Loud and Quiet
She turned the music down so she could hear.
Cars rumbled out on the street. Somewhere, a truck was backing up with a slow and steady beep. In the distance, someone shouted. The bustle of the city was too much. It drowned things out. She couldn’t hear at all.
She drove out to the hills. She walked for hours until she was alone and then tilted her head, listened. The wind blew through the grass and birds chirped. Sheep called out from the next valley over. No, this wasn’t right either. It was too loud. She needed somewhere else.
She went to her local university. They owned a fully soundproof chamber, available to rent by the public for hundred pounds an hour. She didn’t need that long, of course. She just wanted some quiet, so she could hear.
She walked in. She tightened her hands into fists, loosened them again, waiting for the technicians to leave her. When she was finally alone in the room, she stilled her breath. Her ears slowly attuned to the low, thumping bass of her own heartbeat. She swallowed drily, an obscene, smacking sound.
This would not do.
This did not work at all.
It was just too loud.
She could not hear a thing.
She reached into her handbag. The knitting needle caught into the zipper, which made a loud rattle, and she couldn’t help but cringe. She plunged it into her ears, one at a time, piercing the eardrums. Then, driven by rage, she flailed and stabbed the needle into her arms, her chest. For a few moments, the noise was terrible.
She found herself on the floor, bleeding, trying to stifle her sobs even though she could no longer hear them.
In the growing silence of her own mind, she tried, again, and again, vainly, to listen.
She heard nothing.