Chris Bullard

Tinnitus

I hear this noise every night when I go to bed. Like a kettle whistling, but inside me. It’s like electricity. I’ve heard noises in the house before: buzzes, hums, clicks, framework cracking like bad knees, the machinery blowing cold into the rooms, then huffing before it quiets. That’s not it. I hear this noise in the way I used to hear my own thinking. Not those times when I was just thinking about getting the laundry done or making a shopping list in my head, but when I was thinking about something I didn’t want to think about, something I couldn’t stop thinking about. I’ve made the best of it. That’s what I told my husband. I don’t think he heard me. I think he doesn’t want to hear me. He claims he doesn’t hear the noise. Maybe, he tunes it out, just like he tunes me out. I asked him, “Don’t you hear that?” “What?” he said. “That noise” I said, “like electricity crackling, like lightning. Could there be lightning in the house?” “Go to sleep,” he said. He’s dead to the world, that one. Every night he’s dead to the world as soon as his head hits that pillow. Maybe, he’s dead even before that. I count down all of the things in the house that use electricity: the lights, the stove, the refrigerator, the entertainment system, the coffee pot, the computer, the printer, the phone, the message machine, the garage door, the alarm clock. I count them like sheep, but I don’t sleep. We didn’t have all of those things when we moved in. Maybe, we added too many things that use electricity. Does electricity have weight? Could the weight of all that electricity running through the wires in the house make the roof sag and rumble, or the walls groan? They say that electricity has no weight, but aren’t thoughts like electricity? I can feel my thoughts like a weight in my head. I’d like to shut the electricity down. Maybe I could take the fuses out of the fuse box. Maybe there’s a switch down there I could just shut off. Can there be too much electricity? There used to be electricity between me and my husband. Now, there’s just noise in my head.