Listening to Silence
She suddenly realized there was silence, enough that a slight ringing in her ears from concerts long forgotten and headphones long lost were largely responsible for causing. Her own breath echoed in her ears. Slowly, nearby sounds made themselves known; creaks in the house, a hot water heater or some other distant device in the bellows of the building kicking itself off to work for a time. The occasional squawk and creek bleeped from various creatures outside her opened windows. A truck rushed past and obliterated all other sound with it’s bluster, diesel engine roaring and loosely scattered equipment rattling with every uneven bump and divot in the roadway. She never liked trucks.
She rolled onto her back and held her gaze on the vague gray blur of the ceiling above. Her eyelids felt heavy and slid into place, briefly fought but in a battle convincingly lost. She felt her pulse throb in her ears, her heart talking to her through a staccato rhythm played out on her pillow. Her mind drifted, thought tilted, and she dreamed.
He walked by the car that was once his own, pausing briefly while shaking his head and stepping into his “new” used car. It wasn’t quite the same, even if it was theoretically better than the old one. He missed the feel of it, its smell, the way it handled. He knew its quirks and when he could push it, or when he had to lay off. Something he never really figured out with her.
He let the engine run a bit before shifting into gear and accelerating beyond sight of his old favorite car. His new one would have to do.
Her eyes opened. There had been a car engine roar, but that was nothing new; the perils of living on a busy street. Well, that and the occasional adventure of trying to leave when everyone was rushing to work. She glanced at the clock. One of the perks of working a later shift is sleeping in and not having to use an alarm. She stretched and slowly rolled out of bed, trying to shake sleep from her eyes.
She took a peek in the mirror. Her hair was all over the place, including some strands that were plastered across her forehead. On some days that might freak her out. Or make her angry. Today it made her laugh.
She couldn’t remember her dreams, but they felt vivid and real regardless. Almost as if she had argued with someone about the word irregardless. There might have been an irony involved. If it was a good dream, she was pretty sure there was.
She flitted with the coffee machine and started running water for a shower. She wandered to her phone to check the news, but then thought better of it and merely checked the weather. Cool now, then hot, then showers/t-storms, then probably muggy and gross, and then cool. Maybe. She went and closed the windows before she forgot. She settled into the shower and let the water run down her hair and back.
A tune found itself emerging from her lips, toneless at first, but then building in burbles and spurts as she turned and faced the falling water. She sang in the shower; no one to hear, to judge, or criticize. Even the doubting voices within her could join in.
After she went through the ensuing motions of drying and dressing, she grabbed a mug of black coffee and stepped outside on the deck. She breathed in the dark vapors and let her mind clear. The dark trees before her, teeming with unseen life within. She let her mind wander and daydream.
He sat on the beach, eyeing the small waves crashing on shore. His windbreaker served its purpose today; gusts blowing in from the storm quickly forming offshore. He held his hat, finding it useless in the onslaught and unwilling to risk losing it. Only a few other souls were nearby, generally plodding along the sand with a few letting the cool water dance over their bare feet. Seabirds tailed any and every person they saw, flying awkwardly in the gusts that seemingly tossed them in every direction at once.
He leaned back, letting the salty air wash over him. Time lost, memories firing last shots before being pushed within. A dog ran by, its owner fruitlessly trying to throw it a frisbee that soon sailed over a dune. The dog’s ears went up, but it appeared to point at the no access sign and chastise its owner. The man laughed off the dog’s concerns.
The dog approached him and said hello. He scratched its head in turn. He stood. The wind was that much more pronounced just a few feet off the ground. He opened his arms and the dog ran on. He closed his eyes, hearing vague shouts, barks, bird calls, the wind, and waves crashing to thunderous applause.