Yesterday I heard the wild parrots screeching across the sky, and the hail coming down onto a metal roof. I heard someone whispering in the corner of the classroom between student presentations, and a bicycle coming up the street, then whooshing past me. These may seem somewhat benign to you, but for nearly two weeks, because of a middle ear infection, I could not hear at all with my right ear. Two weeks ago, what is now only a soft bit of white noise, was the pulsing of fluid and the beating of my heart and nothing else. My electric toothbrush was an annoying vibration. I could not hear the wind rush past me.
Every day, my hearing returns more and more and it’s miraculous, really, this world of sound we live in, the one I took for granted. Until last week, singers sounded tinny and childlike, so listening to songs with lyrics was unpleasant. My own singing voice was foreign and buried, so there were weeks without music or harmony. The rushing water in my sink finally sounds like fluid, and not like crackling paper. I can hear the bus at the bottom of the hill humming at first, then the engine purring louder as it climbs up, up, up. It turns out that the lonely dachshund on a deck nearby is still yapping at passersby. And today in the grocery store, I felt the once muffled voices in the next aisle break through a shroud with the clarity and pleasure of good old eavesdropping.
Even my loud neighbors are bringing me joy.
The writing prompt for this piece is below.
Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound it represents. It is derived from the Greek ónoma meaning “name.” and poein, meaning “to make.” It literally means to make the name.
Here are some common onomatopoeias:
splash smash bang drip gush kerplunk slam plunk buzz whack wap growl pop squeak clip-clop
mumble hush boom tinkle clang moan groan murmur slap crunch boom bam wham plop kerplop
For this exercise, please begin with one of the words above, and place us in the middle of a scene with the sense of sound. Allow your writing to take you on a journey; don’t be too concerned about where you’re going. Just let the sound take you somewhere, and write into that place. Consider the action in the following sentences to lead you into a scene:
A plate is dropped on the floor.
A balloon just burst.
A gun shot rings through the air.
Someone is eating something crispy or crunchy.
A bright light is switched on.
A fierce dog is behind a rickety fence.
Somewhere, a small bell is ringing.