“Hey,” her husband said when he entered the room.
She did not respond.
“Hey,” she could hear the now-distant voices. “You want to go out for tacos? Half-off special at–“
“Hey, you going to the company picnic Saturday? Wife and kids are going with me. Crappy timing with the weather and all, but–“
“Hey, how’s that spreadsheet file coming along?”
“Hey, I just remembered. Your birthday’s coming up. How old are you going to get now? The years just keep flying, don’t they?”
Closing her eyes, she believed she could feel herself floating. Floating, not flying. That was an important difference to her. If she crooked her head just so, she found the voices drained out of her head, through her ears, and poured out into the bedroom’s carpet where they could pool and then dry up.
“Hey, when is that database ever going to get put up? That was due a week ago, and–“
“Hey, you know where I went with Dave last weekend? Oh my God, it was the funnest–“
“Hey, if you’re not going to use that, you might as well–“
“Hey, you sure seem to be taking your own sweet time with that file. I told you it can’t wait till the last minute, but you must not have been listen–“
Her eyes still closed, she moved closer to where she knew the bedroom’s one window was. Fresh air, she thought. I need fresh air. So she opened the window.
“Hey,” said her husband, still standing in the doorway. “What are–”
The first thing she saw when she let her eyes flutter open was a neighbor decapitating the heads of dead flowers in his garden.
“Hey,” the neighbor said.
She tried to smile in response. Instead, she closed her eyes before she could hear anymore greetings from the world and promised herself she would never have to open them again. Her crooked elbows rested on the chipped paint of the windowsill. She put her hands over her ears, too.