Nighttime Nightingale

Preface: Part of a collection of short stories revolving around a port town and a lighthouse. If you haven’t read the last one:

I pressed my ears against the wind to try and hear the song of the night that filled the air. I’d been chasing the song for the past week, trying to find the source of that lull-full melody. It was a short hum that sliced through the air, and reached into my ears as a blissful trance. It filled my senses just as much as the darkened sky and the street lights. I didn’t know why at the time I felt so adamant on chasing that sound, but I knew that if I didn’t I would be haunted.

I waited as I pressed my ears against the wind again. I listened for any semblance of that night time melody. I would hear the quiet lull of the ocean some place far beyond me. I would hear the sounds of night time construction. I would hear the shuffling of recent bar dwellers. If I looked far enough, I would see the faint light of the lighthouse that stood tall and firm on the edge of this island. I was jealous of that lighthouse. It stood with all its convictions, and fought against all that wanted it to be toppled. I wanted to find that melody.

When the sound of that melody would enter my ears, my entire body would spark. I would move my head instinctively towards the direction it came, and my feet would take a step. I would land on the concrete sidewalk, the coldness of it permeating through my shoes, and I would shuffle the hands in my pockets.

I began following that melody, brushing away strands of hair that threatened to throw me blind. I felt my breathing accelerate, my body warming up irregularly in the coming winter, and I would adjust my scarf. Once the humming ended I stopped. I took a few moments to survey my surroundings, but I knew that the port town I lived in wasn’t that big yet. I wouldn’t have to worry about getting lost.

Even if the melody of the night that I heard was a trick, I still pressed on. The thick of night, and the cold of winter wouldn’t stop me, and so I kept walking, following the faint melody that gave me my solemn enclave. Even if it was a trick, following that trick gave me some semblance of hope, and that hope carried me throughout the day.  It was the only thing on my mind, the only thing I could keep in my head as I watched the town around me revolt in the changing gears of the world. I wanted nothing of it, but I lived in it. I followed the melody until I found myself staring at the forest leading to the lighthouse.

It was a small forest that many held dear to them. The land beyond that point was a large patch of green that managed to avoid desecration. The sound seemed to ebb and flow from the entrance of the forest, and I waited with my ears open. The melody of the night erupted as I felt myself slip and I jolted myself awake. The sound emanated from some place beyond the forest, and I took a step in, adjusting my scarf. I felt my entrapped hair shift, and I watched my white breath dissipate. I took my hands out of my pockets, and brushed away branches as I stepped into the darkened forest.

The melody of the night seemed to reverberate in the forest, causing every sound to blend into the hum, turning itself into nature’s orchestra. I couldn’t tell which direction to walk, and so I followed the dirt road heading into the lighthouse. My eyes begun adjusting itself to the darkened forest in ways that I didn’t think was possible. I began seeing much more than the branches threatening my face, I could now see the rocks on the ground, the broken leaves and shattered nests that littered the forest. I tried to peer over the cover of the trees, only to find myself encased in this world. The hum continued as I walked closer to the end, and once I had stepped out of the forest, with the lighthouse in full view, the hum stopped. The sounds of the ocean replaced the night time melody and I looked ahead to the lighthouse, watching as its light beckoned to the past.

I wondered if the melody of the night had been the ocean all along, that the wind had drawn the salty currents towards my sullen ears. Even if it was, I wouldn’t have been sad, in fact, I would have been more grateful that I could meet the object of my hope. I would go on living with that in my head, cheerful of the mystery of the night time melody, and desolate that my mind would be free from that lull.

I walked towards the edge of the island, with the lighthouse to my side, and traced the crashing waves. The washing of the waves against the island reminded me of rice being washed in a bowl, and my stomach began grumbling in tandem. I smiled, leaned back, and planted myself into the ground of the lighthouse, wondering if my mother was waiting. I smiled when I thought about how mad I would make her, and I smiled knowing that she brought me into this town of revolving gears, of destroyed sanction, and of the coming grey smog. I pressed my hands towards the lighthouse, and watched as I was just a few inches away from touching its lonely base. I tried to stretch my arms outward, to push my body to touch the base of the lighthouse, but my body remained stagnant. The sounds of the ocean washed over me, and the sound of the hum resurfaced. I retracted my hand, and got up to brush the dirt on my clothes. I then turned, adjusted my scarf, and began walking home.






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