Over the soft hum of the furnace I can hear the rain outside. It spatters against the window-- a staccato pattering, devoid of rhythm, but gently soothing, even numbing, nonetheless. A thin branch scrapes against the bedroom window; but even so, my house seems unnaturally still, somber... withdrawn from the storm softly brewing in the restless day outside-- just as I am feeling restless and withdrawn from the storm softly brewing inside.
So I think to myself, Sit-- listen, hoping I can hear what my heart is trying to say. And I close my eyes and listen hard.
For a moment all I can hear is the electric whispering of the ceiling fan (the furnace has cut out), but even that light whooshing sound fades as the volume in the room ever-so-slowly sinks away and I am enveloped in a sort of intense silence. But after a moment or two of still, almost breathless listening, the silence begins to press hard around my head, against my ears, and even though I am breathless and the air seems pregnant with untold secrets, nothing interesting happens. I once read about knowing oneself through all of one's senses, so I decide that as my ears are not doing the trick, I will try out my nose. There is a smell of freshly laundered linens and a faint, spicy sweetness lingering in the air around the apple cinnamon holiday candle on the dresser, but neither really speaks to me of anything beyond clean laundry and stale remnants of holiday spirit. Taste? Sweetly sour orange chicken and rice, with a slightly even more sour twinge of disappointment in the new Chinese takeout place down at the corner. Touch: just the smooth keys of my laptop computer. And sight? So much to see: a grove of trees in the distance; the occasional car on a slick, shiny road; rain-battered leaves stuck in dampened heaps on my porch-- they have this trapped, desperate look of yearning, as if they want to float away on the wind rushing by, but are weighed down, too heavy. On the thin branch outside my bedroom window, the dripping pine needles glimmer like beaded light, and are heavy with rain droplets that fall to the ground-- plip-plop-plip-plop. So many things to see, and so many of them beautiful, but in the end they are simply sights, nothing beyond, nothing telling me anything, and I continue to be restless in the still restlessness of the afternoon.
An idea comes to me-- an old, childish trick I used to think would help me tap into a sixth sense (some sort of ESP!) if only I could master it-- and I close my eyes and try to block it all out, all the senses, maybe that is the key. I imagine blackness, but thoughts and sights keep creeping in, just as they always did. I shove them further back and concentrate; suddenly there is the blackest blackness I have ever imagined and it is pressing on me and whispering and I hold my breath and I can almost... understand... the... words....
But when the phone rings suddenly, shrill, louder than usual, insistent, I open my eyes and I am back in my quiet, still bedroom, with the faint smell of laundry detergent and apple cinnamon still in the air, staring out at a wet, windy day. I look at the clock and realize it is time to pick up the kids from school, so I hurry to find my shoes and keys with the hope of making it to the school on time for once; the restless weight on my heart is still heavy, but not unbearably so. Clasping my keys, I pause, leaning my head against the windowpane and staring blankly into the gray afternoon; I tell myself, I am a tempest inside a stillness inside a tempest. I pull myself away from the window and walk away, shake it all off, until Fun Cat and Happy Momma are showing and I find comfort in the knowledge that next week-- same time, same place-- I will have another chance to be alone, to investigate the storm inside, to know myself.
And for now, that is enough.
- WILLIAM commented:
- » 1/04/2006 2:14 PM
- LadyBug commented:
And next week you will turn off the phone, right?
That was amazing, Cat. Really.
- » 1/04/2006 2:32 PM
- kalki commented:
You put so well into words exactly what I've experienced but can't express. Thanks for that - this spoke to my writer's soul and my inner tempest.
- » 1/04/2006 10:39 PM
- Bente commented:
- » 1/05/2006 4:24 AM
- mrtl commented:
I am tempted to say something Obiwanesque but shall refrain. This was too beautifully written to mock.
- » 1/05/2006 1:49 PM
- Amy commented:
This was like a little vacation for the mind, Cat. Lovely.
When I was a kid I used to stare into the middle of a candle flame like Henry Sugar.
- » 1/11/2006 7:23 AM