Unspoken Messages

“When a woman is silent, listen to her carefully, son.”

“How can I listen to her if she’s not talking?”

I pulled the sheets over my son’s body after he crawled into bed. “Listening doesn’t always happen with your ears. You can listen with your eyes too, you know.”

“How do I do that?”

“You do it a lot already I’m sure. How does your teacher get you to quiet down?”

“Well, she usually counts. But sometimes she stands there and waits for us to be quiet.”

I tucked the blanket around him and sat on the edge of his bed. “There you go, she doesn’t say anything when she’s standing and waiting, but you stop talking anyway, right?”

His eyes widened and he smiled. “Oh, okay. So it’s like a code? I have to figure out what a girl’s trying to say even when she won’t say it?”

I nodded. “Now you’ve got the idea.”

Before I could get up to turn his lights off, he spoke up. “Do you do that with Mom?”

“All the time.”

“Like when?”

“When she falls asleep reading on the couch, I know to pull a blanket over her.”

“So she doesn’t get cold.”

“Right, and when she gives me the look.” I tried to mimic it, glaring at my son before all seriousness shattered with his grin.

“Oh, that one! You’re in trouble.”

“Exactly. Or when she holds my hand while I’m driving. That’s the way she lets me know she loves me.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier just to tell you? Like when my teacher wants us to be quiet, or when mom wants you to know she loves you.”

“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Actions speak louder than words’?”

He paused and shook his head. “What does that mean?”

“It means sometimes, it’s better to show someone how you feel than tell them.”

His eyelids fluttered and he hummed an answer. I bent and pressed my lips to his forehead before stepping toward the light switch, flipping it off, and sliding the door shut. I wandered down the hall and opened the door to the master bedroom.

My wife looked up from her novel. “Hey, what took so long?”

“I was telling him a secret.”

“Oh yeah? Am I allowed to ask or should I leave it between you two?”

I climbed into bed beside her as she curled up. “Not allowed to tell.” I pecked her on the lips.

“Alright, don’t tell me.” Her eyes narrowed before she looked back to her book with a smirk.

I grinned before I rolled over, falling asleep in minutes. I woke a couple hours later to find her shivering in the light of her lamp with her book still open, face down on her chest. I slipped it from her hands, saved the page, and set it on my night table. I reached behind her head and turned her lamp off.

I folded her into my arms and drew the covers over us. “You already know.”

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