about the author

Kevin Kaiser was born and raised in Orange County, California. He (almost) has an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, where he lives with the poet Angela Parker. His fiction, poetry, and music are internationally published.

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Rain, Thunder, Ocean

Kevin Kaiser

For four hours I lie awake listening to Rain, Thunder, Ocean, Windchime. I think it’s Windchime. It’s wooden and doesn’t sound so much like Windchime as it does Marimba. But Marimba is not one of the choices, although Vibes is.

Windchime is not so perfect in its rhythm as Rain, Thunder, Ocean. But Windchime is on a loop that repeats every few seconds, so for it to produce any kind of variation in its imperfect rhythm is impossible. Of the four sounds playing on my sleep aid machine, it’s the most unnatural. I should turn it off or switch it to Crickets or Campfire or Creek (not Vibes; Vibes is too cheery). But adding Crickets or Campfire or Creek would ruin the effect of Rain, Thunder, Ocean. And I’ve decided I’m tired, I will sleep, and this product guarantees I will do that—I will sleep—so turning it off automatically means I admit at least one quarter defeat.

But what upsets me most is that although I’ve listened to the same Rain, the same Thunder, the same Ocean for four hours, with my eyes closed for four hours, on my back, on my side, on my stomach, and not the other side but upside down where my feet should be for four hours, all I can think about is how incessant Windchime’s rattle is, like bird bones on bamboo. It’s a hollow sound, an empty sound, a sound with no guts. Soundless. Waiting for something to create the sound within it.

Rain, Thunder, Ocean fade to white noise. I should want this—white noise to cancel all the sounds I don’t want to hear: City, Apartment, Me Tossing and Turning in a Queen-Sized Bed Alone. But I don’t want white noise, I want black noise: Black, Night, Fullness. I want to feel sound. Crash, Rumble, Patter. I focus on Rain, then Thunder, then Ocean, pick them out individually, dismember each, pull apart the sounds that make each sound. But through them all, Windchime rattles on. So close, so silent, like someone watching me sleep. As much as I want to lift my hand and smash it down on the machine, I don’t have the courage to do this.

When that rattle is gone, what will I be left with? Rain, Thunder, Ocean?

Or only Windless.

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