Not A Creature Is Stirring

There’s something about the quiet of a house at night.

I live in an old house, an oddly-shaped thing with corners that don’t make sense and appear when you least expect it; a house that, when you look from outside, doesn’t make sense. I’m oddly happy about that last part, in particular, as if it proves how old the house is — they don’t build them like that anymore, after all — but there’s one thing to remember about an old house: they’re filled with creaky floorboards.

When I walk from the bedroom to the bathroom in the dead of night, I tread as carefully as I can, and I still make noises that sound loud to an unlikely degree, as if I’m setting off alarms to wake everybody up. Before that, everything is so still, so quiet, that it feels almost holy, and then my foot touches the wrong part of the floor and it’s… not.

As I said, there’s something about the quiet of a house at night.

It feels impossible, almost; how complete and still it is, how enveloping. Perhaps that’s simply in comparison to the day, when everyone and everything is awake, the people, the animals, the outside world, and there’s always some kind of noise from somewhere. That’s not the case at night, it’s literally the opposite. It’s a void, but one that somehow echoes, or finds a tone that can still be felt — something that makes it comforting instead of disturbing.

As is clear, it’s hard to describe. I end up going to strange metaphors: it’s a dark red tone, a blanket that’s warm, it’s how water feels in that space between the first shock of getting in and the feel that you should probably get out. It’s all of these for me, as much as these descriptions likely seem nonsensical to anybody else. It’s something that feels right, in a clearly indescribable way.

Perhaps what I’m trying to say is, I find comfort and security in that silence, that stillness. The knowledge that those I care about are asleep, comfortable, safe. That everything is done, for a short while, and we can enjoy that still space no matter how brief it is.

And then I step on that wrong floorboard.

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