Friday Evening

Friday Evening

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

A story written for ENG1111: Composition 1. Focusing on describing the senses.


Friday Evening

September 17, 2008


          The silence is not silent at all.  The sibilant humming of the cicadas echoes outside my window, their noise almost deafening.  As I hold my pen poised to begin writing, the cicadas’ murmuring rises and falls, distracting me from the words which clamor to be written.  Vague, childhood memories of the waves cresting and crashing on the pebbly shores in New Hampshire drift behind my eyes.

          The music of the cicadas is punctuated intermittently by the strident chirruping of a cricket.  Each time the cricket pauses between his chirps, I am lulled by the susurration of the cicadas, only to be startled again each time the cricket rejoins the song.

          Twilight is falling outside the window.  The sky is a smooth, even blue, the color of well-honed steel.  The brilliant colors of the day fade into muted greys.  As evening comes, I feel the encroaching shadows deepening in the room around me.  It is strange how darkness feels.  Sometimes it is a warm, soft blanket, enfolding me in safety and comfort.  When I am alone, though, as I am now, the darkness is a looming beast, stealthily stalking me as the shadows deepen.

          I huddle closer to the safe, familiar refuge of a sheet of bright, white, notebook paper.  It is a beacon of safety in a sea of dark uncertainty.  The single 40-watt bulb next to my desk casts a buttery-yellow pool of light across the paper, holding back the darkness. 

          The clock ticks in the corner behind me.  Its steady heartbeat adds to the menacing gloom.

          I take a deep breath of the thick, heavy air to settle my nerves.  It pours into my lungs, oppressively warm, leaving me sluggish instead of refreshed.  My arm sticks to the satiny wood of my desktop as I move to turn the page.  A fine film of perspiration clings to my flesh as beads of moisture form on my forehead.  The humidity drenches the fine hairs at the back of my neck.  I listen to the scratch of the cheap, ballpoint pen on my paper, savoring the familiar and dearly loved sound of words being woven into a tapestry for the imagination.

          My attention shifts suddenly away from my writing, and the darkness is momentarily forgotten.  The scent of fried chicken wafts on the breeze from the shop in front of my home, and my mouth waters at the savory aroma.  My tongue remembers the peppery tingle of the crisp, golden crust, and the juicy tenderness of chicken fresh from the fryer.  My stomach rumbles emptily, and I remember that lunch was many hours ago.  For a few moments, I imagine biting into a thick piece of fried chicken breast.  In my mind the golden juice trickles down my chin as the subtly blended flavors of the delicate meat and the crisp, spicy crust burst into my mouth.  It is only a memory, though, swept away as the wind shifts, and carries the smell of fried chicken away from my window.

          The darkness feels deeper and darker with the warm aroma gone.  The oppressive shadows press threateningly close against my back.  I hunch my shoulders against the force of the darkness, leaning further into the light falling across my desk.  In just these few minutes, the sky has gone from steely blue to a heavy, leaden grey.  All color has been leached from the world outside my tiny sphere of lamplight.  Soon, the day will yield to the dark of night.

          I jump, startled, as a wash of Arctic air pours over my feet from the vent under my desk.  My heart thuds in my chest as the air conditioning renews its battle with the sultry autumn weather.  A shiver runs up my legs as the welcome cool billows into the room.  Beads of perspiration on my forehead and neck yet disbelieve the coming cool, as the dense, humid air resists being dispelled by the cool draft.

          I write on, the pen and paper my steadfast companions.  Line by line, page by page, my words fill the paper, my pointed scrawl pouring out my feelings in the way my words know best.

          The outer darkness is complete now.  At least, it is as complete as it can be in a busy, modern town.  From my refuge in the pool of incandescent light, the outer night is a black void of unseen dangers.

          The cool air continues to push back the heat of the evening.  The air becomes clear and light, and fills my lungs, giving me strength to face the darkness.

          The cicadas are still now.  The cricket is silent. The only sounds in the surrounding darkness are the steady ticking of the clock and the frenetic scratching of my pen.  I am alone in the cool and the dark, surrounded by the monsters of my imagination, sheltered by the lamplight.  The light reflects warmly from the dark surface of my desk, picking out the bright, russet lines of the grain between the wider bands of chocolate richness.

          I continue to write, unwilling to stop, the words filling the pages, the writing my shield against the loneliness of a silent, empty house.  Such is the way of a Friday night, when my children are visiting their father, and the silent darkness threatens to consume me.

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: story, assignment, evening, sound, smell

A Journey through My College Papers


Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..