Life had been good to her. She had a job, she had a home, and she had enough money to pay off her debts without the weight of it crushing her down. And now a stroke of luck at work had brought her to Amsterdam. She had no complaints.

She stepped onto the street, expecting warmth and welcome. Instead, a chilly morning breeze stung at her skin causing her teeth to shiver and her ribs shudder. Smiling to herself an the unexpected weather, she pulled out her jacket and reached for her phone. She’d better book a cab.

Her ride arrived in minutes. Settling in the back seat, she leaned back observing the traffic of working-class Amsterdam. The car fell into a race with the rest of the vehicles, and even as she looked on, cars, mini hoopers, SUVs, and XUVs zoomed past without slowing down for a second. Her driver followed suit while she grabbed the door to steady herself. Despite the seatbelt, she moved around a lot.

Through the window she saw drivers of all ages. Middle-aged women clutched coffee cups on one hand and the wheel with the other. High school kids sang along as they cruised by, and a tensed semi-bald man mumbled while he gripped his steering wheel hard enough for his knuckles to show. On another side was a tall man stroking the hair of the retriever on the seat next to him.

Karen watched, amused how none of the cacophony of the outside world reached her. The only noise she ever heard was a mild hum from her head. Life had been good to her deaf self.

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