The wind chimes sang happily in the afternoon breeze, their metallic voices clamouring as each strove to be heard loudest. I paused on the porch step, smiling as I took in the familiar sound. As long as I’d known him, he’d put a set of wind chimes on his front porch. They were now a comfort, and I always knew I was safe when their music was playing in my ears.
Moving on, I went up the stairs and knocked on the front door with the heavy brass knocker. It was an elaborate piece, the metal worked into the shape of the North Wind’s face with the brass ring hanging down from his beard, and it made no sound as it struck the wood. I felt the usual gust of wind blow over my shoulder and whip my hair into my face. Squinting, I brushed it aside and waited.
He didn’t keep me waiting long, but probably because he already knew why I was here. He opened the door with a flourish and stepped aside for me to enter. I did so quickly, flashing him a smile as I passed, and we both headed straight for the sun room.
I sat down on the end of the sofa facing the screen window, tucking my legs up under me and hugging a pillow to my chest. I followed him with my eyes as he closed the sun room door and came over to the couch. Before he sat down, he picked up a piece of bamboo and his carving knife from a nearby table. Once he was seated, he looked at me expectantly.
“How was your walk?” he asked.
I stared at him for a moment, silent. My tongue was refusing to accept the heavy words I needed it to deliver, and my anxiety was building with every passing second. I’d been able to ignore it before, but now there was no denying the hard knot that had formed in my stomach. I was dreading having to tell him the bad news, but not because I didn’t trust him–because I knew that it would be as hard for him to hear as it was for me to say.
His name was Nolan, and he was my closest friend. We met years ago, likely eight or nine, and had become inseparable in the time since. Not a day went by in which we didn’t speak and we saw each other as much as we could. Every time one of us had a bad day, the other was there with a solution. Whenever one of us had a problem we couldn’t handle alone, the other was there with all the right tools for the job. All the pain, we shared, as well as the laughter. So while my news was difficult for me to bear, I knew it would be just as difficult for Nolan.
“Alex?” he asked softly, snapping me out of my wandering thoughts. I realized that I’d been silent for quite a while in my reluctance to say anything. Squeezing the pillow a little tighter, I sighed.
“I’ve gone deaf,” I finally admitted, lowering my eyes. “I can’t hear a thing.”
Nolan said nothing. After a few wordless moments, I dared to look up at him, and saw that he wasn’t looking at me anymore. He was whittling his bamboo flute, working the holes slowly and carefully so that they were smooth and round. He remained completely absorbed in his task for several minutes. I sat there watching him, studying his hands and their tiny motions, until he at last came up with something to say.
“I guess we’ll have to fix that,” he said calmly, his voice steady. He met my eyes, holding my gaze for a few seconds before looking back down at his hands and asking, “Can you see, at least?”
I bit my lip and then said worriedly, “Not really. I can see certain things because I remember what they are, but other things…” I hesitated, my stomach twisting. “Most of the forest looks lifeless to me.”
Nolan nodded. “Okay,” he said simply, returning to his carving. “We’ll fix it, then.”
“Some people don’t get it back once they’ve lost it,” I argued, voicing a real concern that was lodged in my chest. “If I don’t learn how to listen and to see again…” He knew what I meant.
He cast me a sidelong glance, regarding me with his strange pale green, pupil-less eyes. His eyebrows were lowered critically, as if he could tell that I didn’t fully believe what I was saying. “Most people don’t try,” he pointed out, and I nodded in confirmation of the fact. “We’re going to try with everything we’ve got,” he concluded.
I exhaled deeply, rubbing the bridge of my nose and thinking of the tough road ahead of me. We fell quiet for a while, Nolan absorbed in his task of whittling and I consumed by my restless thoughts. I knew my sight and hearing weren’t lost forever, but there was still that nagging doubt in the back of my mind… What if I never again heard the song of the wood-fairies? Or never again saw the orange feathers of a dawn-bird? Those were precious things that I couldn’t bear to lose.
“Will you be ready to leave tonight?” Nolan asked me several minutes later. He put down his flute and knife and scooted closer to me. Leaning against the back of the couch, he stared at me, head tilted and eyebrows slightly lifted.
I grinned a little at his eager expression and said, “Yeah, I just have to get my stuff from home and then pick up my hunting knife from the blacksmith. I finally got it sharpened.”
“Took you long enough,” Nolan teased, smirking.
I rolled my eyes and shrugged. “I’ve been busy,” I said. I then stood, stretching out my legs, and Nolan stood with me.
“You left your hoodie here, by the way,” he said, jerking his chin in the general direction of the living room. “You can grab it on the way out, if you want. The wind’s picking up, so it’ll be cooler when you walk home.”
“All right, thanks,” I said with a tight smile, and his eyes narrowed sympathetically.
“Don’t worry too much,” he comforted me. “We’ll figure it out.” Seeing that I was still worried, he pulled me into a tight hug.
“Thank you,” I murmured, my voice muffled in his shoulder. He let me go and smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling happily.
“We’ll get through it,” he assured me, “You just wait and see.
I apologize for the lack of posting recently–I just got out of a chaotic week and haven’t had much time for any writing at all. Yesterday was the worst day, leaving me emotionally and physically drained, and it was the kind of day where anything bad that can happen does its best to happen. Today was so much better though, my fortune completely reversed, and I owe my mom especially a thousand thank yous for helping me get to this point.
I’m looking forward to a restful weekend full of lots of reading and writing.
What do you do to relax?
May you always find rest at the end of your ordeals, and have the fortitude to reach the moment of respite.