Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Humming

I had rented a little cabin on the lake. It was peaceful
and beautiful there, but there was very little to do, which
suited me fine. Moose came in the early morning to bathe and
drink and at night skunks rooted around for garbage. Mostly
I sat on the porch and read, though occasionally I would take
out a canoe and paddle around the lake. One day when I was doing
this I thought I spotted a dead man on the bottom of the lake.
When I got back to the cabin I called the sheriff. He came over
immediately and paddled out with me. He looked over the sides
and said it was just my reflection in the water. I said, “Are
you sure?” He looked again and said he was. I was terribly
embarrassed. We rowed back to the shore and I offered him some
hot chocolate. He thanked me but said he had better get back
to the station. I sat on the porch and read the rest of the
afternoon. That evening I built a fire in the fireplace and,
just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard someone yelling
outside. I jumped up and ran to the door. The yelling seemed
to be coming from the middle of the lake. I ran outside. Now
it was more like a deep humming, and I didn’t know where it was coming
from. Actually, it was rather pleasant. I stood there for a few
moments just listening to it. It made me want to dance. Maybe
it was the fish that were humming. That’s quite a thought.
I left the cabin and started walking around the lake, but the
sound wasn’t coming from there. It was coming from the forest.
I started to walk in there, but it was night, I couldn’t go far.
I took a few tentative steps at first, then my eyes started to
adjust, and I took a few more. I heard every sort of sound: barks,
wheezes, snorts, growls. But beneath it all there was still the
humming. I wanted to find its source, so I kept walking. I
was deep in the forest when I realized I had forgotten to mark
my way. I’d find my way back somehow. I spotted a toad. I
thought the humming was coming from him. I picked him up and put him
next to my ear. His tongue darted out. I felt it deep within
my ear. The humming stopped. He’d caught a fly. I dropped the toad and
turned around. Faced with complete blackness, I dropped to the ground
and fell asleep.  

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