The Sound of Silence

An extract from the new work in progress, provisionally titled The Greenhouse.

He’s gone. How does she feel?

Silence is what she feels.

And the silence is terrible. Pre-earthquake. Savage. An absence. A hole which has her screaming into it where are you now? But she can’t hear anything. She makes no impression. There’s no echo, no reply.

And there is worse to come.

Just as she is getting used to the silence, this snowiness in the ears, this death calm, then comes the noise… Because there is a place beyond and however aching and hollow and hard the silence is, it is a treat, a picnic, a blissful emptiness, a positively pleasant purgatory compared to what follows.

The terror of a door closing.

The calamity of a dog barking.

The crashing, crushing noise of a pin falling, finding ground.

Any of which might signify him coming back.

But none, of course, does.

Now she cannot move without a pillow pushed to her ears. She is in the garden, in an armchair on casters she has rolled from the house. Some of its stuffing is hanging out, its pale flowers littering the lawn like she litters the chair with her messy hair and her dirty nails and her unwashed pyjamas and through her pillow headphones the birds are cackling and the trees are mocking her sighs and even the sun, failing to push through the clouds, is throbbing noisily to remind her she won’t ever feel him breathing next to her again.

She stands, trailing too-long pyjama bottoms through the damp grass. She goes back into the house, through the collapsing conservatory to the dining room. She picks up the CD player from the far, dusty corner. She trails outside again. She puts the player on a picnic table next to her chair and turns the volume to 10 and Fleetwood Mac go their own way through the trees, the grass, the birds’ nests, the sound bouncing back from the house, trying and failing to block out the pennies dropping in her head.