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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: One Twenty-One


One last glance at the glowing digits; it's one twenty-one in the morning. My bed is warm and I feel swaddled like a babe. I can feel the weight of wakefulness lift as limb after limb my muscles finally relax. Ah, how I've waited for this moment. Thoughts flicker in and out, and scene upon dreamy scene floats in as I drift out.

My eyelids, heavy with newest sleep, suddenly fly open. Startled they flit to and fro, trying to focus in the dark. Drowsiness has me pinned. I can't move! All I can do is listen. Cold sweat trickles down my face. No...it can't be!

Oh, how I've dreaded this moment—this sound—so invasive, so piercing!

I've prayed that I would not have to hear this, not now, not ever! My sheet is knotted around my legs... I can't turn! This sound—this haunting, chilling sound—is here in my room? But I was prepared. Month after month I poured over books and manuscripts. I've sought advice from everyone, even strangers. This isn't happening!

Maybe it's not real. Perhaps I'm dreaming. Yes, that's it. I've read it somewhere, that one can dream of being awake, yet be sound asleep. I'm not hearing this at all. I'm sound asleep and dreaming.

Ah yes, a more familiar sound—the soothing sound of breathing. Oh, I can hear my husband's breathing. I can hear the stop and go of his moist breath. I can hear the sudden stabs of air relax into more placid, peaceful puffs. I can hear them unfurl, then drift away. Wait...

This is all too real. I'm not sleeping at all. I can hear!

Nothing can drown the intruder's quest to unsettle and upset. Not even these familiar, peaceful sounds. Oh Lord, I've prayed for sleep—restful, peaceful sleep. How I miss it! My eyes burn and my head throbs. This sound cuts. It slices through bone and marrow right into the heart—my heart! Its chill digs deep and I can feel it tear into my newest dreams.

Oh, let me dream; let me dream about that little condo by the creek. No grass to mow or weeds to pull, no painting or hours of cleaning. We'll have more time, just the two of us, plenty of time, now that we're... Oh, why does my heart hurt so? These tears—these uncontrollable sobs—why won't they stop?

It's that sound. It hurts! Why did it have to come, why? Why now? It's so awfully loud. It's moved inside my head. I can't breathe, can't swallow fast enough; I'm drowning in my own tears.

Oh, please Lord, don't let it wake Rick! It's enough that I should hear it, that I should feel its fangs and taste its ruthless poison.

I cannot bear it for another moment. Please Lord, take it—this sound of silence—let it be gone! I can't sleep! Bid it leave, Lord, please! I beg you, calm these choking, heaving sobs and help me breathe.

Please, stop this droning silence and let me hear, once again, the garage door open and then close. Please, let me hear the stifled thump of music beneath my tired ear.

Oh, let me hear the door! Let me hear the shuffle of his feet! Please, let me hear once more those familiar sounds. And let me see that shaft of yellow light, that lanky silhouette, that handsome smile...

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This article has been read 495 times
Member Comments
Member Date
c clemons09/18/09
The descriptive writing was excellent. I got the title and that was all. The story itself did not make any sense, if you want to bring the reader in then it has to draw them into the MC's struggle, not just with descriptions.
Joy Faire Stewart09/20/09
The vivid descriptions of the mother's anxiety and depression finding herself an emptynester is so sad. Some equate it, at the time, as a death.
Ada Nett09/24/09
I got it...I knew all along that you were describing the loud sound of silence...good job!
Lisa Johnson09/25/09
I got it, too! Sometimes silence can be deafening... especially when you want so desperately to hear those familiar sounds that tell you all your chicks are safely in the nest for the night.
Allen Stark09/26/09
Yes, it was very clear to me from the very beginning. And I agree. Silence can sometimes be deafening.