- to hear.
Paper cuts the webbing between my fingers, and I hiss, and with that hiss realise that I haven’t spoken in a week.
I think about saying something, in that empty elevator. There is nothing I have to say that is worth saying, so I say nothing. The elevator stops. I open my mail, carefully this time.
There is one letter, hand-written, and it simply reads; St Kilda Beach, Sunday, 7.00am. There is no name, no return address, and no postmark. It has been hand delivered.
I don’t know. 7.00am is early. I don’t much like it even when I’m paid to be awake at that hour.
In smaller writing on the back; if you do not intent to come, then say so.
I say nothing. There’s nothing worth saying.
No one misses my voice. Supervisors come by my desk to drop of work, rolling out instructions, and I only need nod. Friends ask questions, and I only need nod. The phone rings, and I’m told I have a package waiting at home. I nod. I can drift through this life without saying a word. Words are force direction movement intent, and I am none of these things.
Do this for me, the supervisor says, dropping off a fifty page historical sex offence report. My fingers hurt.
There’s a long string of emails I should reply to, but they’re words, and nothing I have to say is worth saying.
Maybe, if I hold out long enough, words will leave my mind too. Then I will only think in pictures and music.
Come out tonight, they say, and I nod. I’m tired. Over dinner they talk and talk, and I listen. It’s hard not to listen, when people speak with conviction, so sure of their own voices. I can’t keep them out of my head, and they overwhelm my quiet thoughts. I go home with the voices of so many other people in my head. They won’t be quiet. They never stop and listen, so intent are they on what they are saying.
I don’t sleep. I can’t stop listening to the rest of the world. There’s so much everyone has to say. There’s so much that needs to be heard.
Eventually, I give up. After showering and dressing, I go out. Autumn mornings are nippy, and the sun isn’t up yet. I take the first tram to St Kilda. Tired and sobering and dishevelled people slump in the chairs, their fine clothes not so fine now. The beach is long. I get off at first sight of the sand, and amble along it in that slow, easy, comfortable stroll that so few people can pace. I don’t know what I’m looking for.
I find kites. All manner of kites high in the rising breeze of dawn, tied to stakes in the sand. There are dragons and boomerangs and boxes and snakes and the diamond kites like I remember flying in Westerfolds Park. A great flock of beautiful kites, going nowhere. They sound like motion. The wind tears on their strings. Their fabric ripples. I wander in the midst of them, turn about a full circle, and lie in the sand, watching them glide quietly above me.
A child of uncertain age and gender swathed in beanie and scarf walks out to me, and begins reeling in a fish. It pulls away from the others, and curls about the end of its tether. Like most fish, it doesn’t want to be brought in. The child lands it without tangling any of the others. In their hands, the string is clearer control than the best of reigns. The fish lies at my feet, and I prop myself up on my elbows to see.
It’s a beautiful thing, made of such fragile elements, and yet strong. It can catch the wind, and not be defeated by it. It is no specific fish, just essence of fish. Pure fish, swimming in the sky.
The child unties a paper twist from the fish’s tail, and hands it to me. I unfold it, and in it find my voice.
“Thank you,” I say, and it is worth saying.