The Curtains

Hannah found the curtains in an antiques shop. They were the colour of sleep hush and cupboard quiet. She carried them home, washed them bright again, mended them, and hung them at her bedroom window. The day went sleet-fast. That night, she heard strange sounds: hoof beats and cobblestones, wheezing violins and odd words. Jumping from her bed, she opened the curtains and stared at the busy street. The noises vanished – she heard only traffic and crowds.

She pulled the curtains closed. The darkness smelled of stale clocks. She heard the sounds again. Imagining horses and carriages passing her home, she rushed out into the street, but saw only the clamour of speeding cars and electric lights. She went back inside. She sat by her window and listened to wooden wheels creaking and the murmur of soft story telling – the voices felt like candle calm. She tried to write down their words.

Every evening, she fell asleep to the strange sounds. Soon, she stopped looking outside. In the mornings, she kept her curtains closed. She listened to peddlers calling and cattle bells. She strained to learn the names of people she couldn’t see. Their footsteps felt like lost colours. Motorcycles and buses roared past her home, but she never heard them. She stayed in the gloom listening to days and nights from long ago.

Rebecca Harrison