is there noise in silence?

adult alone blur close up

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

When recently rifling through a slush pile of started-but-never-finished blog posts, I came across one I remembered where noise in silence appeared to be the topic. I thought about what is silence and the absence of it.  Are we ever really in a state of silence? I thought I’d pick up where I left off writing this one, allowing a nonfiction recording segue into a fictional scene.

Distractions keep pace with my foot travels. Like any good shadow, distractions cling to our thoughts when we are alone, are mingling with others, are in the quiet of our closed-door offices or are in the chaos of open public spaces.

My fidgety brain draws a sight map that tracks sensory stimulation of movement, sound and smell like a great horned owl zeroing in on a tiny mouse or a busy beagle to a rabbit. Plotted locations record the distraction—the noise in screeching and stampeding of children in a park, the hum of electricity from office copy machines, the buzz of overhead lights, computers matching frequencies and multiplying in decibels. A library or bookstore pits quiet against any noise maker—conversational chatter, a dropped book, a pulling in of a chair, canceling silence in its confrontation.

Noise blooms in the expected quiet while I sit alone in a closed room poised to record the noise I hear in silence.

A well-rounded woman, dressed in a wool pencil skirt and cashmere cardigan under a tailored trench coat, slides her curvy hips into the driver’s vinyl seat. After rustling a ring of keys in one hand, with the other she plucks the car key and turns it in the ignition. The engine erupts in belting puffs of exhaust pushing through the tail pipe caused by a black stilettoed heeled foot depressing the gas pedal. With a straight back and a lean into the rear view mirror, she pauses to stare at her reflection while her slender index finger slides along her plump ruby stained lips. With one last glance, she pulls her black sunglasses down from atop her bleached wavy hair and securely positions them on her nose, covering her eyes blackened by thick eyeliner and heavy mascara. She sits back in her seat.

The pause feels like hours while she stares from her car into the front picture window of the house across the street where she left years ago. She smiles revealing her mind’s presence, overcome with memories. She backs out of the driveway and onto the street in a blast of acceleration. The engine quiets as the car narrows into the distance

The cars’ tires roll over gravel then squealing brakes assist the car into a slow roll into a parking space parallel to the babbling river. The silence of the afternoon is detectable, with only the soft prayers of Mother Nature singing a canary’s song and rustling of the wavy leaves from the birch trees keeping rhythm. With a snap of the door handle and a shove with her elbow, she opens the car door, steps out, and chases her wayward tan coat as it opens with the shift of her body and a whirring breeze. Her ankles begin to wobble with popping and shifting gravel as she walks to the river’s edge. The loosening of gravel stops. Her feet are still.  Her breath is shallow in anticipation as she inhales through her mouth, gasping, and exhaling through her nose, forcing air through small passages. She takes off her sunglasses, displacing strands of yellow hair streaking her face, and stands in the shadows of thinning brush lined up along the river’s banks. She studies the distance. With the back of her hand shading her eyes from the sun’s reflection, her shout overrides the lapping water as she waves a directional hand. A pontoon boat nears and then squeals upon its halt at the grassy edge. A young boy, dressed in shorts and t-shirt, slides his naked thigh over the wet rubber, creating squeaks as his leg finds solid ground. Laughter erupts as the boy runs, his feet tapping wild, long grass then imprinting the gravel, displacing stones. His short arms extend to wrap around his mother’s  thighs uniting them in sight and soul. Loving smiles are exchanged as they stare at each another, she wiping wet hair from his moist forehead, he holding tight.

They breathe in unison falling into a rhythm showing he is of her. She recognizes this face, cradled in her hands, as the one she once imagined in the picture window.

My mind quiets. The noise was in the silence.


6 thoughts on “is there noise in silence?

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