Sounds of Silence

This was my entry in the Shawville Fair 2023 – Writing – fiction

The streets were quiet. Not surprising, I suppose, given the hour I was walking home. Quiet save for the crunch crunch reverberating off the high rise buildings lining the other side of the street. I marvelled at how, on this morning more than, say, yesterday, or the day before, I could distinctly identify that crunching noise, and the scientist in me momentarily took control of my thoughts as visions of sound waves and rockets and electricity and continents flashed before me. There was nothing preventing the child-like smile which crept across my face as I allowed the thoughts to cascade forth with complete abandon.

Lost footing on a piece of ice brought me quickly back to my surroundings, and I barely regained balance before something worse than a jolt of adrenaline disturbed my musings. The sun was starting her ascent in the east and seemed to be promising … “Promising what?” I wondered aloud, adding to the broken quiet. The snow had already begun to retreat and while I looked around, almost expecting an answer to my question, I allowed myself to indulge in the <want> which was building inside me. The want which I guess can be likened to spring fever. Changing of the season. Rebirth. Fresh start. I sighed and continued adding my own crunch, crunch to the sound of silence offered by the lonely street upon which I strolled. “Promising another chance” I finally finished my thought and pulled my collar tighter against the rising breeze.

Ah, the sounds of silence – my mind came back to the starting point of this, my most recent reflection. I don’t do this enough, I thought. I don’t let this – gesturing with my minds eye to the street, the snow, the air, the sun, the morning, the spring, the smells, the silence – I don’t let this come to me. I always let my own ambitious and impatient energy drive me to chase life and in that chase I never get to… I kicked a rock on the sidewalk and it skittered off the walk and into the street with much more velocity than I had intended and momentarily threatened a collision with a vehicle on the other side. Again, my conversation with myself was arrested and I issued forth with another sigh.

Another chance, I thought. Sure. Like that would make a difference. Another chance. How many chances am I going to get before I get it right? How many chances before time runs out? I could feel the strangled desire to succeed struggle against the bosom of possibility, all the while feeling my own frustration rise. And it kept rising with every foot fall on the broken sidewalk, every crosswalk, every shortcut I took on this, my walk of shame.

Again, with nothing but the crunching remainder of winter to entertain me, I was allowed to follow the threads of these seemingly random thoughts. Walk of shame. “Right” I said aloud not even sure why, and certainly completely unaware of to whom I would be saying such a thing. I always got my way and always succeeded at things, but found this current situation unnerving. Should I be ashamed? Should I be embarrassed coming home? What if my failings are found out and I arrive home to questioning eyes and judgements? Do I tell the truth or do I come up with some other fabrication of my increasingly creative mind? What if my failings portend to greater shortcomings and against all manner of hope I am destined to fail? The perfectionist in me cringed and came to my defence flashing image after image of past successes in a bid to bolster my threatened esteem.

I noticed that the distance home was being eaten up too quickly by my gait, and so I slowed. Purposefully. And as if by design, the snow on this portion of the sidewalk had completed disappeared and I was left yet again with an ear splitting silence accompanied by the sound of my own heart beating seemingly directly against my ear drums. Pum-pump, pum-pump, pum-pump. There was nothing to do but stop. Simply stop. Right there. Right then. And breath. And so I stood there: sun rising, breeze blowing, snow melting, heart beating and I breathed deeply. I allowed impatience to be overwhelmed with all of the things that were chasing me and I closed my eyes to better allow them full rein.

After what seemed like an eternity but which was most certainly only a few moments, I felt hope seep back into my being. I can do this. I can! My gait quickened once again, and silence or not, I could not tell, as my mind was running through the various things I was going to do differently when I got to my destination. This walk of shame would be my last.

On the threshold, I paused. Took one last big breath to anchor my countenance and quietly opened the door I had left unlocked as I had left the house not so long ago. Newly acquired butter in hand, I ventured forth once again in my attempt at that damn hollandaise sauce with the sounds of silence replaced now by the stirrings of a house preparing for the breakfast for which my walk of shame found purpose.