by Shawn McClure


When Earth was a baby, it was very small, so it only had one forest near a network of blue capillaries that fanned out like fingers toward a little sea. The forest was thick, had a carpet of moss, and food that leapt from the water into the hands of the only two people on Earth. They were sisters, born together at the beginning of time, and life was idyllic.

One of the women had come spontaneously from an algae thickened pool, treelike at first, but fleshed out with a network of internal red rivers. She had a brain for dreaming and a hollow, floral organ from which all of mankind would one day emerge. She was destined to grow into a cacophony no one could yet imagine. She was called Sound.

The other woman took the same form, but had been generated from dew and windborn seeds. She was hidden between the gasps and sighs of her sister. She was a rest between notes, a pause that fleshed out rhythm. She was meek and destined to be broken. She was called Silence.


The sisters lived in easy harmony until it was all thrown out of balance by the seeds of the great fruit tree that would one day be called Pomegranate. Sound ate so many seeds that by a miracle, she became pregnant. She gave birth, one child after another, infants of various colors, some with fruit parts instead of flower parts, all of them crying and noisy. There was one child for every seed of the fruit, and though their forest had grown, it was intolerably crowded. The sisters had no choice but to send the children away to become Mankind.

They went peacefully to the east, and young Earth grew to accommodate them. They multiplied and set sail, multiplied and sailed again. Like an invasive species, they grew faster than the plant that would one day be called Bamboo, and more populous than the caterpillar that would one day be called Gypsy.

The Earth was round even back then, but the sisters were still surprised when several hundred years later they were invaded from the west by a noisy and colorful traveling horde bearing the trumpets of angels, the drums of devils, and every instrument that one could conjure up from wind or strings.

They seemed familiar, and Sound was thrilled to discover they were the descendants of her sent-away children. She reveled in the chaos. Together, in celebration, they brought to Earth a great musical roar that escalated into white noise, a bang that rocked, rolled, and was so dense it threatened to give birth to a galaxy. Silence ducked away and hid.


There was no more negative space between the trees, and no land between the the streams en route to sea. There was no void of sky. There was only a dense conglomeration of sound waves pressing on the blood filled veins of the women, a dense and aching pitch that was moments away from crushing the hearts of all.

That was when Sound softened and reached for her sister, who was cowering in the dark, covering her ears.

She found a soft tune and whistled it, slowing gradually, allowing the space between the notes grow, and finally pulling her sister from between them. Sound pulled Silence back into the little green forest on the delta, back to the Earth, back among the population that was still young enough to learn from its mistakes.

She lives there still, and if you hush for few long minutes, you cannot hear her at all.




Shawn McClure is a visual artist and writer who lives in central New Jersey with her family. Her work can be found in Kindred Magazine, Noble/Gas Qtrly, Entropy, and other places around the web.