Nora Vrubļevska

If Someone Speaks, It’s Brighter


Silence. I smell resin in the November wind.

The suburban forest trail is covered with brown pine needles. My left pocket is heavy, keys and headphones are rattling inside. I feel that my jacket is being pulled to the side; it’s dangling out of rhythm against my leg. I walk quickly, occasionally breaking into a run until I lose my breath. My hands are sweating and I have the uneasy feeling that someone is following me; I look back, but the road is dark and empty. The sharp edges of the pine cones go through my sneakers and pierce my feet, often hitting the very middle of my soles.

Who is making that noise in the leaves? Suddenly a pair of eyes flicker in the bushes, and chills run through my body as I try to remember some self-defense techniques, but at the same time I become aware that I would have no idea what to do if I were attacked by a fox. As I wade through the sharp grass, I realize that it was nothing but a discarded tin can reflecting the subdued city lights.

To calm myself down, I gently hum to myself, “The river carries the oak tree along with its little bees…” (*a Latvian folk song). And so it goes. I remember now that people have told me to avoid listening to music on headphones when walking alone in the dark.