Noise Machine

by Ana Marie Cox

natomical drawing showing cross section of the ear with many fragile and delicate structures in there, from the book "Tidens naturlære" 1903 by Poul la Cour
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Last summer, my brain broke so hard that I heard the voice of God. But weeks before God spoke to me, I heard a buzz.

I first heard it late at night, low-frequency, almost a purr. I thought it might be the train that runs a few blocks from my house. But no. It didn’t waver or fade. I turned off the ceiling fan, but that only stilled the air. So, it’s the HVAC, running high to keep the Texas heat at bay. Can’t turn that off. I wasn’t worried. I started to notice the whispery static during the day now, too; it faded when I turned my attention to something else.

But at night I was wakeful, agitated. I didn’t know it then, but it would be September before I slept through the night again. I ordered ear buds advertised specifically to stay in when you tossed and turned, but out they fell at the slightest jostle. The noise was getting louder, too. I began to suspect that it was in my head; it was coming from inside my ears, not outside them.

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