She Looked Up


She looked up, hearing a sound. There was no one in the hall, the doors were all closed. Light streaming in through the windows had dimmed a little. She went to one of them and looked outside at the parking lot. There was one car parked there and people were getting into it. In a few moments, the car's engine started up. In a few more moments, the car was driven away. The lot was now empty. So was the hall, except for her.

She loved large, empty indoor spaces. Churches, assembly halls. The New Mexico desert that spread in every direction just outside was too vast for her sometimes. Indoor spaces when no one was around gave some scale to her thoughts. Such spaces helped her thoughts seem more clear than she often experienced them to be. She thought in images and sounds. When people were present, the words they spoke had to be deciphered in images and sounds, and she always felt slow in understanding them. Even her name -- Sarah -- confused her when people said it. Sometimes she felt they were saying "sorry," or even "scared."  That was the meaning her brain put to her own name.

When someone said "mountain," it wasn't the image of a mountain that came first to mind. She saw a book, and a man with a beard and glasses reading it.

The word "baby" brought to mind a field and made her smile. The word "man" was the easiest to understand, and brought to mind the silhouette of a man, walking uphill in an alley. She could hear the clicking of his feet on cobblestones. She could hear the breeze blowing in his hair, outside his ear.

After awhile, she went into the passage to the side of the hall, getting the vacuum cleaner from a utility room there. 

When someone said "vacuum cleaner" it was snow she saw, large flakes falling with big soft thuds on a snow-covered ground.