The Sound of Silence
In her Quiet Place
The old woman sits quietly in the dimly lit room, typing furiously. There are no pictures on the wall to distract her, no people walking past, and no radios blaring. The lamp shade is tilted just so, to illuminate only herself and the computer screen. There are dozens of books stacked upon her large wooden desk, a few pictures of family sitting on the top shelf, and her computer in front of her. The room is eerily quiet, but she likes it this way. There is no one to bother her. To her, this little room is blissful. There are no cars honking as they speed by, there are no children gawking or pestering her to come and play, and she hears no voices down the hall. All she hears is silence, blissful silence.
Here, she needs no pictures on the wall to spark her imagination because she has her dreams to enliven her. In this little obscure room she can envision rugged men such as the famous Daniel Boone and others, dressed in coonskin caps, and leather jackets running through the forest or swimming across some raging river. She can imagine what it was like to hunt for deer, antelope, or bear, using only a flintlock rifle and a knife, while watching for savage beasts lurking around each bend or behind every bush, while always pushing onward and never looking back. She can walk with them as they seek new horizons and adventures. She is one of them, at least for a little while.
Perhaps she has traveled to this land, albeit in a later era. Most likely she once lived there, perhaps in her youth, and knows the terrain well. Or maybe she simply knows about Tom Sawyer and other great adventurers from all the books she has read. Undoubtedly she has listened to some old man, sitting at the bar, telling wild tales of the adventures he played a part in as a youth, or how his family journeyed to this place so long ago. Or perchance her ancestors, the Cherokee, visit her each night in her dreams, haunting her until she is compelled to tell their story. Dreams can be magical when they invade one’s mind to the point that they become real. They are much like a separate existence, or an alternate plane, where heroes often come to life for those of us who believe.
Who knows why she types so feverishly each night. Is she retelling a story handed down for generations? Is she merely making up a story or fantasy? Is she compelled to put her dreams on paper for the entire world to see? Perhaps she has a yearning to get the words out of her head and onto the paper before they fade away into nothingness. Perhaps she is simply compelled to stop everything, thinking only of writing a few short words, which inevitably become the whole story.
Who knows why she writes when she knows she should be doing other things, but she cannot help herself. Compulsion can be a powerful tool when it causes one to go without sleep or even refreshment to accomplish something worthwhile. As the half eaten apple, the normally white flesh turned dark, lying on the table beside her demonstrates that she cannot eat, sleep, or do anything else until she has put all her thoughts on paper. It is almost as if her fingers are an extension of her mind, as they seem to know what she is thinking or dreaming of at any given moment.
This woman has also researched her characters well and wants to get her story just right. There is evidence of this in the manuscripts lying on the table, strewn about as if they have been written and rewritten. There are also the books stacked upon the table, some open and some closed, which proves she has put much thought into her work. The woman’s eyes also give away her steadfastness as they stare straight at the paper, turning neither right nor left as she studies each and every word she types, her concentration never broken. Yet her hands ache so, for they are gnarled and worn. But she keeps typing tirelessly on into the night; she knows she’ll rest only when her work is done.
Here in this dimly lit room I can imagine what it was like for a young girl traveling through the vast Arizona desert in the 1860s, or I can write about the adventures of a young girl who has lived in an age before computers and video games. Here, I can also revisit the old ghost town of my youth, or I can write about my wildest dreams. Like the old woman, who incidentally is me, I am happy as I sit quietly in my little corner of the world, writing and typing, typing, and writng.