She had forgotten how good it felt to get lost in a book.

After morning rising, she turned the delicate velvety pages with a cup of hot water and lemon and a bowl of aromatic oatmeal. The window was open, the cool dawn air sifting through the screen, a single bird chirping its lullaby in perfect time outside. No rabbits on the lawn, no groundhogs apparent, and all the night creatures – raccoons, possums – were gone.

The house was so quiet. In the night, she’d dreamt that her youngest son was taunted by a religious family and so she took him on a foot-journey far away from the world he’d known. She woke in the crystal dark, wondering what it all meant.

At night, instead of the blaring television, she flipped those soft pages yet again, entranced by the characters and their web of relationships. The scenery, the journeys, both inward and outward, were so compelling, she forgot why she had spent all those months watching reruns of shows she’d already seen many times.

Even meals started to taste different. It’s only food, a friend had said, but she distinctly remembered enjoying the journey of taste and flavor, the anticipation, the aroma, the sensory experience, and the satisfaction of being satisfied. Sure, a new meal came every few hours so it really was just food, nothing to get all excited about, but what was life without excitement?

She had forgotten the gem that was silence.

She had forgotten that early morning could be a prayer in itself.

She had forgotten that words dancing on a page were a supreme gift and, when done well, a fine art.

She had forgotten how the world shuts down mostly, people tuning out and oblivious to what matters and what is real, choosing instead the many illusions.

In the absence of inane conversation, she found she didn’t always have to speak. That silence and noticing were far more important, satisfying.

And even with all this, her days were full – beyond full! – with so much meaning, she laughed when thinking of the possibility of folding back in the old ways.

That’s the way it is, she told herself late in the dark night. Like hamsters on a wheel, we mostly run and run and run, without relief, without sense, never knowing what we’re running to. Or from.

Recommended book: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan.

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