Ladisa Quintanilla: Noise Pollution

Spring '08 TOC

            I thought I was adopted until I was around eight or so.  People—damn strangers—used to tell me I was.  Believed ‘em.  What the hell! 
            Listen to grown-ups!  Respect grown-ups!  Do as you’re told!
            Probably not the best thing to tell children: Do as you’re told!  They get messed with that way.  Abused.  Molested.  Neglected.  It’s rampant!  It’s like a normal part of growing up nowadays.  Maybe nowadays is no different from thenadays.  Maybe we’re just louder nowadays.  Did you know every radio or TV broadcast made on earth floats out to space and keeps floating?  To who knows where.
            Imagine 50 million blaring televisions!  There could be some alien species—an entire alien planet—completely wiped out!  Made extinct because of our noise.  Yeah, our noise.  I wonder if it’s the same for our voices.  If our whispers float to space.
Imagine a child’s cry for help carried off to an alien planet.  What would they think of us?  Do we care? 
            First off, we’d be the aliens.  Maybe we’re the bad aliens!  The ones destroying other planets.  With our words.  Our constant chatter!  Our precious noise!  
            I wanted to be abducted as a child.  I figured my real parents would come for me.  Most likely in a UFO.  Land right in the front yard, hop out, stun-ray anyone who kept them from their precious baby alien.  I wouldn’t cry out for help.  I would laugh and run to my real parents.  They’d let me steer the UFO on the way home. 
            These were my thoughts.  The thoughts of an adopted girl not really adopted.  Or abducted.  The UFO never landed.  And I still did as I was told.  I did.  Shut up!  I did. Stop all that noise!  Talk to someone who cares!  I did.  I did.
            I did.
            I had friends.  The kind that talk about everything.  All our chatter surging through the universe along with rumbling stomachs and car backfires.  The aliens would probably tune in to us girls just for fun.  Like a soap or Oprah or something.  The early 90s Oprah.  We’d sit, talking about all the bad things that happened to us.  Sometimes it was just a broken heart and other times it was tough stuff.  We’d talk about these kinds of things.  In a roundabout way.  Outside on the playground.  We weren’t really kids anymore.  Junior High.  Twelve, thirteen.  There was this one girl that’d get real quiet when we started talking about old greasy Uncle Ron or grabin’-ass grandpa.  We’d laugh and play it off.  Pushing back our gut-ache.  Nothin’ else to do but play it off.  Everyone had something happen to them anyways.  It wasn’t so bad.  Unless, it was bad, I mean.  Real bad never got laughs.  That was different.  Uncomfortable, you know.  We didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know.  What could I say?  Sorry to hear your father… your brother… ah…
            The aliens wouldn’t tune out or anything.  They have a different comfort zone.  Wider, I think.  Shouting out a few four-letter words might make that girl feel better.  For a little while.  Then she’d get home and it’d probably happen again and all that anger got pushed down deeper.  All those screams surging through the universe, falling on alien ears.  If aliens have ears.  Then the screams stopped.  Does silence surge?  Drugs might help when she was old enough to realize where to score some.  Not hard to find drugs in Junior High.  Shit, elementary school even!  Nowadays and thenadays.  They’re like, “Hey, want some dope?  Some crack?”  And you’re like, “Sure!”  You could even score a beer, a shot in the hall.  A couple of teachers were always good for a quick fix before a test or P.E.  Then there’s that one teacher—you didn’t have to go to grabin’-ass grandpa’s house to get well…  You could stay right at school and do as you’re told.  Keep your mouth shut.  Nobody wants to hear about it. 
            Nobody does.  It’s uncomfortable. 
            My show’s on TV.  Don’t bother me.  Dinner’s ready when you finish making it!  Mom used to say that.  I was eight when that started.  By nine I was making dinner every night.  You get hungry, you know.  Mom ate whatever I made so I guess it all worked out. 
            Never mentioned the teacher thing to Mom.
            It only happened once.   
            I still think about that UFO that never came.
            Damn noise probably killed ‘em.

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Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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