H. M. L. Swann
Day 18: Music
300 Days of Writing
Day 18 Music:
On Tuesday she found a music box and promptly hid it from her mother.
At night, when the lights went out and her ear muffs removed, she would press the tiny box to her cheek. She would twist the metal crank shaped like a butterfly’s wing and listen to the gears turn inside the plastic. The tin slats hit the ridges of the wheel with slow precise movements, beating out a song the girl memorized.
When she first heard its song, she cried. Cried because she’d never heard anything like it before. Her world had no music. No sound. Everyone in her life wore thick leather muffs, some even wore helmets. She was fluent with her hands—she loved to speak up in lessons, to chat with her mother, and to play games with her friends. Her relationships were pure and true and she knew what would happen if she took the muffs off outside. The crumbling of the world in the mountains, the impact of the stars hitting the other side of the earth would damage her eardrums beyond repair, and so they had evolved.
At night, in her soundproof room, if she strained her ears, she thought she heard the world collapsing.
A soft static sound interrupted by a rush of air or rain. She wanted to hear more.
On the third week, she tested her voice. She sang along with the music box. Vowels wide and unpracticed, wavering along with the tin box of sound.
Two months after finding the music box, she had placed sounds to words she knew. She crafted her own language of song, and music, and sound.
The girl stopped sleeping. Twist, twist, twist; sing, hum, dance. She lived for the music box.
One night, she said goodnight to her mother, closed her bedroom door and reached her hand under her pillow to pull out her treasure. She twisted it handle and heard a strange crinkling sound as the coil inside the music box broke.