“This Ringing in the Ears Won’t Wake You Up at Night” by Chloe N. Clark

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I had this boyfriend, a while back, who completely lost hearing when he came. I found out one night when he was deeper inside me than he’d ever been and each thrust made my toes curl up, I finally let out a moan that was actually a scream, loud enough that the dog barked from the other room. I apologized to my boyfriend and he asked for what, when I explained he said that he didn’t hear me, couldn’t hear me. I looked it up and it was a real thing, just happens to some people, but I still tested it out the next time by yelling someone else’s name when he was coming. He didn’t even blink. We broke up, eventually, but not because of that. That boyfriend was probably why it didn’t faze me when I started hearing voices in the middle of sex.

The first time it happened, I heard someone say my name. It was just a whisper, a hint of something out of place. It flickered and was gone. I didn’t dwell on it. The second time, a guy’s fingers inside me, a little rough but insistent in a way I liked, and near the edge of release, I heard someone say “you don’t know what you want.” I asked the guy, “what?” And he just looked confused. I looked it up that night, typing into Google: “orgasm and audio hallucinations.” There were a surprising number of hits. I wasn’t going to let it bother me. But the next time, it told the future.

“Watch out for red,” the voice said, and I almost didn’t hear it over the guy’s moans. I wanted to tell him to be quiet, but that seemed rude in that particular moment. The voice didn’t say anything else, anyway. As I was walking home, I went to cross the street but saw a red car coming over the hill. It was far away and I had the light, but I stopped and it blew through the red light, not slowing down at all. I chalked this one up to coincidence, even though that didn’t sit right in my gut.

The voice started telling me more, only when I was with someone else, only when I was about to come. It advised me on things to avoid, on things to prepare myself for. But sometimes, it just asked me what I didn’t want to think about, “what do you want?” “what are you looking for?”

When I met Liam, I knew right away that something was different about him. When I talked to him, I didn’t want to hang up the phone. When we slept next to each other, I’d press my body closer to him, needing some part of me to be touching him all night so I could sleep. The voice didn’t say anything when he was inside me. It was like he quieted everything. But still I couldn’t tell him I loved him. I didn’t want to say something so permanent into the air. The problem with feelings is that once you say them, they’re not just yours anymore. They float in the air, get tangled up with someone else’s.

He got a job offer in another state, hours away, and asked me if he should take it. I shrugged, said he should do what he wanted. He nodded back, shrugged. Neither of us wanted to blink first. He took the job.

The night before he left, we fought about the stupidest thing I could think of—the way that he buttoned his shirts which lead to other things and bigger things. I always picked the most ridiculous fight with people right before I didn’t think I’d see them again. The sillier the subject the easier it was to keep amping up, leave them off guard until they didn’t realize how angry they really were with me. It felt like the best way to say goodbye, to leave them not wanting anything to do with me. But in the middle of the fight, he kissed me. And then we were on the bed, still angry, but also our bodies unable to not connect. He turned me onto all fours, fingers in me, and then he was. I braced myself, thankful for years of yoga and tabletop position so that my arms didn’t shake as he moved inside of me harder than he ever had before. I felt the flush of heat creeping up my throat, the trembling in my thighs, I was saying his name over and over, my voice rising a little louder with each iteration. And the voice said, “this is what you want.” Both our bodies shuddered, as we collapsed onto the bed. He reached his arms around me, pulling me closer to him.

“I love you,” I said. I waited to see if he’d reply, for any voice to break the quiet.

 

Chloe N. Clark’s work appears in Apex, Booth, Glass, Little Fiction, Uncanny, and more. Her chapbook The Science of Unvanishing Objects is out from Finishing Line Press and her debut full length collection, Your Strange Fortune, will be out Summer 2019. She is Co-EIC of Cotton Xenomorph. Find her on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes

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