The quietest place I had ever been was my grandparents' car.

Their garage, where my bike lived, was underneath their house in the basement. When I was with them and we needed to go somewhere, the store or the park or back home, I would go downstairs, get into the big shiny Oldsmobile's back seat, and wait for them.

But they were grandparents, even then, and the trip from the main floor took time. Or maybe I was impatient and bounded down the stairs. Or maybe they needed a breather from my precociously vast stores of energy, if only for a minute or two. Or maybe they needed to lock the windows before the alarm would activate.

(That alarm, hidden away in the kitchen cupboard, was the loudest thing I had ever heard. It made fire alarms sound like chirping birds and left me deafened the few times I had heard it. It made me scared to go into their house when they weren't there, let in by my mom and her spare key to check up on things, turn on some random lights. I don't think it's still there, but I steer clear of that cabinet, even now that I'm tall enough to see the shelf it lived on. It used to be a shadow with an deep red light on it and nothing else.)

Waiting in the car was the quietest place I had ever been. It was dark and still and ominous. It was also the loudest. I could feel air molecules pounding against my eardrums. Every move I made resonated against the upholstery like velcro. When I swallowed, which was often and nervously, my throat sounded like sandpaper and felt like a swamp. I reached for the radio once and was frightened when no sound came out when I twisted the dial. I thought I had broken the radio station, killed the DJ with my fingertips. I turned it back off, brought him back to life.

It was like they disappeared. It was like time stopped. It was like I had fallen off of the earth. It was like the silence before the greatest symphony, Opening Car Door in F.

It was where I learned to talk to myself.