Without Voice 

By Alyssa Shanderson

Love is all around me on the most perfect night of my final summer in Astoria. His big callused hands intertwined with mine, going down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at a silent ninety miles per hour. My heart beat at just the same pace. A love coming home, and two inspirations in the backseat. There is no place in the world where I feel as safe. On our way back from JFK Airport, we realized that this was our last hoorah. This was my family for ten months, and after weeks that felt like months, we were all finally back together. One last time.

We parked the Volkswagen Passat, we called her Sasha. Many, many nights in a five seater with seven to nine cramped bodies scrawled across the seats hysterically laughing with The Front Bottoms and Queen playing louder. The words that emitted from those speakers were the soundtrack to all that we knew to be true.  That night, the street was as silent as we were until we reached the balcony, no cars or church bells. Two stories up, closer to the very few city stars than we could ever hope to be. Cool air swirled over our heads and lulled away the humid air from earlier in the day. Our voices boomed louder than any firecracker ever could, and had more meaning than any sonnet.  We settled in and talked as though time had not been harsh to us, as if it was still before graduation or prom. Questions about our nights apart, flights taken, and plans for move in day. The boys set up the tent and the sleeping bags. Each blanket smelled of the earth, from camping trips that we didn’t take together. The girls watched them figure out the intricacies and placements of each rod.

Once it was finished, we took swigs of Jaeger and smoked to make ourselves feel better. It burned our bodies and made us cough, but we ignored it, our joy was an anesthetic. Blissfully ignorant and numb.

Through the foggy air, I found that I could not speak, I lost my voice to the eventualities that were tearing us apart.  Even without communication, I felt accepted, loved. I could not articulate my thoughts, I was consumed with love. This was my family.  His deep brown eyes told me that I would be alright.  The others implored me to speak my mind and disclose how I felt. I could not tell them that subconsciously I knew that it would never be this perfect again. In retrospect, I was right. Painfully so.  SO I stayed mute.

We all fell asleep, and woke to an alarm clock of Ave Maria, with the sound of families running into the church late.  We trudged down Broadway and entered a diner with the hopes of savory bacon, eggs, and coffee to ease our hangovers. We felt like pianos had fallen on our heads, but little did we know that night could have been the best of our adolescent lives.