The Vital Sound
by Nicholas Su
If I knew that youâ€™d come back some day, Iâ€™d just go on waiting. In the end, thereâ€™s no doubt in my mind that if we had just one chance instead of none, Iâ€™d take it by the hand and hold you like a perfectly smooth shell a child picks up on the beach. To me, you are one of those curious things, a spiral conch in the sand that I chanced upon in a daydream. In the end youâ€™ll be just sand again; my image of you will turn to dust and the words Iâ€™ve always wanted to say will tangle up in themselves. But nothing can replace that childâ€™s first memory when he pressed a seashell against his ear and heard the sound of the ocean waves whispering to him. To him, inside that shell was the all stories without words and all the answers to the questions yet to be asked. It was the vital sound.
But he never got that chance. There was a thing called distance, and it was too long. There was a thing called time and it was too short. He wrote messages in bottles and threw them out to the sea, but none of them ever came back. He filled his pockets with all his words and fed them to the passing birds. He would lie down in the night and observed the satellites and shooting stars splayed across the sky.
When we seemed to be stuck worlds apart, I wanted a hand to hold but there was none. So I wrote. There was never a literary intention, only the distance and the sound of the sea, waves crashing against the rocks. There was a foolish dream, and then there were words. The words I wrote for myself, and the dream was my gift to you.
But in the world, dreams are intangible. There is a message in a bottle with my words to you, but nobody knows where it is. Iâ€™ve written these words and stories, but I still donâ€™t know what they mean. In the world there is distance in minutes and miles, and there is a child with his toes in the sand and his ear pressed against an ivory conch. There is no you, per se, but there is someone with the ocean in her eyes, and these words are my gift to her.
The Vital Sound