I’ve been waking up earlier than usual over the past few days as though there is an internal restlessness, as though my subconscious is tuned in to something just on the periphery of my awareness. Since I’m already a morning person, this means that I’m up around 5:30 am. There is a stillness at this time that permeates the air, heavy yet comforting. Other than the gentle humming of the central heat and the fridge as they kick off and on, maintaining the ambient temperature of their respective charges, there are no discernible sounds.
As I walk to the kitchen, my footfalls interject their soft accompaniment. Clip. Clap. The rhythmic sound of my bare feet contacting the cold laminate flooring, adhering for a moment only to be released with that distinctive sound. Clip. Clap. The word padding slips into my mind. I smile inwardly as my mind randomly flashes me an image of Paddington Bear.
I reach my destination and the thick silence returns briefly before I shatter it by turning on the faucet. The gushing, rushing sound of cold water cascading from a pressurized pipe is deafening and familiar at the same time. A microcosm of a waterfall. An image of Niagara Falls graces my mind’s eye. I smile inwardly again. Filling the electric kettle, the distance travelled by the water is reduced, thus damping the water’s roar. I pull the kettle from under the faucet. Holding it upright, I gauge the meniscus curve. Not enough. Once again, my own Niagara Falls is muted by the return of the kettle under it’s powerful flow. From my previous assessment, I was close, so only a few moments longer are required. There is an audible squeak as the faucet is turned off.
Replacing the kettle back on it’s base, and intermixed with the sloshing of the water within the kettle itself, I hear the distinct click as the contacts connect the two disparate but dependent pieces. A further click completes the ritual as I depress the on button, completing the electrical circuit and brining the marvel of technology to life. Though I cannot see electricity, I hear the outcome of its work. The water starts to dance, rolling and twisting over itself, communicating it’s joy or its pain. Boiling and bubbling, that familiar gurgling sound that often starts my day.
The next few moments are replete with the remainder of the morning coffee making sounds. The gentle scratching of the spoon within the bag of Starbucks Caramel flavoured coffee as it’s carefully transported to the French press. The sound of the my Ursula coffee mug being gently placed on the faux marble countertop. The shifting, tinkling sound of white granulated sugar being poured onto the tilted table spoon, overflowing into the mug itself, a transparent act of false measurement that fools no-one. And the final sound of my chocolate almond milk, splashing through the surface tension.
With this ritual complete, I pad over to my usual spot on the couch and pull my laptop onto my lap. There, the returned silence is punctuated by the clack of my keyboard as I punch in my login and password. I fire up the various news sites and start my morning reading, allowing the complete silence safe passage back to being. It is as it was before, caressed on its edges by the faint whir of both the fridge and the central air. Though it is not absolute silence, it is whole.
Then I hear it before my awareness can catch up, before I can make sense of it, understand it.
That buzzing. The incessant buzzing.
And then, without warning, the boom.
Sudden. Sharp. Staccato.
It shatters the stillness, breaking the bonds of silence like shears through silk. Immediate and profound. A sonic boom in its own right, breaking through a different barrier.
It causes an immediate increase in my blood pressure, my heart rate spiking. Fight or flight. Except only fight exists in this moment.
It is the sound of death.
That poor little fly never had a chance.
And as though it was never disrupted, never broken, silence returns.