The Pounding This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

July 21, 2013
I can hear pounding. This pounding noise is not the same as the sound of dark clouds pouring down onto tar or your bedroom window. Nor can it be likened to the sound of your heart beating fast or heavy when you're frightened, though I can hear this too.

This pounding is a gradual sound; it is slowly and steadily progressing toward me. This pounding is not the only thing I can hear.

I am aware, vaguely, of the choir of baby birds chirping. I can hear, vicariously, the sound of cicadas singing. I hear, almost subconsciously, the hollow scraping of a pumpkin as it is carved, and even the crackling of a fireplace as it wages war on Jack Frost. I hear all of this, but louder still is the pounding.

I don't know how long I've been hearing it, but the suspense is ­deafening.

You might assume that in sleep I'd find reprieve, but you would be incorrect. Even in my dreams I am haunted by the pounding, ever looming, ever nearer. My life, on a superficial level, has adjusted to the rhythm that the pounding orchestrates, and my days are spent dancing to the song of its choice. But how much can one's mind truly adjust to the knowledge that something unknown is impending?

It's a genuine gift that you cannot remember everything you've ever done. You don't truly forget anything, but your mind is capable of sorting the important and the unimportant, and for the most part it does a decent job of filing things into appropriate folders of “remember” and “forget.” If humans didn't have “forget folders,” I believe that they likely would have gone extinct a very long time ago. But this is just my intuition.

I've tried to forget the sound of the pounding. I've tried to manually place it in an envelope in a remote corner of my mind; tried to bury it beneath paperwork in hopes that I will forget where it is buried. But you cannot forget something that is happening right now, and I know now that the pounding is something I cannot ignore.

I am scared of the pounding. As a human, it is only natural that I be threatened by what I don't understand. But I am not inclined to hide from it. I am not sure what it is, and I am not sure of its intentions or the reason for its coming. I know only that I must face it head on.

I have never heard anyone talk about the pounding, so I guess I'm the only one who can hear it. Maybe I'm crazy. When I was younger, I remember hiding from the pounding, denying its existence, trying to erase all evidence of it.

I didn't want to know. When I was thirteen, I awoke one morning, the bedsheet beneath me looking like it'd been used to bandage a wound, my wound – evidence of what they told me should be a secret, taught me how to hide since I was old enough to notice it being hidden. A thing that is shrouded in mystery and hushed tones, a thing we're told to dread from the moment we're old enough to understand its existence, before we're even old enough to understand its purpose. I didn't want to know that this thing had crawled up one night and become a part of me in my sleep, and, more than that, I didn't want anyone else to know. I hid my bedsheets and tried to bury beneath them what I didn't want to know: how much closer the pounding had gotten.

When I was sixteen and got my first job, I didn't want to know. I didn't want to acknowledge why I got the job, even when my boss looked at me like that, like he wanted something from me. And I didn't want to know what he wasn't asking me, what his eyes were asking my body. I ­didn't want to see, because it made the pounding so much louder.

I started to care when I chose a career. At first I didn't want to acknowledge how few there were like me. And I still don't know why and I still don't understand ­society's views on the roles of a man, but I am forced to acknowledge the pounding now, because it's hard to fight something about which I have no knowledge.

I tried to put the pounding out of my mind one time, when I was 21 and I was caught driving, a few months after my birthday, a few miles from the bar where I had a couple of drinks. I guess those flashing lights saw that I was driving just a little short of straight. The cop got out, and the flashlight was bright – blinding, like the reality of him staring and then telling me “Don't drive angry,” like the ­reality of the fact that I drove home that night with the pounding giving me a headache. It'd never been so loud. I almost turned around and demanded he arrest me. But I didn't.

I live dancing to its song. I am cloaked in its presence. The pounding is the headache I wake up with every morning; it's something I'm still trying to understand because it's always easier to try to hide. The pounding won't ever stop; I know this, like I know that I must face it. I know that some day it will gallop up to me, shaking the ground with the hooves of its cavalry, and I wish I had someone to help me fight it. I wish I had someone to tell me about it, because knowledge is power, and I can't fight it alone when I'm the only one who doesn't deny it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Grace W. said...
May 20, 2014 at 5:43 pm
Your detail is superb- I feel as I am apart of the moment.
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