Archive for the ‘flash fiction’ Category

Tongues

May 1, 2011

It was her accent that first drew me to her. From across the room. Warm and hard to place. Echoes turning heads away from where the sound had come. Disguising their source. Her language seemed to belong to no place. Or no time. Or both.

I could hear her from the opposite wall, though it was not to me she was talking. Still, I hung on her every word. I could not take my eyes off them. I watched her re-invent each one and rhyme them all off with the next; weaving them around each other like ribbons. She strung me out: with her words. The way she glided between the sentences, arching up her shoulders, intoning her lines with form, syllables sliding down her forearms to her wrists and out through her fingers in faultless flowing sweeps. Her words never seemed to end, but to trail off and hang in the air, like plumes left to fade before your eyes. And I knew right then.

She is what I imagine music must be. Something beyond my comprehension. The drop of a key sending shivers up the spine. The faintest flicker quickening the pulse. The slightest pause; between notes: a rush of anticipation. It seems beyond me: all this harmony of co-ordination and communication.

I have never heard a sound in my life. Not a noise. Not a note. Nor a bang. Not even silence. I was born this way. But, what of it? What of Bach or of Beethoven? Of The Beatles or The Beach Boys? Stravinsky, Strauss, The Streets or The Strokes? I can live in their ignorance. And have no grievance. I can forego all the pleasures of melody and song without a trace of loss or envy.

Though no power of description will ever allow me to understand what it is that people are enabled to feel by the mysteriousness of music; when they are swept up in the movement of a symphony, or lost in the chorus of the latest summer anthem; nor could I ever explain to you, so that you too could hear, what it is that I hear when I am listening to her hands.

Numbers

November 6, 2009

Numbers. Everywhere, numbers. Passengers get on. “One fifteen” “Two twenty”. “One sixty five”. That’s all they say. No hello. Just numbers. Sometimes they question me. I respond, “No, take the 16A or the 11” and the like. Numbers. Always numbers. Letters too. But mainly numbers. I have a number also. D12. It has replaced my name. It is how headquarters know me. “D12, you’re the 39A at 7:15.” And it’s how I introduce myself to them on the radio too.

I stare out through the windshield out at a sea of license plates. Countries with their names sliced: IRL, ENG, NED, FRA. Counties gutted of their letters: CN, WW, LK, MN. They’re bringing in postcodes soon. All that clambering for upper-class addresses, and soon our homes too will be reduced to numbers.

From the table of elements’ atomic numbers to the galaxies Abell2667 and IOK1, we have numbered everything. Before me the traffic stutters forward, stopping and starting, engines quickly resuming their gentle murmurs. And the rain drifts across the day, decorating the pane in tear-like drops, trickling down the glass in ever-changing glances; rivulets joining up and moving off in larger diagonal currents. Numbers. Everywhere, numbers.