What It Does to Her

I feel sounds, she said one night. Or it was probably morning by then. Yes, he remembered, it was nearly light when she’d said it, because what made her tell him was the noise of two crows yelling, the dawn coming to pieces between them. The weak light hadn’t quite let the color into things yet, so the sheets, valleyed and peaked, cast grays onto the both of them.

How do you mean? he asked. He tried to listen and mute the pull of her. Were there two millimeters between them, or three?

You feel this, she said, and rested her palm against his neck, fingers threaded through his hair, the same way I feel an orchestra tuning to a concert pitch.

Later he would learn to wage war by sliding the coffee pot back into place three decibels louder than normal. Also later, he would learn that she loved to hear him close the space between them, the air rushing away like the tide and kept out by the sound of him. He learned he had a sound, a sound beyond his name, and that when he’d first given it to her, it had been nearly too much. He learned to abuse what he learned. He learned that she didn’t always mind these particular abuses, so long as the tide turned away often enough.

You Are Your Own

Being human, Lucy carried with her an empty space. The empty space was good for holding things, which was maybe why so many folks liked to give her advice on how to fill it.

Her mother and father told her to fill it with dinner, and went so far as to keep Lucy at the table until she’d done so, peas and all. This was not a fullness Lucy especially enjoyed, as it ached far past bedtime.

Ms. Gravita sighed one day, having hauled Lucy into the Mr. Fox’s office, and said her head was meant for filling with multiplication, and not that mindless humming. Mr. Fox agreed, and for awhile Lucy tried the multiplication. It did not go well. Lucy kept her humming to recess.

The boy who kissed her hard behind the tennis courts had a name, Eric, that seemed to fit nicely into the empty space for awhile, until Lucy heard he took all the girls behind the tennis courts. The space twisted up for a long time, and to Lucy’s surprise even more tightly than it had after all the peas. It remained empty, asking for nothing but waiting for what Lucy could not think it wanted.

Mr. Lonus, the theatre manager, waddled over one evening just after the seven o’clock show had emptied out and warned Lucy that singing was not workplace-appropriate. Lucy nodded, but wondered how on earth the man could have heard her all the way from his office. She bit her lip to keep quiet, after that; Mr. Lonus had his own empty space, and Lucy felt guilty for having filled it with something he didn’t want.

One October, as Lucy walked to her car, a nameless man who could not or would not hear her filled her with a hush that would not leave, and this silence lasted the longest of all, and felt the twistiest, and her space was somehow both the loudest and quietest it had been.

Each night for many nights after that one, Lucy thought that maybe the empty space was not hers to fill. Still, she reached out to it a dozen or more times a day just to be sure it was still there. The space hummed, it quivered when poked, and Lucy tried once or twice to fill it with the things folks suggested, things like knitting and God.

The space did not appreciate this.

In fact, the emptier it became, the more it seemed to yawn and stretch and bounce Lucy’s voice back into the world, a voice which became a little surer as the nights passed. In the dark there were no folks to hand her those things with which they filled their own spaces, things they thought would fit Lucy’s just as well. Lucy began to pull air through the space, and the space enjoyed the breeze. It began to use it for more, to gather the flats and sharps and wavering whole notes Lucy rolled through and to sweep the sounds up and out. The notes began to grow, began to collect words.

Lucy carried the empty space, then, and filled it with nothing, and stopped believing what other folks said about emptiness.

photo credit: ohmann alianne

photo credit: ohmann alianne

In response to the Daily Post prompt: “Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.”