Dispatch № 49: Hushed
How is it that the quiet of the night differs from one place to the next? You’d think quiet is quiet, but it has varieties, much in the way that sunlight takes on different nuances in different parts of the world.
I notice it most late at night when I’m writing in bed, a pressing idea keeping me awake.
The wind outside gusts sharply. The neighbor’s garden, an overgrown expanse of green just beyond our balcony, sits silently until the wind calls upon every leaf and branch to rustle at a perceived volume that makes one wish for a stronger word to describe it.
In relative terms, it’s a cacophony, and it seems so because it has otherwise been so tremendously quiet that minute sounds are magnified.
Quiet enough that I can clearly hear the rhythmic clacking of trains passing more than a kilometer away. Not the sounding of the horn, just the rolling of smooth wheels on well-maintained rails, reduced to a whisper over the intervening distance.
Quiet enough to hear the soft footfalls of some unknown animal threading its way through the tall weeds behind the building. When I try to picture what it might be, something about the rhythm of the steps brings to mind the masked palm civet I’ve seen down there before.
Quiet enough that even the scratching of my fountain pen nib on the paper seems so noisy that it might wake my partner. The cat is stretched out between us, and I instinctively hold my breath if I move just a little too much and he stirs. His purr is also quite prominent in this hushed environment, and it starts up automatically whenever he is disturbed.
He usually goes back to sleep, though, and she rarely wakes. I go back to writing, often wishing I had chosen a quieter pen.