It is hard to describe this noise, this sound. It’s a thud. Like the sound of a piece of furniture falling hard onto a carpeted floor. Or a child falling out of bed. It’s a thwap, like the sound of a bullet impacting the ground right next to you. It’s a whomp, like the sound of a heavy machine unexpectedly toppling over onto the earth. It’s not a sharp, clear sound. It’s muffled to me, here in my bed, but it is a loud sound. It’s big. Is there someone in the living room? Did they stumble in the dark and knock over the bookcase? Was that a slamming door? Was that an accident outside? Is someone hurt? My muscles tense as I wait for the next sound that will tell me what I need to do. Call 911? Grab a weapon?
I cannot sleep. I cannot rest. The noise goes on around the clock. There is no break, it seems, just an intermittent thud, boom, thwap, at all hours.
“Get some ear plugs!” my concerned friend advises.
Ear plugs are not the answer, as each thud, whomp, thwap, sends vibrations through the air, through the earth, which resonates in my being. Each one reaching deeper into the core of my soul. The sound triggers visceral memories, telling my brain that danger is imminent, an emergency is looming, a crisis is coming. At the very least, there is something happening that will require a physical response from me. Stay alert! Don’t close your eyes! Don’t relax.
My brain tells me to prepare exit strategies, review locations of weapons and medical supplies. I must stand guard, be prepared to fight, defend, resist, respond.
I know the origin of the noise. There is no threat to my safety. I know this to be true. It does not matter. Some part of my brain will simply not accept that reality.
I cannot rest. I cannot sleep.
Long before the city workers finish building the new highway, I will be living somewhere more peaceful.