Cold shower. Drizzle. Quiet. Fills your head and empties it out. Smoky chimneys in the rain. Silhouette at the window.

Voices in the square outside ebb and flow. Laughter hovers above the asphalt, quivering. Smell of fresh grass and a sea breeze.

Outside, the echo of the highway mixes with the sound of the sea. Roaring in the background, a dull thud.

She’s sat on the window ledge, watching the cars rip past the house. They throw a wet yellow beam of light on the tarmac that trembles as it passes. Slick shiny skid marks. Just past the road the sea stretches itself out, silvery, black, and yawning.

Everything is quiet, suspended on a gauze thread. She leans against the window and inhales, watching the ripples of light play on the water’s surface. Her daily moment of peace in a fractured week.

The door slams.

The shock of it makes her jump, then reel forwards, staring straight down four flights of stairs into the sewer. A frantic grapple with the sides of the window, feet hit the wall, lean back, fall, crash, roll over.

Screams downstairs.

She blinks twice, slowly. The image of the sewer gradually dissolves from her vision as her breath slows down. She squints, figures it out, tries to find her glasses. Her shoulder hurts. Slow tactile hunt under the bed, arm extended, leg gently decontracting. She finds them, mechanically puts them on, winces. Sits up slowly. Swears.

More screams downstairs.

Her pupils widen and then set as she registers them properly. She gets up stiffly and goes to the door to listen. The crash of crockery downstairs informs her mum forgot to do the dishes.

Her mind stiffens, shuts doors, narrows her thinking patterns. She locks the door and goes to find her headphones. She learnt a long time ago that the best thing to do is to block it out. Later, when the house will be silent, she’ll go sweep up the kitchen while her mum puts on a thick coat of foundation in the bathroom.

She knows she won’t feel anything for a few days now. It might happen again before then, so who knows.

She looks outside the window for a moment. The rain has stopped. The ripples of light are gone now, and the sea looks hungry.

She shuts the casement.

By Ceci Bronzoni