by Jessilyn Rich
The frigid air suffocated the world into a state of silence. Snowflakes falling in rhythmic patterns from the dark night sky. Petite white flakes thoroughly unaware of the biting cold turning my cheeks a bright gleaming shade of crimson. I stand as still as a statue, arms outstretched, and breathing deep. Closing my eyes tight, trying to freeze this feeling in my memories.
Despite the blistering cold and frozen flakes, not a single shiver slips down my spine as I just listen. Listening as hard as I can to the night. I know what time it must be, it must be close by now. I listen for the wailing through the darkness, it should be coming any moment. The wailing of the final train heading south, at the same time each night, robbing the world of it’s silence. It wails as it passes through the main street intersection before disappearing out of the city and into the night.
I knew the pattern by heart, waiting for its oppressive scream into the night. I strain a little harder trying to hear the engine before it’s whistle, but it never came. The deafening silence continued to bounce around the hollows of my ears. I wondered for a moment if I had the wrong time, but I knew the schedule in my bones. An engrained natural instinct from a life spent living along the tracks.
Maybe it was delayed because of the weather, it’s cars frozen to the tracks in the cold. Maybe at this very moment fires were being lit along the tracks to wake their aching bones and move the people where they needed to go. Maybe at this moment conductors were calling final boarding, and waving the train out of the station, but the harder I listened the more obvious the change in the world’s song had become.
The barking of the neighborhood dogs had disappeared into the darkness, the sobbing sirens of emergency vehicles had vanished into the lonely snow. The muscles of my face throbbed for release as I pulled my eyes shut a little harder, straining as hard as I could to hear the world in which I was familiar. Straining to hear anything, anything at all, but I could only hear the soft snowflakes landing on the ground. Everything else had been drowned by the darkness of the night.
Opening my eyes, I was surprised to find the snow was falling harder now. A small dusting of snow flakes clung to my outstretched arms, sticking to my jacket like melted jelly beans. I open my mouth and let soft flakes fall inside. This is what freedom tastes like, and I am free.
Categories: Arts & Culture