256 Words

Before the Hermitage Threshold

M. Stanley Bubien

I reached for the doorknob, but my hand shook. I pulled back and held my palm in front of my face.

What was I afraid of?

A gust of wind encircled me and leaves shuffled about---dry leaves, as ancient as the Hermitage itself. They scraped along the stone steps with a crackling that interrupted the deepening dusk.

I turned around---into the wind---and gazed down the walkway. Grass sprawled toward the distance, broken by the winding path and scattered oaks. Beyond my view, the path led to a road, the road led to a highway, and the highway led to a city---my home.

I cocked my head and listened for sounds I knew. Cars revving and honking. The clatter of subways and trolleys. The footfall of a multitude. All these and more---noises that filled my daily life like a friend I could always depend on. But none of them reached me here at this secluded retreat. My friend had abandoned me.

"Five days," I said aloud. But even my voice seemed far away, as if it too had remained in the city. It would probably feel that way for the whole of my sabbatical. Five days of solitude. Five days of silence.

Silence. How was I going to deal with the silence?

I held my hand before my face. It still shook.

Silence. What would I find there?

I blew a sigh.

Turning back toward the door, I twisted the knob. As quietly as possible, I crossed the threshold into the Hermitage.

Copyright ©1996 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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June, 1996
Issue #3

256 Words