Loud Silence

January 2, 2012
By , Adel, IA
The front door of her home rattles as she slams the door shut. The blue paint is chipping and the door should have been replaced long ago, but she's too irate to notice. The matching blue porch steps creak under her bare feet as she hurries towards the sidewalk, a sharp chill rising through her body as soon as her skin touches the cement. A loud crash is heard inside the house, along with the cry of curses, before her father emerges out of the blue door, his balding head a contradicting red and his scarred arm shaking towards the girl. He wants her to return. She keeps running, and doesn't look back to see her father retreat back into the house. She knows that he won't follow.
Dark clouds lace the grey sky, and soon ethereal snow flakes start falling. She keeps running, her heavy breathing escaping like a heavy cloud of smoke. Her destination is only two blocks away, but the sharp, cold pain she has with each step makes it seem farther. She watches her naked feet as she runs; their swift movement as they go back and forth, faster and faster. She dodges pedestrians without looking, ignores their protests, makes no eye contact. She counts the cracks, trying to keep her mind occupied, trying not to cry. Finally, she slows to a walk and then stops in front of the local recreation center. People in winter coats, ranging from toddlers to elders, all give curious looks to the girl with no shoes and a long, serrated scar stretching down her face. She walks inside, trying to pretend the people and the stares aren't really there.
The lady at the front desk recognizes the girl and gives her a knowing nod before going in the back to fetch a swimsuit. This is their routine. The woman hands the tattered red swimsuit over wordlessly, and the girl accepts it, offering a small smile in return.
Much to the girl's disappointment, the pool is full today. Kids scream and laugh as their heads bob up and down in the water, and a group of senior citizens are taking a water aerobics class in the shallow end's corner. The radio's playing a loud hip-hop song, and the water aerobics teacher's counting chant matches the song's beat. The girl walks along the deep end's tiled edge, her feet feeling the gentle lap of the lukewarm water as she steps closer. She pulls her long pale hair into a low ponytail, securing it with a rubber band from home, and dives into the water somewhat awkwardly. As soon as her head sinks into the water, the loud echoing noise from the surface is muted. She opens her eyes, seeing only the white walls of the pool and blurry legs from above. She moves her arms and legs, this time moving more gracefully, and she swims lower and lower into the clear water before reaching the bottom. She breaths out, watching hundreds of bubbles rise to the top, and crosses her legs, sitting easier on the grainy bottom. She watches the light dance on the surface of the pool, twirling and spinning like the water's own personal ballet. Her lungs start to ache, but she stays down longer, not wanting to leave quite yet, even for something as essential as air. She closes her eyes, and listens to the silence; the beautiful, sweet sounding silence.

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