He was breathing.
It had a rhythm, she thought. A shortened rasp to it. The kind of stuttering staccatissimo she’d always loved. Mozart’s piano concerto 21, the strings in the second movement. Quite the same.
At least, that was her perception. Sound itself is perception, she knew. And it comes in waves.
The room seemed otherwise silent, although of course this couldn’t be true. Even the sounds produced by vibrating air molecules are measurable.
Even our ears make a noise.
Inescapable, she thought, and she whispered the word to the white room as her husband continued to live.
She was thinking about movement. How sound itself is altered irrevocably by the medium through which it is forced.
She liked the word forced; it brought an uncomfortable smile.
Sound moves through water, mud, steel and gold. It’s not something you can stop. But should it not be possible, she thought, to silence the sound of breathing? To quieten these final breaths.
And suddenly: a pause.
What she could hear — she was sure — was the sound of angels, their wings beating in time.
They were filling the room, the air spreading around them in longitudinal waves.
Oscillations of love, forgiveness, grace.
Not silence, but absence. She bathed in it.
The sound of him, gone.
Surrounded by these angels, she sat there. Quietly, and for a long time.