It was a cold, dreary winter. Grandfather rode the bicycle the best he could for his age, and hobbled to a stop. He did not hear the wind howl. He did not hear the ice crack as the wheels crunched through them. In his clouded, foggy mind, he watched the world shrivel. He couldn’t even hear the sound of his own blood pumping through his ears.
But the world was not always so silent. Grandfather had experienced a winter when he could hear the old architecture of the house groan, the wind tear past and the nagging of Grandmother. He could remember how the fireplace was alive and crackling. It was only the memory of sound he could hear now.
He limped uncertainly back to the cottage, the sleet making the path slippery and cold. His fingers were numb already from holding the handles for too long. He fumbled to put his hood up as the rain slowly turned to snow. Steadily, patiently, he reached the window. He did not hear his bones creak as he raised his arms, trying to make a gesture that would attract Grandmother’s attention from the kitchen window.
In his younger days, Grandfather was a much more active and agile man, and so could manage to do this efficiently. Grandmother, an expert at multi-tasking, would need to watch his frantic waving in order to open the door to him. This was because she could hear only silence as well.
However, as the years passed, she was afraid that her failing eyes would miss him. So, she stayed to watching the snow blanket the earth, earnestly moving her lips in some prayer that Grandfather would come back alive from the storm. She did not know if any sound escaped them.
They hadn’t spoken to each other in years, because there was nothing to be heard. It was hard accepting this mute exile. But both knew that they were one of the last people alive, to have survived the Invasion.
Grandmother opened the door and clutched Grandfather with as much joy as her fragile fingers could convey. When the Silence came, eyes had become the primary organs of communication. Now that they were failing too, the mere experience of human touch was enough to reassure each other that everything was alright. They were still together. For another day.
Grandmother pointed at the fireplace. It blazed as brightly as ever, making Grandfather’s eyes water somewhat, both with forgotten memories and the intensity of the fire. He grasped Grandmother’s hand as some token of gratitude. Grandmother denied it, as if to imply that in being together and being alive, there was gratitude enough.
As Grandfather sipped the prepared warm drink that Grandmother handed to him, she nodded to a large volume open at the weak table. She brought it over and sat beside Grandfather. The book had stories. Many many stories which they had lived through together. But most importantly, they contained the stories of when they were familiar with sound.