I had learned early that it was better to drown in silence than to swim in a world of noise. Noise is nothing but a painful distraction from the truth.
Noise is abhorrent.
So I hated to walk out of my beautiful soundless world and into the hot city street and a riot of rabble. Retreating to the quiet was not an option, I was heading out on a journey that I didn't want to start.
The keys to the Merc were in my hand; they were a symbol of the advantages of being a Melvick; the money, the name, the house; here is a car to take you anywhere. And the disadvantage of being me; here is a car so you can always come home and do your duty.
There's no excuse, Megan.
At the traffic lights, a couple of kids were screaming on the pavement, their red angry little mouths opening and closing, throats tightened. Mums were laughing, talking, scrolling on phones. Three teenagers were losing themselves in their headphones, bouncing on anxious heels as they wait to cross the road. As I joined them, I felt the constant boom of the bass beat, knowing that the delicate tympanic membranes in their youthful ears will thicken and scar, a revenge kept for later life when all their conversations will become half-heard and half-imagined.
My car was parked across the road, the door opened immediately as I pressed the fob, waiting for the traffic lights to change colour. Then the crowd and I moved, we didn't touch, didn't collide, we smiled and sidestepped in unison.
Glasgow was still that kind of city.
I felt the traffic vibrate the hot air as I jogged across the road, cutting the diagonal to get to my car. A delivery man, driving up the inside, didn't see me and his van juddered to a halt. I smelled his brakes and felt his fury as his passenger rolled down his window and his mouth moved, eyes angry and narrow. Did he realize how stupid he looked as I lip-read the words fucking, pavement, stupid, bitches.
Glasgow is that kind of city as well.
We were warming up for another day in the low eighties, the air already stale and fetid, stinking of sweat and alcohol as if the city had not breathed since the weekend's drunken revelries.
Maybe going home is a good thing.
Strange word for the place, the sound of it was foreign on my tongue.
I got in the car and slung my handbag onto the passenger seat that had never seen a passenger, the laptop and my small travel bag on the floor.
The Merc was a birthday present. A gift the day I left the Benbrae Estate.
My dad thought the car was fitting only because he had already bought one for Melissa the day she left to go to university. It was the right thing to do.
The fact that I didn't want it, or need it, was neither here nor there.
My dad, Ivan Melvick, the Lord Lieutenant of the County, is like that.