She sat

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Photo: Nicolas Peña Ortiz

She sat. She could hear the sounds of people on the street below.  The three, still faint, footsteps of her old neighbor, who proudly continued his promenades through the village despite the severe arthritis that had left him dependent on a cane. His footsteps… thud, thud, clack. The cane had a metal tip. It was almost like the incessant ring of a doorbell announcing his arrival and departure until he was out of earshot.

Today the clack was muffled by other sounds of life. The tinkering of bells as gentle waves lapped against the ships in the harbor, softly nudging them from side to side. Peals of laughter from holiday goers rushing to get a prime spot of real estate on an overcrowded beach. Thud, thud, clack. Louder now. Mixed in with the shouts of an altercation, or perhaps just an overzealous greeting. The sputtering engine of a Vespa as someone repeatedly, and futilely, turned the key in the ignition. Thud, thud, clack.

But all of this was no match for the droning in her head. A numbness that was both deafening and silent. It shrouded her. It made all the sounds around her reverberate. It was as if she could only hear the din of the world bouncing back at her off of a brick wall. Muted. Real, but only an echo of its true self. Trying to break through the curtain, trying to be more than just the ricochet of the real world.

She sat on her balcony. Staring at the shriveled leaves of a potted plant. She felt a bit dead inside herself. Thud, thud, clack. Quite distinct now. Closer. It pulled her attention away from the rotting plant to the mirror. It was strategically placed to offer a glimpse of life. Reflections of that real world smiled back at her. Real, but like the echoes, only a glimmer of their true beauty. The diamonds sparkling in the ripples of the ocean were not half as brilliant through the reflective eye in front of her. The fuchsia of the rose bushes lost all its vibrancy viewed through the speckled and smudged glass. The boats looked like mere toys bobbing up and down. There was no depth, no sense of the expansiveness of the world beyond the rims of the mirror. But just like the echoes, it was a safe way to take it all in. Flat, emotionless, innocuous. Exactly what she needed.

She sat. Thud, thud, clack. If she just turned around she could be a part of it all. But she was frozen. Trapped in the safety of echoes and reflections. Nothing could harm her here. Thud, thud, CLACK. Right below her. He had stopped. BUZZ! A sound so close that there was no space for it to echo through. It reached her. It dared her to turn around. It dared her to let the real world in. BUZZ! It challenged her. It tugged at the veil enveloping her. BUZZ! She gripped her chair. She looked into the mirror. Willing herself to turn around. BUZZ!