Silver Cane

by Chris Castle

It wasn't that Rose couldn't talk; it's that she chose her words carefully. Her father always said she would watch and learn and smile but also wait. Her father learned to live with Rose's ways and the two of them smiled inside the silence. But Rose had a secret too and figured fewer words meant less chance of a mistake. So she went on, until the man with the walking cane began to spoil everything and then Rose knew she had to speak up.

She worked in an office on the outskirts of town, close enough to the desert that sand blew in from the car park. Rose knew she only got the job because her father knew the owner but she worked hard all the same. She filed the paperwork and made sure things were up to date. She enjoyed the peace of it; workings with paper, hearing it rustle under her fingers. At lunch she sat on the stone steps of the building and ate her food. In her breaks she sipped coffee from her window and watched the sand kick up. Sometimes the boss, Mr. Meacher, would ask her for a file and he would smile his thanks without speaking, as if hypnotized by Rose's silence.

On Fridays, her father would drive down and they would have lunch. It was her favorite part of the week; each time they would drive to a different place and order different things. Rose's late mother was a cook and Rose liked to think she took something of her in the way she enjoyed her food. And each time they ate, her father, as promised, would reveal something else about Rose's mother, a small secret, which would fill in another piece of the puzzle.

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