She walked briskly across the quiet gardens.

She walked briskly across the quiet gardens. It didn’t spook her. The silence had become her friend in a way. For the first few days, she had missed the hustle and bustle of normal life – TV, radio, people around her, the sound of engines and the hum of electronic appliances, even central heating. Now she realised that there were so many sounds around her that she would normally not notice. Birds were singing. Claire was no ornithologist, so she couldn’t tell what kind of birds they were, but they were free and alive and cheerful. There was the soft rustle of the wind. She could hear the leaves moving on the ground and the crunch as her runners stepped on them. She could hear her own breathing, slightly out of breath from walking up the small slope after a large breakfast and several days of no exercise. She could hear the house to her left. It wasn’t an eerie sound, but just a sort of presence, a bit like one is aware of a dog being in the house even though the dog is quietly asleep – a sound one misses if it’s suddenly not there.

Pamela Harju