in a room with another person

Clattering keyboardI’m in a room with another person.  The other person is (like myself) reading.  (Unlike myself) reading a book.

Not watching the tele.

Not streaming a YouTube mix.

Not listening to a radio channel on a mobile phone.

I can hear the sounds of this room.

This room with another person.

First and foremost, a little too assertively I must say, the clatter of my keyboard as I write these lines.

Second, every so often, the swish of a page being turned.  That swish which includes the memory of a very pale brown paper; its gentle roughness like the tongue of a lover.

In the background, meantime, the tick-tock of the clock.  (You do know even battery-powered clocks can tick-tock their way through the day, if you listen hard enough.)

In the kitchen, down the hall, the gentle and occasional clack of implements on pans.  The shush of water as it pours out of a recently boiled kettle.  The distant laughter from the sitting-room of a happily engaged young adult.

Punctuating the quiet now, two offspring begin to momentarily bro-convo the silence away.  They have fulfilled a familial obligation as the snow fell heavily.

They need to let off steam just a bit.

(As that kettle recently suggested!)

The noise levels rise a little.  The keyboard no longer so assertive.

The marble-like falling of frozen peas into the empty cazuela.  (This is a bilingual household, by the way.)

(Just so you know for future reference.)

For some reason, I need to doublecheck the word.  I get a reply.  But the book-reading continues.

The light of my hard drive flashes Christmas-like on its nearby cardboard box.

White.

Intermittently.

It only needs the silent night of a Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, outside all this unexpected, uncalled for and yet entirely welcome quiet, the embrace of slushy sleet – becoming sodium light-tinted white – serves only to collapse the outlines of an evening like this.

In a room with another person no one can avoid treasuring; in a flat with three other people none of us can avoid loving; at the end of a hall too crowded by any measure; in a space where books invade our ability to resist (their) final temptation.

All we need to awaken from the foolishness that is modern life is to remember the ancient sounds of reading.

Everything else will then silently fall into (its) place.

December 26th 2014

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