The nameplate on the desk identified my questioner as Miriam Jones. She was younger than I expected for someone in charge of the inquiry.
“I don’t know how much you want me to tell you about Wheat Basin,” I said, “and I’m not sure how much the isolation of the area has to do with happened.”
“It may have nothing to do with the events I am investigating, but there have been similar incidents in a number of school districts, and I hope to find a pattern, possibly in the communities themselves.”
“Do you think you might be making too much of what happened? There must be more serious things to look into than a few altered test scores on the state exam.”
Ms. Jones stared at me for a minute, and I should have thought of a way to take back what I’d just said, but instead I noticed that her eyes were almost as dark as the black sweater she was wearing, and I was tempted to ask if she were wearing colored contacts, but I decided to avoid saying anything that would make me appear less professional than I already did.
“Perhaps,” she said, her eyes darkening even further, “if you had taken the state exam more seriously, we wouldn’t be conducting this inquiry.”
“That’s true,” I said. “I’m sorry. What do you want me to tell you?”
“You said that it was the sounds in Wheat Basin that made you feel isolated. What did you mean?”
“I’m not exactly sure, it’s just that most places you go there’s background sound like the air conditioner in this room right now and the voices we can hear through your door, and outside there’s the sound of cars crossing pavement; and if there are birds or dogs or any other natural noises, they disappear into all the other sounds; but in Wheat Basin when I drove outside town and stopped and got out of the car, I noticed the wind whispering through the cheat grass along the road, and I could hear the wind against my clothes; and when I walked along the road, I couldn’t believe how loud the sound of my feet crushing against the rock was like I’d been walking my whole life and not noticed it could be a pretty loud thing to do.”
“Why would those sounds make you feel isolated?”
“In a normal place, all the sounds are blurred together, but out there the sounds take turns.”
“So that isolation was a good thing.”
… End of part two of the prompt, “Write about an isolated place”