Monday, 27 January 2014

Night Sound

A windless night, closer to the longest night than we are now, a good hour after the milk lorry trembled the house in its nightly pound to the farm, I was in the bathroom, readying for bed. The bathroom in our cottage is behind the kitchen, towards the sea. In fact there at high tide, as it was, there's possibly only ten or twenty metres between the bathroom wall and the sea.

What I heard at first sounded like a car reversing, a long way off. Further than the car park, locked up now anyway. But there was no long way off for a car to reverse, only the sea. For reasons I can't now explain I was convinced there were lights attached to the sound. Regular, intermittent soundings. Big, deep, hovering and slightly thrumming, as if more vibration than sound, as if operating on another sound wave to the one I usually hear on.

I heard bats calling once. Without any batophone. It was, again, late at night, and two of them swooped over my head and knobbled - the closest I can come to describing their echolocation - to each other. Apparently my attunement to high frequency sound happened to coincide with the lower one they employ for calling to each other.

This was a far bigger sound. One that filled the air, the way thunder does. But intermittent and sharper. It really did sound like something parking. It sounded above the water, rather than in it, the sharpness gave it that sense. Although the vibrations did suggest water maybe being disturbed. As I leaned closer to the wall the stronger the sound, and its vibration, felt. Oddly regular. Insistant. I called F. Again I called. Urgently. Already the silences between the sounds were lengthening. I called out again. Quickly. But too late the sound had sunk away. The emptiness of the night seemed, at the moment F arrived in the bathroom, far far bigger than the five mile wide bay, black as it ever is.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's frightening. Is there any history of ships crashing where you are?

Sarah Hymas said...

Ships and yachts beach from year to year - coming in on a low tide if they cut the channel they'll suddenly find there's no enough water under the hull. But if that had been the case we would have seen the ship's lights -- and it would have been there at least until the next high water