Every Sound has a Soul

Stuart W. Mentha | 24/06/2011

He looked out the window and howled… Adam had never truly let out that kind of sound before. Sure, he had yelped when he fell off the slide as a 10 year old and broke his arm (it seemed like a great idea for three kids to go down at the same time), and sure he had screamed when he had drilled straight through his thumb in woodworking class, but this was different. Adam had never let out the full might of his voice with every single ounce of breath, every muscle tensed in the fight to exorcise the dark hollows of his belly. There, his darkest traumas hid, compacted upon each other, and only made themselves known from time to time as an odd feeling of dead butterflies in his stomach, which Adam had never been able to completely explain.

In truth, it can be a pleasant feeling to have butterflies in your stomach. Nervousness can be excitement. At least you know you’re living when your palms are sweaty, your neck is nervous-tic tic ticking, and your feet are tapping not because you’re listening to any kind of beat but because the nervous energy is escaping out of your limbs whether you like it or not. But dead butterflies only serve to remind you of all the opportunities that you never acted upon, because the butterflies that were once the flickering naive sparks of inspiration are now dead. What’s more is that the girl you were too frigid to kiss as a teenager is now pregnant with the local bricklayer’s child, the role model who you never told how much he inspired you is choking on his own vomit in the gutter on the other side of the world, and the teacher who tried to get you to read more as a kid is being made redundant. They have no idea of the dead butterflies. They never knew you had the butterflies in the first place. The bright lights that once helped the larvae to hatch are long gone. But now! Now, at least for Adam, these demons had been expelled into the night! Now the butterflies had become reanimated with the spirit of something arcane, had arisen and recovered their light in the stars that seemed to awake with them.

Yet, every part of Adam growled in pain. The rumbling frequency consumed him. It threw him against the wall. It had such power that it took on a life of it’s own. People talk about sound having soul, but no one ever talks about a soul having sound. This was a white noise, malevolent, born into the air to wake up not only the neighbours, but the neighbours neighbours… neighbours. Adam lived on the fourth floor in an apartment in a busy inner city street of Prague, and sure enough, there came a loud thud on the ceiling, followed by a tapping on the floor, and a rattling on the wall. Outside a car horn screeched, and a drunk Czech shouted words that were indecipherable even if Adam did speak the language. They were pissed off, but there was something symphonious about the way they all let him know, almost in time with each other, as if the spirit of sound had somehow consumed them too and made them tap, rat, tat, tat… thump.

Adam sat with his back against the wall, winded. Tears ran down his face and his neck like young kids running down sand dunes in the prime of their youth. The years that he had spent hiding himself from the world had suddenly, within the space of a minute, become undone. His past spilt into the air like ink in water twisted by the ripples of sound. But it was now eerily silent. It reminded Adam of the time on school camp when his teachers told him the story of “Shotgun” Davies. Later, when he and the other students were sleeping under the stars the teachers dropped a huge stone into an old empty water tank deep in the bush. It sounded like an almighty gunshot. It scared the fucking shit out of him. Even the kangaroos ran for their lives through the open field. He remembered how he could still feel the reverberation long into the night. In a similar way, his howl was still swimming around the room, but made no sound. It was his soul escaping from its fetters, hungry like a ravished beast for food, sex, anger, love. Anything. The things that Adam had spent so long desperately building walls against. It could not be controlled. It was flying away, out the window, and into the night.

Without him.

Praha, the "old crone", had brought him into her leathery hands to teach him a lesson. Her claws were further reaching than Adam had ever expected. But just like any mother must eventually be forced to do, she was letting him go. He realized then that the old crone rarely lets anyone escape her clutches only because they haven’t learnt their lessons. Praha is an excavation of souls. But she only takes people down to bring them back up. She’s a wizard, she’s as white as the stars, and she means no harm.

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