electrical storm

tap. taptap. tap.

the world is supposed to be noisy, she knows this. knows it in the way rain patters over the roof and the ocean thirty-seven yards from her bedroom window swishes over the horizon ad infinitum. she understand it, in the way her boots clatter over tile and pavement and linoleum.

and she feels it in the way her brain buzzes, the way two trains passing by each other on an electrical rail seems to emit a short humming that lasts thirteen seconds after the passer-by has rattled on out of sight.

this is the way the world works. 

tap. taptap. tap.

she knows it in the way she can aurally imagine a wolf’s howl when she has never heard the real thing, and the way her brain seems to light up at the slightest stimulus. (this is why she avoids contact with the rest of the world; too much stimulus, and it’s like a thunderstorm rolling in)

there’s rattling at the slightest provocation and sometimes she thinks her skeletons are going to come loose from their closet, tumbling into the world to join the noise.

(they whisper and clatter behind the doors she keeps in front of them and still the noise in her head drums on and on)

tap. taptap. tap. 

she coaxes quiet to the surface, learns to block it for a while with white noise. white noise comes in the form of a cat’s mindless purring and the way dresses swish around her legs as she moves. for a while the drumming stops, and physical silence is filled in, spackling-like, with radios in every room and a vacuum cleaner roaring once a week. a computer is left humming in the office and a heat pump is even quieter background noise.

and the dam breaks. there’s rhythm to be found in everything if she listens closely enough, and soon she’s mapping out the vacuum to a different room of the house based on when the pitch of the whining changes, shifting from one room to another when the heat pump sounds different.

every song she hears to try and fill the silence has a beat which lies just under the surface of the original one.

tap. taptap. tap. 

she hears it in classical music and rock, and in pop and instrumental-only covers, and as the background when she flicks on the radio to drive home.

can you hear that? she asks one day, and her friend looks at her, puzzled. there’s nothing there to hear, is the answer, and she leaves it at that. she doesn’t bring it up, never tells anyone that there’s always a humming undercurrent in her ears, in her mind, in her fingers. it’s there in the way that she takes her pulse, heart seeming to beat out of time: tap. taptap. tap.

the sounds seem to trail her everywhere that she goes, so that even when she’s in a crowded room the noises ebb and flow. where she once would sit up on her window seat and watch the ocean, she now feels like the shoreline being pulled and pushed by forces beyond her control.

and so she returns to the beach, walks through the water and lets it pull through her fingers, lets the bigger waves buffet her around. staying upright is basically impossible and she sits in the shallows, lets water swirl around her. the cold air dries her quickly and she feels salt-encrusted, layer and layers of salt adding on, drying and then repeating the cycle.

for a while, things go quiet. the water rushes in her ears, thundering around her as she sits. being perfectly still isn’t an option, so she moves with the tide as much as she needs, and finally leaves when her mind is too quiet.

it’s soothing, at first, that startling contrast between high-definition noise and high-definition quiet. once it’s stopped being jarring, that is.and then, when she gets home, the quiet feels like emptiness and instead of being a relief, it feels like a wound.

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