches spreading wide and high into the sky. 'See how it stands proudly, even in such inhospitable conditions?' our father used to say. 'This is how we must always be - strong and resilient, no matter what's around us.

This is how we must always be—strong and resilient, no matter what’s around us.

Throughout our youth, whenever we had a dispute, Li Wei and I would apologize to each other by exchanging gifts. Mine would be in the form of drawings, crudely done with whatever natural supplies I could find. His would always be carvings. There was only one time the exchange didn't happen, the day I told him I was accepting the apprentice position and would never be able to marry him.

We're not doing anything until I find my sister,' I say