Eleven years old, dressed in red rags. Strawberry curls falling into her face, she sat on the steps of the stage, surrounded by the other orphans whose parents watched from below. She sang with her eyes wide open, bright and gray and filled with sadness. Strong, proud notes that hung in the air above, held there by the surety of tone, suspended by the silence, thick with awe, that rose up from below. She felt rather than heard the sound and she was mesmerized, deaf to the applause that thundered through the ground to the step she now stood on.
Eleven years later the notes carry up and out and then back down, settling over the silent furniture in the empty rooms, dissipating swiftly into nothing. This silence is not a living one; it does not take in and it does not give back and yet she continues to sing. The last note, as sure and clear as ever before, is carried up and out the open window, and in the space between breaths she finds herself wishing for the ground beneath her feet to thunder.