The Noise


Every hour or so, I hear that sound. I don’t know what it is or where it’s coming from, but I know it’s real.

I just can’t prove it.

My husband thought it was funny at first. I’d make him stop and listen whenever I heard it, but he always said the same things. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or worse, “are you sure you’re not going crazy?” It wasn’t until I had unplugged every appliance in the house that he finally started to believe me, but he never said he heard it as well.

He believed that I believe I hear a noise; the worst possible result.

At least he was kind enough to put my prescribed ear drops in for me. My doctor suggested it was an inner ear problem. An inflamed muscle or something pushing a vein closer to my eardrum. I know what my heartbeat sounds like and it’s definitely not shhrrr-shhrrr-shhrrr, but I humoured the diagnosis.

Who knows? Maybe she’s right. She’s the professional after all, and I’m just the crazy woman hearing noises no one else can with my head tilted over the sink.

“Instructions say to hold your head like that for thirty seconds after they go in,” John said.

“This feels weird,” I said.

“She said it could take a few days for it to heal whatever’s damaged inside,” John said. “I really hope this helps; I haven’t slept on the couch this much since college.”

“No one’s making you sleep on the couch, that was your choice.”

“I’m sorry, maybe you’re mistaking me for your other husband who doesn’t mind being woken up every hour throughout the night.”

“Very funny. You think I want to feel like this?” I tilt my head back the other way and grab a tissue, wiping out the excessive liquid John dropped into my ear. Three drops the doctor said, but you’d think he was trying to pressure-wash the inside of my head.

“No,” John said, squeezing more drops into my other ear, “I’m just worried about you. I’d hate to think something was really wrong. I keep hoping it’s some weird frequency in the house that you can hear and I can’t, but I can’t think of where the sound might be coming from.”

“We didn’t try unplugging the water heater or the furnace yet.”

“Let’s consider those the ‘nuclear’ options. The coffee maker I didn’t mind, the fridge and the deep freezer were when I started to get concerned.”

“We could always—“


John stared at me as I cut my sentence off. He sighed, twisting the cap back onto the bottle of drops. “God damn it,” I said under my breath, dabbing the remaining drops out of my ears. The liquid felt cold as it was exposed to the air; an unpleasant sensation.

“Let’s get to bed; I’m sure this stuff’ll work its magic overnight.”

It didn’t.

I’m still awake every hour of the night. Some miraculous nights I’m able to sleep through it, but those are few and far between. Tonight was particularly bad.

I always come out to the garage whenever it’s like this; something about the cold helps me relax. There was too much junk in the garage for us to park the car inside, which always made John unhappy this time of year. Going to work with your ass freezing to your leather seats would do that to anyone.

I shouldn’t call it “junk” exactly; our garage was used as storage for my father’s woodworking projects. He kept telling us that he would clear it out soon, but it felt like every day a new tool would appear, or an unfinished chair would be tossed on the pile.

He was one of those guys who was in love with the idea of a project rather than seeing it through to the end.

He died last month. 65 years old. Speaking of seeing projects through to the end; he wasn’t even alive as long as he was supposed to be. He was supposed to be the fun grandpa I could take our kids to when we had errands to run, but now he’s just dead.

I think John was relieved when he died. Dad was always trying to drive a wedge between us. I could never figure out why, but he always hated John. He was very traditional, in a “sex after marriage” kind of way. That’s how he and Mom made me, something he told me many times.

When John asked if he could marry me, my father said no. After Mom died, I was the only woman left in his life, and I think he thought John was going to take me away as well. He didn’t even come to the wedding.

I went to visit him afterwards and somehow got sucked into taking in his woodworking collection. Maybe part of me thought it was a way to repair our relationship, however minor of a gesture it might’ve been at the time, but it didn’t work.

He died bitter and angry at the world. At John. At me.

And yet I can’t help but smile when I look at some of the projects in here. Every week he would build me something new when I was a child. A rocking horse, a push car, and even a chess board that I still play with to this day.

He’d always have a big smile on his face whenever he brought something to me. “Come outside and see,” he’d say, or, in the rare case where I managed to break something, he’d say, “don’t worry honey, I’ll fix it for you.”

He always said that whenever he knew he could solve one of my problems.

I was always fond of his handsaw. It was rugged and imprecise, but he knew how to use it like no other. I lost track of how many times I’d seen him cutting a piece of wood with it, wondering what he was building next.

Damn it Dad, you really tried your hardest to ruin all those memories.

I went back inside and crawled into bed for another sleepless night. I missed getting up early and going for runs. I missed having a job to go to. I missed sleeping beside my husband, the human furnace.


I desperately hoped those drops worked soon.

Four days without change. It was enough to make a woman go crazy if she wasn’t already. I told John he should just douse my ears with the drops, but he refused. According to the doctor, overuse could be just as bad if not worse.

What could be worse than what I was experiencing now?

I stared up at the ceiling from my bed. My eyes were heavy and glossed over. I could feel my body desperately trying to shut itself down so it can rest, but I couldn’t, knowing that shhrrr-shhrrr-shhrrr would wake me up at any moment if I did. It was a game of chicken with a supposedly imaginary noise.

“I’ll be in my office,” John said, kissing my forehead. He used to do that before he left for work, but he changed jobs so he could stay home and take care of me. Some data entry thing that I know he hates, but at least it lets us keep the house.


I had enough.

