I was the sound of his rage, the hammering of two fists upon the door, and the splintering that came soon after. I was the look of her horror, the warbling cry, and the shattering of plates upon the floor. I was the light of the lamp left on when he finally went out again, the warmth of the bulb, and the pull chain that still hung slightly swinging. I was the sound of her rage. I was silent.
These are all texts that begin with the phrase “I was the sound.” I wrote using this prompt for 50 consecutive days.
I was the sound of the footsteps in the evening shade, as the woman in the blue dress walked beneath the elms on Grant Street. They were slow, evenly paced slaps upon the paver stones; the sound clung to the ground, tamped down by the heavy humid air. She listened for the owls, who listened for the mice, who listened for the woman’s footsteps, which had come at half past 9 every evening of the year for as long as the mice could remember.
I was the sound of the snake that slipped from the rock into the pool, as the two men watched, one smoking, the other not yet. And the one who was smoking said, “It’s very auspicious to see a snake on your first day in India.” And the other man, the one who looked sad but did not smoke, not yet, felt that perhaps he was in the right place.
I was the sound of the wild peacocks in India, their screams under the hot sun; never seen. The man looked for them. He stood atop the dry ridge and hoped he would, so badly he hoped. But he never did. They were gone, much too fast.
I was the sound of the jet flying overhead and the traffic on the nearby road as the man sat in his car and thought about his day. He wondered if he’d done the right thing, whether he could do more. He questioned himself thoroughly and, without realizing, a tiny hate began to stir in him. This hate he thought was for those who had wronged him, but really, it was for himself. He did not hear the jet or the traffic or anything else.
I was the sound of the pine needles beneath the feet of the man who did not believe the words of the woman who walked beside him. She said, “It is better to not know what you want, because then your future will be free to transpire in its own way, a more beautiful way than you might imagine.”
He did not answer, but in his thoughts he refuted her words and judged them lazy and not beneficial. All people must have things to want, otherwise what would we ever do?
As if knowing his thoughts, she continued, “We need not want anything in order to live beautifully. In truth, it is those who want nothing who do the most to change the world. They do not fight against where the stream of life takes them in each moment. They do not busy themselves attempting to direct its course.”
Then she stopped, turned to him and said, “If you are to want anything, want where you are right now.”
He answered, “So am I to want to suffer? Am I to want the world not to change? Am I not to want the starving children in Africa to have food?”
I was the sound of the shifting bedsheets as the woman tossed in the night, unable to quit her mind from rampaging her. The shadows and the slant of the streetlight through the window and the white cotton stretched taut across her, while she feared all the losses behind her and knew, in that dark room she knew, certainly they would all come again. She tossed and turned and the piles of anxiety came down upon her like laundry dumped upon the floor, a soft swish, the rustle of cloth–and she almost wished it louder, so her suffering might be validated.
I was the sound of the creaking bed in the apartment above; the lovers without names, who pumped feverishly up there, beating a steady rhythm into the house frame. The alley cat bawled at the window; its tail shuddered like timber beneath the axe. Until, eventually, all was satisfied.
I was the sound of the radiator, which warmed mother’s toes in the winter night, when she was alone with the baby boy and father was working. Water hissed in the pipes; a quilt wrapped them; they nestled close. She was unafraid, watching his eyelids go down in the lamplight. Small toes appeared from beneath the coverlet; she covered them quickly and sighed and felt warmth that never before existed.
I was the sound of the clock above the bed where the man and woman lay without speaking. They thought to still me because I counted down the time they had left together. But to stop me would bring complete silence to the room, the same silence that had destroyed them; but also a silence that now meant the end of denial, of love, of promises and of who they thought themselves to be. They would not quiet me. Instead they would let time unbind them, painfully, and with secrets.