It’s five minutes before bedtime. I’m trying. Getting up in the morning is a struggle for me. I do my best work at the midnight hour and it’s difficult to go to bed when I’m most relaxed and focused. A friend and fellow night owl once explained, “we stay up late because the world has gone silent.”
Perhaps not the world, but my corner of it quiets considerably.
The pup is asleep on the couch. The house breathes the fresh night air. Roberts Street is asleep, houselights snuffed for the night. I feel refreshed.
Earlier in the day when I was trying to get out emails to clients, prepare for faculty work, set aside books I need to read, and catch up at the Ranch, a cacophony of sound had me out of sorts.
The chipping sparrows surround my house. Chipping. Chipping loud as electronic equipment gone haywire. I’m a bird lover and not accustomed to wanting to tell off any bird, but these guys, they are discordant and constant. I’m ready to remove their bird feeder. Shh…!
Mause was wound up. She had the evening poop zoomies. Finally, third time out, she did her duty but not before pointing a rabbit. The small brown bunny held still, eyes locked on Mause. Her instinct is spot on for a GSP. She pointed. That means, she locked eyes and held still. A pointer will hold the gaze of a game bird (well, okay, a flightless bunny in this case). The point allows a hunter to get ready to command the dog to flush the bird, once in position. I prepared to have my arm yanked.
When the bunny dashed, so did Mause. I was ready and sat against her dive to chase. Bunny lived another day to eat my dandelions. After the encounter, Mause barked her head off at anything she could see out the window. The neighbor’s beach shoes drying on his sidewalk. Someone walking a poodle. A bush that wiggled in the wind.
And still the sparrows chipped. ZZZT! ZZZT! ZZZT!
Finlandia is back to regular morning and evening football practice. The field is near my house so I could hear the team. Why do football players grunt so much? And how can they grunt so loudly?
That diesel truck from down the street with loud pipes blasted by the house.
Mause barked another frenzy.
Music stopped and started upstairs. The only thing more distracting than a veteran with no attention span starting and stopping songs on a computer is if he was downstairs starting and stopping military history videos on YouTube. Granted, I get good ideas from what I overhear, but tonight I can’t take the sounds because I have work to do and I can’t give up, go water or fix dinner. Bedtime is now as discordant as all the noise.
Twitching, I make it through to the delicious time of quiet and solitude. Ahh…! The sparrows quieted. Mause makes soft nose wheezes as she sleeps. The music upstairs has stopped. I turn to Calm and play Sweet Dreams, soft piano mix for recalibrating the mind.
Tomorrow morning is my first day of Finlandia University faculty training. The jitters are receding as my passion to teach writing rises. I’m 54-years-old and starting a new career. Feels bold. It was always a sweet dream to think I’d expand my writing career in this direction. Even in school to get my MFA, I didn’t think I’d get this opportunity. Stars aligned and I’m grateful. I paused in the silence to let a wave of anticipation vibrate through me.
Neighbors cruised their dreams.
This is why I write late into the night. Silence refreshes me. I was made for stillness. The mind expands, the imagination opens up. The stars keep me company without saying, ZZZT! ZZZT! ZZZT!
Alas, I’m willing to nod off to a sleep story (Calm app is amazing) and set an alarm. Because I will have young minds to engage. I hope to learn and grow as they do. It’s a big deal to me to pick novels to assign, find handouts, and create meaningful assignments. Will they write 99-word stories? Oh, yes. They will even learn TUFF to draft ideas for research papers. They will explore their personal values, find their strengths as writers, and craft a vision for their overall college success.
After the cacophony, I find the answers in silence.
August 13, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story, using cacophony. You can use the word or show discordant sound inaction. How can you create literary cacophony with your words? This one might be of interest to poets as a literary device. Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by August 17, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
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Batter-born Biscuits by Charli Mills
Batter-born biscuits dropped to a sizzling cast-iron griddle. Max held her lips in formation. The day before, her mother complained Max was too pretty to withhold her smile. Max adjusted her prosthetic foot to stand near the outdoor flames. The arrival of a squawking blue jay, twittering squirrels, and her father in a silk robe announced morning with forest cacophony. Weird as her dad might be, she’d take him at her campfire wearing what suited him best over the silent pretense of her mother’s morning prayers, rules, and cold cereal. Funny how grim her mother looked, reading her devotions.