I pushed open the door to the barn and it gave a soft squeak, as though it were a mouse scurrying along the kitchen wall. I stepped inside and breathed in the rich smell of hay and horse; the scent of hay was sweet and light and overpowered the stench of horses that had long been absent from their stalls. For a moment the pungent aroma filled me up and I became dizzy with the wonder of it, but gently I acclimatised and crept further into the barn. Shafts of sunlight punctured their way through the slats of wood and gave the place a golden hue; it was this brightness I was attempting to escape and I stepped around the puddles of light as if they were deep pools of quicksand that would gobble me up.
Eventually I found a place as dark as the mood I was in, and I settled there to listen to the minutia of sounds that the barn had to offer. They were mildly comforting, and if I focused on these – the creak of the beams, the scuffling of rodents, the almost silent sound of the breeze outside penetrating the slits in the woodwork – I could forget my reasons for seeking out this solitary place. I curled up on the dust-sheet that fell between the bales I had hidden between and pulled it around me for comfort, though I did not feel cold.
The barn had been here for generations; had endured for many years, changing its purpose to suit those who employed its steady, strong walls for whatever reasons they may have wished. To me, it had always been the stable where the horses were kept; until recently, and I doubted it would ever house them again in my lifetime. I heard the distant whisper of voices approaching and I nestled further into the sheet, pressing my petite frame further into the crevice I hid within. I did not want to be found. I wanted peace and solitude, I wanted a timeless place where no emotion would be recognised. I wanted to remain in this ageless barn forever, lost in the perfume of hay and horses that represented the eternity of a happier past.
This is in response to a writing exercise on voice suggested by the Faber Academy as part of the Elle UK writing course. I don’t think it appropriately describes the sense of loss that should epitomise the piece, but it perhaps has some potential for development.