M. A. Street
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David hears music inside his head. In his case, it means that it is time to use his unique giftâ€”the power to heal by tou
Then the whales came.
A local expert said we had an entire pod, and that it was unusual for them to be migrating this late in the year for the Bering Straits from Mexico. No one knows exactly how the beaching happens, whether illness or lunacy causes them to lose their sense of direction, or whether it’s merely a case of follow-the-leader, but they ran themselves aground, determined to stay there until they died.
Twenty beached whales was big news, and hundreds of volunteers congregated north of the Point Sur Lighthouse where the gray whales lay, keeping them wet and trying to push and cajole them back into the sea. In most cases they were successful, or at least successful enough for the pod to continue its journey northward.
One whale was especially stubborn. Monstrously large, he resisted all efforts to be moved, and even when he was shoved into deeper water, seemed content to wallow in the shallows until he drowned. So they nudged him farther out to sea, until he began to swim away, perhaps realizing that in order to die he would have to do so out of reach of his well-intentioned cousins.
South. Unnoticed, he swam in the opposite direction until there were no more people, and he beached himself again, this time on a sandbar about fifty yards from shore, where only a single person noticed. Me.
I saw him from my deck. At first I thought the disturbance was a school of fish until he rolled and a pectoral fin stuck out of the water as if waving goodbye. The music began. I shoved it aside and drank my coffee and told myself the rippling water was just a school of fish.
Even then, I knew. I was moving down the steps, across the yard, toward the top of the cliff, angling down the steep, crooked path. I don’t think I fully realized what I was doing until I stepped into the water. The Pacific was cold, rousing me, and I stripped down to my underwear.
I swam to the sandbar afraid, not knowing whether he would struggle, attack, or move away. Instead he simply lay there, motionless except for the nudge of the breakers. I touched him, just to feel. His skin was rubbery, covered with patches of barnacles, but surprisingly warm to the touch. I began to stroke him, if for no other reason than the pleasure. Touching him was addictive, and I continued to stroke him over and over.
I began talking to him, whispering as if to a sick friend. Such a gentle old soul, unable or unwilling to move for reasons of his own. I didn’t know if he liked it or not, but he kept the part I was touching exposed.
The music rose again then, and I let it come.
I closed my eyes and looked away, almost as if I could see a lone piper on some faraway hill. The note was joined, tremulous but sweet in the sun. The note soothed me, and I let the music come.
The chord. I drank it in, vulnerable still, but rendered unaware I was even touching the beast. I was alone in the music. The chord grew in intensity, though still tenderly, as a gentle reminder as to why it was there, whispering what I had always been loath to hear—that it was a part of me. The music belonged there.
The chord began its final motion, and I let it come. For the first time in a decade, I let it come. There was a millisecond when I hesitated, when I knew I could still force the power back, but something remarkable happened, something that had only happened in that odd and awful dream as my mother lay dead. I could see the music in my hands. And in my inward eye I saw a shadow, such a dark red-blue it was almost black, wavering slightly as if beneath the water, a shadowy form surrounded by white.
The shadow form was the illness, in complete contrast to the rest, running from the back of the beast’s head all the way into a lung. I stretched my hands until I could cover both ends of the image, barely managing.
The chord rocketed upward, breaking free from any feeble confines I could have mustered, and I let the music come, the abandonment of a thousand instruments into perfect unity. I gasped with its ascension, and my self seemed to fall away, but there was no pain.
M A Street is a published author and produced playwright. He lives in the Upper Midwest with his wife, Donna.
“There is a moment when the reader is so absorbed that the pages disappear and all that remains in the story playing itself out in one’s head. That is the sign of true storytelling: when the book itself evaporates. With Hands, Street has accomplished that.” -- Gail Gabrielson, The Forum
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 212
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