Late night in their Boston apartment, Thomas and Seth are in bed drifting off to sleep when Seth, a musician with an all-too keen ear for sound (as well as a musician’s aptitude for math) asks, “What’s that?” rousing Thomas who, annoyed, attunes his hearing and then mumbles dismissively, “Just a plane.” A vapor trail furrows the night sky.
Leaving Logan Airport, Sean’s flight to Dublin is behind schedule. He is on his way to Swords to visit his late wife Sheila’s distant relatives, whom he has never met. Seven hours later, sleepless yet still affable, he is walking toward baggage claim when he overhears a man whispering into his cell phone in a soothing voice.
Saija stands in her hotel room in Varanasi, their room, overlooking the Ganges, near the Hanuman Ghat. “Gareth,” she says softly, caressing the sleek black mouthpiece. And just hearing her say his name as he strolls through Dublin Airport, he is overcome with desire, recalls when they were last together, at his apartment in London, entwined in bed.
“I’m on my way,” Gareth says. He has been traveling on business for the past month, his small flat on a busy street near Leicester Square uninhabited. He left the kitchen window, protected by a grill, cracked open, and as Vanessa, on her way to a symposium, strides by in her long skirt and flowing scarf, a dust ball rolls across the tile floor, no cat to chase it.
The symposium speaker asks: “Remember how the music in ‘Blow-Up’ is diegetic, only when the radio is on or someone puts on a record?” No one recalls, but another speaker says what he can’t forget is the soundtrack when the photographer revisits the possible crime scene. “Psithurism,” the first man states, “the sound of wind through trees.”
Robin Lippincott is the author of six books—four novels, a collection of short stories, and, most recently, Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell. His fiction and nonfiction has appeared in over 30 journals, including “The Paris Review,” “Fence,” “American Short Fiction,” “The New York Times Book Review,” and others. He teaches in the low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University.