The silence is something new. It exists in the limbo between comforting and unnerving, waiting and wandering.
She doesn’t know how to feel.
That has been something so oft repeated that it feels more like a mantra than an expression of her current state of mind. To be in a state of confusion, she thinks, is perhaps much worse than to be feeling any other emotion: not even grief, for there is a definitive finality with grief. Confusion is to be stuck in the unknown, and there is nothing more torturous than not knowing.
It feels suffocating, this silence, but it’s not so absolute that she feels the need to do something about it. The sounds of their footfalls on pavement soften the edges of the situation, making it more tolerable than it would be if both of them were standing still. She looks to him every now and then, unsure of what to say. It seems as though both of them have plenty of words on the tip of their tongues, but not enough that it can be strung into a coherent sentence. That seems to be the misfortune with the two of them, she muses; to have so much to say but not saying any of it at all.
Though the two of them may not be so, their surroundings most certainly prove to be calming. As they make their way back home, the bleak rays of sunlight accompany them, setting a hazy orange filter over the scene ahead of and behind them. It makes them very picturesque, creating this image of them so wholly unlike their usual selves.
For a reason unknown to her, they come to a stop, one slowing their movements after the other. Finally, the silence between them is broken when he says,
“Are you alright?”
She ponders the question. Has there ever been another moment in her life where she has felt so out of place? So on edge and unsure, that constitutes to her feeling not ‘alright’ but not ‘not alright’ either? She gives him a small, tight-lipped smile and looks him in the eye when she replies.
“Of course. Are you?”