I remember how it all started, rather vividly. For the past six months, I’ve been inflicted with insomnia. Sleep has been impossible. Days had started to blend together, and nights were all the same. Hour after hour of staring at the unchanging ceiling, hour after hour of listening to my blood pound in my ears. Books were useless. I couldn’t concentrate, it seemed like my brain would not shut off. Sleeping pills worked the first two nights, and then I was wide awake again by the third. Everything was surreal, and all I wanted was sleep.
After six weeks of this, I started to take walks at night. At about midnight, I would quietly let myself out of our small house and walk the streets until the sun rose. Then one night I walked to the beach. I picked a spot and sat down and stared out at the waves. The endless crashing blended into the dark night’s silence, making it the most peaceful lullaby I had ever heard. It was my own symphony. The waves crashing on the sand and the wind whistling over the beach was like Beethoven to me. And it all seemed to blend seamlessly into the silence that offered the greatest sound of all. And for the first time in over a month, I slept. Right there on the sand, on the beach, listening to my symphony.
I woke up near dawn, to the peck of a curious seagull. My first reaction was panic, but once I realized that I had slept, it was of complete happiness. After I had picked the sand out of my ears and out of my hair, I sat in the sand and watched the sunrise before getting up and walking back to my house. This was the first day in a long time where I had felt it was good to be alive. So the next night, I did the same thing but I brought a towel with me. My symphony played me a private concert every night, with encores and fermatas galore. And every morning, I watched the sunrise and took the walk back to my house in peace.
It was after this had been going on for a while that I heard the singing. After laying down and listening to the ocean, I fell asleep. I woke up and it was still dark. Unaware of why I was awake, I tried to focus back in on my symphony, when I noticed that another instrument had been added to my orchestra. It was a voice as wistful as the wind and as light as the sea spray. I was paralyzed as I sat and listened. I started to make out the words of the song, as the tune wove itself perfectly into the crashing waves.
“As the sunsets, and the stars rise,
We come out and rub our eyes
We sing our tunes and cast our nets
We splash and play but ne’er forget
That when the sun comes and the stars hide,
We take our leave and down we dive.”
I was mystified. Whoever this was, whoever was singing, had taken my symphony to a whole new level. I looked around wildly for the person who was singing, and made out a shape sitting on the rocky outcrop that bordered the sea to my left. I started to get up, but then a thought occurred to me. What if she came here for the same reason I did, to be alone? I quelled my first instinct and stayed put. And besides, if she knew I was listening she might not sing anymore, and what a tragedy that would be. I listened as she sang about the shells and the stars and the sand, and I fell asleep to her voice in my ears.
When I awoke at dawn, the singing had stopped. I walked over to the outcrop but she was nowhere to be seen. There was an old fish bone lying on the rock, and a fish scale in the color of blue. But, when I picked it up, it suddenly looked green. And on closer inspection, it appeared purple. It was roughly the size of a quarter and was slick to the touch. I pocketed it and looked around the rocky area for footsteps. Curiously enough, there were none. As dawn drew nearer, I realized it was time to go. So, with my curiosity completely unsatisfied, I left.
As the nights went by, I feel asleep to the dulcet tones of the mysterious singer. I was too afraid to approach her, for fear she would stop singing. And every morning when I woke up, she was gone, and there were no footsteps. Frequently, I found the kaleidoscope scales and seashells on the girls perch. Every day I went home disappointed, slowly trudging through the sand.