My Pursuit of Silence, by Bryan Wandel

I swept the raucous stars out of the sky, gently pushing them below the tucked corner of the horizon. The noise was overbearing, and I had to start somewhere.

So I stepped out onto the highway and ate up all the cars, the motorcycles, the semis. With each engine digested, another decibel dropped and I felt good about my progress.

With a firm voice, I banished the electrons from the wires draping the utility poles, and all of the television commercials pleasantly stopped at once. The great harmony of channels cooperated to sound their final note at the same moment in time, which was the very worst and most awful moment, but then it was over and I realized that my work was being blessed.

I withdrew an enormous eraser from my regular-size pocket. It was necessary for the correction of loudness, and so I set to work on my own brain. I rubbed away the shouting voices, the ‘80s rock ballads, the shear momentum of workdays and classes and phone calls that continued to play in my head despite my good-faith resistance. I rubbed away some of the ringing in my ears that I was beginning to notice.

I beat a quick path to the sea and threw up my arms and the waves retreated. All of them. They left nothing behind.

The more I accomplished, the more loathsome became the remaining sounds. The swish of my corduroys was giving me a major headache as I moved toward the shopping malls, but I carried on and with a deft “Shh!!” the ceilings collapsed onto the floors.

I went to the clubs and the restaurants and the cocktail hours and confused their tongues, and they scattered over the face of the earth.

I responded NO to every invitation and slipped them gently into the return envelopes and sealed them with

blood

which coagulated nicely. I had sufficient postage.

Finally, I sat in a simple chair. In the distance the mountains were jumping into the waters or at least laying on their sides. I closed my eyes and filled my lungs, and let it go. The breeze helped me to feel. Then I opened to the first page and read slowly, from left to right, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …”