I’m used to doors closing when I’m not supposed to talk anymore. 

I have six brothers and sisters and as the youngest I know how to take cues. Kind of like when someone puts a pointer finger to their lips to hush you.

Only I pay closer attention than that.

The first time I went to New York City I was nine years old. My neighbor Hannah was holding my hand and leading the way down fifth avenue. There was a gunshot. Someone yelled something about a pocketbook. And a man ran through our grip leaving me with no contact from Hannah for about thirty seconds.

I looked at the Christmas tree and smiled. I saw my reflection in the glass of a boutique with riches worth more than the wardrobe of my entire family. A man in a suit nearly tripped over me before apologizing.

Suddenly I was being led again.

There is a trick I taught myself to do when I get out of the shower. Close my eyes until they flutter, then squint as hard as I can. It makes my ears ring. Sometimes I practice outside on sunny days.

I find myself doing this after he closes the door. I’m not supposed to speak. But I can’t endure the silence.

I squint my eyes and listen and wonder if this is causing any damage. I assume it’s not worse than my damaged vocal chords.

So I squeeze tighter and listen to the bells.