Now

  • Such Things Might Come from Sound by Scott Daughtridge DeMer

    A brick building somewhere in this city calls to me at night. I’ve seen the vague shape of it in my dreams. The building sends out a warbling signal like a sickened radio wave, and when it finds me in my sleep, I see the color red. I’ve searched for the building by walking every block from Piedmont Park to College Park, growing a nocturnal neural map that extends infinitely into the unknown. Because I don’t know what the building looks like, I press my ear to every brick structure I come across, listening for the warble. I broke into an abandoned bank on Metropolitan, swearing to god that it was the one. Inside, I felt the heat emitted from the walls, I caressed the floors, I licked the wooden door frames, I pressed my forehead to the glass panes. I searched and I listened, but the space was soundless. If I find the building, I don’t know what will happen to it or me or the city. I often wonder if I radiate a vibration like the building does and think maybe that’s how it found me. Many nights I record myself on a camera, sleeping, eating, staring, or painting, then upload the footage online so I can go back to watch it later as if it’s not me and listen for any sound I might be sending out. Sometimes I think I hear it. My sister told me when I was ten that to listen to a thing was to give it love, give it life. She told me listening can help soothe the hurt, fill the empty, shape the day into manageable moments. So I listen. But now when I move, I have the thought that I’m programmed by some sonic code rather than acting on my own impulse or intention. I sense that the building has plans for me. I have accepted this, accepted it echoing through me, though I really have no choice. Like when I built the antenna on the cracked dirt behind my house in my sleep. I woke standing on a folding chair stacking broken tables and sofa fragments. At the top, I balanced the oval mirror from my bathroom, tipped it to reflect the night-dark sky. I gripped the mirror and felt the most subtle pulse pulse pulse of the building’s electromagnetic music in my palms, a pattern of syntax and architecture that I unraveled to discover the sound inside of the sound and then located where that same frequency lived inside of me. The building made me imagine a sculpture garden with human-shaped statues craning their necks to the sun. One pointed to the clouds that spun wild as if elapsing their own time. Beyond the garden, a red-sand beach lapped lathered waves. The beach led to a highway with cars in perfect rows, reflecting the sky spilling open, loosing a song of glowing static. In the static, life’s geometry destroyed then birthed itself, tried to find a formula of rest, but finding none was overrun by new numbers and unquantifiable odds of probable events. I woke again face down on my bathroom floor.

    I fear I do not fully understand what the building means and may never unless I find it, so I beg the waking landscape, I trace the section of my brain reborn in the night. I fear I will fail to carry out the building’s demands. There is nothing I can do but sharpen my awareness, hone my observations, and open the margins of my mind. So if you see me on the sidewalk, motionless or manic, staring at the sky or pressing my head against a building, do not disturb me. Let me search, let me listen.

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    Scott Daughtridge DeMer is a writer from Atlanta, Georgia. His work has appeared in Heavy Feather Review, Gone Lawn, Calamari Press’s Sleepingfish 2020+ (≠ 404), Hobart, Necessary Fiction, and other places.