Tuesday, June 2, 2009


In the previous post I referred to The Dark Room, my entry in the recent 250-word story contest held by the lovely Alison Tyler. Our instructions were to write about sound and hearing, or lack thereof. Feeling like I'd missed the mark with that piece -- which seemed focussed on a different sense -- I assembled another 250 words to make up for it. Enjoy! No earplugs necessary:

© 2009 by EllaRegina

I couldn't have invented better upstairs neighbours. No television, loudspeakers, not even a radio. The previous occupants' sonorous electronic lifestyle had regularly bombarded my senses, so I was quite relieved at a change of tenancy.

They kept apart, not speaking to others in the building, smiling at me whenever our eyes aligned; walking arm-in-arm, both nattily dressed, trailing plumes of hypnotic scents. I envisioned them artists from some exotic land.

She was a cluster of staccato taps, a path over my head -- likely travelled wearing sexy heels -- traversing my sitting room ceiling, an invisible moving dotted line. His full frame lumbered through their flat with a distinctively masculine gait. Normally, such aural evidence of human ambulation would bother me but with them it did not, given the other sounds they provided...

I most appreciated their proximity at night, abetted by open summer windows. She moaned fifteen feet above in a bedroom mirroring my own, cooing like a pigeon in a beguiling indecipherable sing-song. His outbursts were deep and guttural, synced to her sonic erotic dance; their rhythms parallel, complementary. A hand met flesh in resounding slaps; I imagined his palm on her nicely rounded behind. She'd whimper following each blow. Words were never used; their language seemed purely physical.

Months passed before I first encountered them beyond our building. They sat outside the cafe, each gesturing in a fast-signalled lexicon of fingers, something between a puppetless puppet show and how the ancient black-clad women crossed themselves in church.

Copyright 2009 EllaRegina. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without prior written permission from the author.


Craig Sorensen said...

Wow! What a great study in the power of sound, and how it is in the ear of the beholder. The revelation of their reasons for the couple's silence increases the tactile power of the few sounds from the room.


Erobintica said...

This is the one that got my vote! Thanks for posting it again.

Marina said...

ER, I voted for this one! Just loved it!

Donna said...

Whoah, what a stunning--and very sexy--little mystery story. You've really mastered the short-short!

Donna said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, I love the photo :-).

EllaRegina said...


Thank you, Craig! Since you're a writer and a musician you have a very specific tuning to things, no pun intended, so I am always especially touched by your words, and here even more because it involves your sound turf, where you are an expert.

Soundpower, indeed; also the power/weight of silence. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Erobintica! Hey, you! Thank you for liking the story and casting your vote. I'm keeping a record here of these short shorts but I do hope people go back and read all the contest entries. They get better and better, talk about power.

Hi, Marina! Thank you for your vote and your nice words! Do you know that now whenever I see a stringed instrument I think of you? ;-)

Thank you, Donna! Funny, I never looked at this as a mystery story but it is, isn't it? I do like writing these pieces. A 250-word limit gets one down to the bare essentials, especially when that "one" is baroque-oriented me. ;-)

I thought you might like the Japanese postcard. I had other "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" variants (to represent those three senses with respect to AT's theme), but most of them involved monkeys and this one reminded me of you in kimono so I put it up in homage to your past sartorial revelations! ;-)

Jeremy Edwards said...

A delightful sounding off!

A few of my favorite moments:

the wordplay in the title

"trailing plumes of hypnotic scents"

"an invisible moving dotted line"

"a puppetless puppet show"

EllaRegina said...

Thank you, Jeremy! I love your phrase pick-outs! Yes, the wordplay in title was intentional. I wanted to show this tight couple, a unit unto themselves. I think this is amplified, no pun intended, by their lack of hearing; they're in their own little bubble in more ways than most couples, even similarly close pairings. There are some deaf (is that a PC word or is "hearing-challenged/impaired" preferable?) people who only interact with others in their "community," and there has been controversy when two deaf individuals have a child who could possibly hear with the benefit of cochlear implants. Some of the parents are totally against it, feeling that their soundless world is better... I'm digressing here, sorry, but it's a topic that interests me.

Yeah, I got all Punch and Judy in the entertainment metaphors there. ;-)

I'm so glad you enjoyed the piece. I loved writing it. Another thing -- I don't know if this comes across, and it was not done consciously: the gender of the narrator is not specified. It doesn't matter either way, but I like that it's never stated. The reader can determine (or not) the overhearing tenant's genitalia. ;-)

Emerald said...

Beautiful, ER. Thanks!

EllaRegina said...

Thank you for reading, Emerald!

Confidant said...

A deep bow of respect! You transform typed letters into calligraphy. I marvel at you. (I love to marvel in general, but you make marveling truly marvelous!)

EllaRegina said...

Coming from Captain Marvel himself that is indeed a high compliment. Thank you, Confidant!

P.S. Haven said...

You didn't miss the mark the first time, and you sure as hell didn't this time, either. It's like the archer who split his first bullseye arrow with his second. You're incredibly talented, ER. Kick-ass stories, both of them.

EllaRegina said...

Gee, Haven! Thank you, dude!! Haha, I like your archery metaphor. Cool. I'm glad you enjoyed both stories. :-)

Justine Elyot said...

Exquisite writing, ER! I loved this - I could imagine the narrator lying in bed listening to the staccato tap-taps of her heels so well.

EllaRegina said...

Why, thank you, Justine! I'm happy that you were able to picture it as you did. Thank you for reading!