“Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!”
I looked up from my book.
At first there was nothing. Then an old-fashioned police telephone box from the 1950s appeared in front of the library desk.
The whooshing stopped.
The door opened. A woman with an attractive pixie haircut leaned out, smiling broadly.
“Hello!” she said.”Good morning! Is it morning? I hate to be a bother, Miss, but would you mind telling me what year it is?”
“It’s 2018,” I said.
“Drat,” said the woman. “I’m early. Again. Well, might as well bide my time.”
The woman came out of the police box. She was wearing a bright yellow a-line dress with deep pockets.
“Pleased to meet you,” she said. “I’m the Doctor. Some people call me Elisa, which is odd because it’s not my name. The Doctor.”
Jenn poured a splash of bourbon into the teacup. It had been one of those days. Still, the last of the children was finally in bed, and she was alone.
Or so she thought.
Jenn sat down with the tea and a small tin of rum balls her friend had sent her for Christmas. She put her feet up on the ottoman. In a few minutes, she really had to start writing. Deadlines were piling up, as they always did. And the children would be up wanting kisses and drinks of water and clean diapers within an hour. But the silence was so delightful, she took a moment just to revel in it.
Suddenly, the television flashed on of its own accord. Snow flared on the screen; it cleared to reveal a black and white video of an abandoned well. Out of the well came a scraggly girl, gray-skinned, with her hair combed over her face. The girl crawled to the screen as if it were a barrier. One hand actually shot out of the television into the living room. She looked up at Jenn.
“Hello,” she said. “I’m a volunteer for the Franciscan University Phone-a-Thon. Have you considered a charitable donation to your alma mater?”
Ephrem slammed the laptop shut in frustration. Enough was enough. Some people were not worth arguing with.
The phone rang. He noted the number, shuddered, and rejected the call. Then, after a moment’s thought, he turned the phone off. He stuffed it under a pillow for good measure, though he was sure it wouldn’t help.
There was a knock at the door. He suspected as much, and ignored it.
Moments later, too quickly for someone to run around the back, there was a tap at the back screen door. Ephrem was relieved that he’d locked it. He went upstairs to take a shower.
He was a little surprised, and very grateful he hadn’t disrobed yet, when the internet troll came oozing out of the tap, still wearing his bow tie and suit, still shouting lame insults as he came.
Quiet echoed throughout the halls of the cloister.“I could stay here forever,” thought Kevin.
It wasn’t the absence of noise– that could be gotten from a good set of ear plugs. This was quiet, true quiet, and with it the sleepy sounds that only enhanced the quiet. Trees whispered to one another in the garden. Somewhere, the scratching of a rake rasped over a dry garden bed. Somewhere else was the jangling of the cat’s collar. Far and away, you could hear the highway, but it seemed as though that noise was coming from another world.
But even that thought seemed too loud to be reverent in the gentle quiet of the cloister. He adjusted his legs into another yogic pose, and surrendered to the calm.
To quote the immortal James Thurber: if you keep on long enough, it turns into a novel.
(image via Pixabay)