I turn back to the fire, flex my fingers out toward the flames. With the unseasonably warm weather and the heat in front of me, I’m almost too hot, so I shrug out of from under the blanket Miles wrapped around me and stretch. “It’s so beautiful out here, though,” I say, my voice wistful. Then, without thinking, “I used to have land like this. Not lakeside, but still.”
Miles tosses his empty in the takeout bag and leans back on his hands. “Used to?”
I groan, falling back on my own hands and tipping my head back to look at the sky. “I inherited it from my grandfather. Well, my brother and I, that is. He had the land split between us when he died. But,” I say, drawing the word out, “I was at college in Chicago when he passed, and twenty-seven acres of Iowa farmland wasn’t exactly on my wish list. And never, in a million years, did I think I’d end up back here. So, knowing all that, I made an offer to my brother and he eventually bought me out.” I fold the blanket and flop down on my back, bunching it behind my head.
Miles follows suit, rolling onto his side and propping his head up on his elbow. “And now,” he says, looking down at me, “here you are.”
I chuckle, my voice dry. “Yep. Here I am.”
We’re quiet for a moment, though it’s not uncomfortable. The summer night song is gone for the season, and aside from the manmade sounds of the radio and the fire, the night is silent. In fact, I have a feeling if I walked away from this very spot, out into the woods behind the house and closed my eyes, the silence would swallow me whole.
“You were right about silence,” I blurt.
Miles, who has since shifted over onto his back, hands behind his head, looks over at me. “Huh?”
I study the stars. “That day in your kitchen. You know, back when I first started working for you and…” I pause, take a breath and release it. “We didn’t like each other very much. You said silence was underrated. Remember?”
His laugh is deep, throaty. “Yeah, I do.”
He reaches down and grabs my hand, pulls me closer. And when I roll to my side and lean my head against his chest, it feels like the most natural thing in the world.
“Silence makes sense of the chaos, doesn’t it? All the shit that’s happening around us that we can’t make sense of unless we step away from it for a bit. If we can just manage to let the quiet in, it’s like we’re able to see the bigger picture. Or,” I say, “At least a bigger portion of the picture than we could before. It’s like life is constantly screaming at you to listen – disaster, disease, rude people, financial crap, divorce. But all it’s really trying to do is get your attention, and when you get still and shut up for a few seconds, you can finally understand what it’s been trying to say all along.”
Read more of Jen’s story in FOUND IN SILENCE.
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