I tore the covers off the bed and stormed into the bathroom. There was an easy way to make the noise stop. I ripped open the drawer under the sink and start rifling through for the— ouch. I found what I was looking for: a sewing needle.

Mom would use one to remove splinters Dad’s fingers. She swore it worked better than tweezers, and to her credit, it did. We didn’t get splinters often, but I always kept a needle in the bathroom out of comfort.
For me they served another purpose.

I could hear John running towards the stairs. There was no way he would let me do this. I needed to be quick. I lined up the needle with my ear and grit my teeth, thrusting it in. At first there was no resistance, and then I felt the tip pierce through the fine membrane inside and into my pesky eardrum.

I might as well have used a hot poker for how painful it was, but if I kept going I could maybe—

“Holy shit,” John said, racing into the bathroom. He grabbed my arm and wrenched the needle free from my grasp. “That won’t solve anything!” A trickle of blood fell from my head. My left ear seemed to think John was underwater, but my right could still hear him perfectly fine.

I threw up into the sink as the world around me went dark. The last thing I remember were John’s arms catching me as I fell.

I still don’t understand why they had to handcuff me to my bed. Maybe I shouldn’t have shoved a needle in my ear to make an imaginary noise go away, but it wasn’t like I was going to do it again; that hurt like hell.

Even worse was the fact there was a shrink sitting at my bedside asking me all these annoying questions. According to him, the noise is most likely some form of grief over my father’s death. He went on to explain how the body can do things like that when it’s stressed, but knowing that didn’t help, and it definitely didn’t make the noise go away.

I could see him talking to John outside once he left. John kept looking at me as they spoke. He must’ve told them what happened when he brought me here, including the noise. Great, now everyone thinks I’m crazy.
John slid the door open after the shrink left. I could tell he was forcing himself to smile. “What’d he say?” I asked.

“They want to put a psychiatric hold on you for a few days,” John said. “It’s just to make sure you won’t hurt yourself again.”

“I promise I won’t. I want to go home.”

“I know. But it’s only a few days while they try and figure out what’s going on,” John said, stroking my hair. He had a look on his face that suggested he had more he wanted to say.

“What?” I said. He closed his eyes, clearly bracing himself for whatever he was about to say.

“They want to start you on antipsychotics.”

“And what did you tell them?”

“I thought it was a good idea.”

“John, I’m not fucking crazy. I don’t need pills, I don’t need—“

“It’s just for a while to see if they help. If not, we’ll move onto something else.”

“Like what, tossing me in a psych ward? Well you can forget it, I’m not consenting. I want to go home.”

“No one’s tossing you anywhere; we just need to figure out what’s wrong with your ears.”

“Take me home, John,” I said, tears starting to form in my eyes. “I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to go home.” I repeated it over and over again. I thrashed against my handcuffs, trying to rip them free. If I could just get them off then maybe I could get home. John tried to calm me down, but a nurse ran in and hit me with a sedative. My muscles relaxed as I sank into the bed.

I don’t even know what time it was when I finally woke up. John was passed out on a couch in the room, covering his face with a pillow. I had seen him a few times like that on the couch at home. I felt bad then, and oddly enough, I felt bad now.

I know he was just trying to help me, but it feels like he did everything wrong. A group of strangers were examining me like I was a nutcase, trying to figure out if they could crack me open and rewire my insides to make me normal.

Then again, I was currently tied to a hospital bed because I perforated my own eardrum; maybe they were onto something.


For God’s sake. I tried to ignore it, but it was here too? Part of me hoped that it was something in the house we hadn’t found yet. Did John sneak the coffee maker in under his arm? There was nothing from home here other than—


“John,” I said. “John, wake up.” He pulled the pillow off his face and looked at me. “I think the noise is coming from you.”

“What? That doesn’t make any sense,” he said, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

None of this makes sense.”

“I’ll say. Why don’t you try going back to sleep?”

“Every time I’ve heard it, you’ve been nearby. Think about it. We’ve been attached at the hip for the last month.”

“Because your father died,” he said. “Let’s experiment. I’m going home to get some sleep, and I’ll be back in the morning. You let me know if you heard the noise or not.”

“Fine.” He left.

It turned out I was right, proven by the fact I didn’t hear the noise for the next five days. But I didn’t see John again either. I tried to call him from the hospital, but he wouldn’t pick up. This noise, whatever it was, had killed our marriage.

They discharged me several days later with a series of prescriptions, and a set of instructions to return should anything unusual occur. Nothing about this was usual. It did, however, mean I could finally get a full night’s sleep in my own bed.

I stared at the ceiling as I drifted off. I reached out to the other side of the bed for John, but then I remembered. I missed him, even if he was the cause of my temporary insanity. The pills finally kicked in, ejecting me from this world and into unconsciousness.



I forced my eyes open, tearing myself from sleep.


It was louder this time. I got out of bed. God damn it, where was he?


It was different this time; it sounded wet.

I felt my blood turn to ice.

“John?” I said. My heart was pounding, but my feet shuffled forward on their own. Squish. There was a pool of crimson running from the kitchen and soaking into the edges of the living room carpet. I braced myself as I rounded the corner.

John’s body was lying on the kitchen table.


The sound of a saw cutting through his spine. The noise stopped as his head hit the floor. A man stood over my husband with a smile so wide it tore the flesh in his cheeks.

“Don’t worry honey, I fixed him for you.”

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Creative writer at heart, but a copywriter and editor by trade.

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