I Heard by Debra Danz

July 26, 2015

The silent white noise buzzed like a million earthly things were living inside my head. I heard all of it, and I heard none of it.

I didn’t hear the butterfly flutter as she rapidly flew past me on her way to meet her lover, by the wildflowers. I blinked and lost sight of the deer scampering through the forest; his long legs striding before quick, gallant leaps. I didn’t hear his heart pounding against the walls of his chest or his exaggerated breath, as he tried to escape the gunshots. I didn’t hear the raindrops as they rolled off a leaf, petrified of their own descent, tumbling at a frightening speed, fated to become part of a dark, mucky puddle, plink…plink…plink – splat.

I didn’t hear the slide projector clicking photographs into focus – pictures of my ten-year old self, chasing a butterfly – pictures of my twenty-year old self, in hunting gear – pictures of a thirty year old man drowning in life’s debris, plink…plink…plink – splat.

I wasn’t listening to the murmur of gossiping tongues lashing venomous tittle-tattle into the walls of the café. I didn’t watch as their contorted mouths spoke of ‘the tragic incident’ which took place in the red house across the road – or as their clenched hands flew apart in a ‘what can you do?’ motion – or as their index fingers made a rolling gesture by the sides of their heads. I wasn’t listening to the sound of the creaking steps as I climbed the stairs to the attic. I didn’t hear the window open – or the sound of my hands taking hold of the white-trimmed roof – or the sound of my body squeezing through the small window frame – or that of my footsteps climbing the slanted roof to its highest peak.  I wasn’t listening when the mountains in the background laughed at me, and spat small gusts of wind in my direction. I couldn’t hear or see the church bells. I could only imagine them putting on a fictitious show of violence by thrusting themselves against each other, ding-dong…ding-dong…ding-dong; then retreating to the sound of their own isolation – bong – bong – bong.

I didn’t see the picture in the local paper, the one right in front of the café, where I first met my ex-wife. Or the one of my splatter covered with a white sheet, next to the red house; the one that I grew up in. Or the picture of myself and dad standing in front of a mountain, where we used to go hunting, where I thought that I had shot a deer, where dad bled to death in my arms. I didn’t see my mother clad in black and standing on the top step of the church, and I couldn’t hear her inconsolable sobs. I never heard those slowly tolled church bells that would have rung at a funeral; ding – dong…ding – dong…bong – bong – bong.

The silent white noise buzzed like a million unearthly things were living inside my head. From a cramped wooden box, under six feet of dirt – I heard all of it – and I heard none of it.

Debra Danz resides in Switzerland, and is currently writing a book of short, dark stories as a dedication to her late husband. Her work has been published in ’50 – Word Stories’, as well as ‘The Bookends Review’, and is forthcoming in their 2014 anthology.