Sound of Silence
By Cait Collins
Sometimes when I’m working on a scene I find myself asking “what does the character hear?” In The city it could be the sounds of traffic; horns honking, brakes squealing, the crunch of fenders meeting each other. Or it could be noise from a school playground or a football stadium. A farm carries the noises of the animals. But sometimes the most deafening sound is silence.
Moria, the heroine in my current story, desperately needs to silence the death rattles and moans from the victims of an 8.2 earthquake. Moria was trapped beneath the rubble of a small school building in a remote village in Afghanistan. She is the sole survivor. In the pitch black of her prison, silence reigns. And in the absence of sound, she is afraid no one is available to rescue her.
On her trip across Route 66 she stops at a section of the old road near Lexington, Illinois. As Moria and her service dog, Muttley, walk the trail, she hears not the agony of the other victims’ she hears the bird song, a gentle breeze whistling through the trees, and the whisper of the grass in the wind. Slowly, the healing noise replaces the agonizing sounds of the dying. The daylight fades and in the early shades of night she hears the silence. Not the terrifying nothing but the calm that follows the storm. And in the silence she reaches for the future. It is in the silence she hears her own voice and her thoughts. And in hearing she begins to mourn.