Falling Into Silence

A short story.


High on tip-toes, the ball of the foot sweeping softly over the lacquered redwood floorboards seemed louder than any noise ever heard before. The room was so perfectly quiet that each soft foot step, foot arched and calves tense under the effort to meld perfectly into the night, reverberated through the hallway of this Victorian home. Off-white walls covered with shadows cast by the distant street lamps, yellowed by the years yet alive again as her shape danced upon its surface. One slow step after another. Despite the echo of her footsteps, she continued at the same pace, almost in a trance on her way through a home that used to be all hers.

The ball of her foot slipped into a softness, her body sliding backwards into a warmth that seemed inexplicably tight, drifting up her body as if a sleeping bag had been slipped around her. Tighter and tighter, the warmth enveloped her as she slide into some other world where a soft music played in the background. The warmth dissipated and was replaced with a fear. The world was squeezing her too tightly. She tried to scream but no sound arose from her throat, the tightness gripped around her neck, made breathing difficult and now the warmth running her was red-hot panic. She tried gasping. She tried to pull her arms up to pry off this invisible force but could see nothing beyond her blinded eyelids. The music got louder. The notes became staccato. It rose and fell with the beat of her heart, ever faster.

And then, suddenly, she was walking again.

She was back on her tip-toes, ballerina perfectly poised. The muscles remembered all that she had learned in her youth. Shoulders back. Stomach tensed towards her spine. Bottom tucked under. Arms sweeping from her sides to curve high above her head. The ground was no longer the floors of the place she'd once called home. Instead it was thick, hard, a soft texture that called her to reach out and touch it. As she lifted her heels higher and tensed her calves to spin, letters ran like ribbon around her midriff. She spun and spun, surrounded by this whisking ribbons of words. Jumbled, non-sensical, running over her as if water, never sticking, never quite tangible but creating a soft wind against her, slipping against the smooth fabric of her navy blue, almost purple leotard. Bringing her arms out in line with her shoulders, she could feel the texture of the arching floor. Her feet in a crevasse, the V-shape of her surrounds fluttering in the wind. She could hold on to these walls. These pages to which the letters belonged.

The story of her life whipping around her in a growing wind, the panic of the music getting louder and louder and yet she became one with it all. She was the words. She was the yellowed paper of these pages. She was the spinning ballerina, spinning like a top, losing momentum as the world around her became faster and faster.

And then she fell.

And fell.

And fell.

Through the darkness, the book slamming shut around her, the musty smell of an ancient text overwhelming her sensation of the world disappearing under her. Clawing upwards for the ribbons of letters, becoming aware of a wind rushing past her as she fell faster and faster.

As she fell, the years slipped off her skin. She began disappearing. She became the darkness. Silence and the night intertwined around her.

And then there was nothing but memories.

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