by K.M. Churchill
“In the stillness of our West Cork garden in February, I could hear nothing; and the sound was deafening. I pushed up against it, leaning into its vastness, and listened harder.”
Outside, a dreadful silence: no barking dogs, no bleating sheep, not even the familiar caw of blackbirds roosting in pines at the edge of the remote Irish village. The sun was not yet above the headlands. I scanned the garden. Hedges, flowerpots, pale sky, picket fence. Already a strong sharp wind blowing off the bay, stinging my cheeks like the slap I deserved—what kind of mother lets her toddler get out of the house on his own? Even half asleep, my husband had been quicker than me. He was out of bed and out the door before I’d found my glasses, pulled on wellies and thrown a cardigan over my flannel nightgown.
And, although I know I probably shouldn’t have, for one long panicked minute I stood listening. It was a habit of mine, listening, probably the result of severe myopia; I usually heard things long before I saw them. So, rather than rushing off like his father to see if I could find my child before he got into trouble, instead—foolishly perhaps—I stopped to listen for him.