Silence is a fiction for romantics and writers and other members of non-reality. Somewhere down the hall a clock is always ticking. Outside the window the wind always blows or birds sing or insects hum or rain clicks against the glass. Silence implies an emptiness that, while attractive in theory, simply doesn’t exist. Let the Taoists and poets keep it, Seto’s long since dismissed silence to the realms of fantasy.
The digital clock on Seto’s desk changes from 3:13 to 3:14 and that means he’s officially been awake for fifty-one hours. It’s a realization that comes without ceremony or anxiety or really much of anything at all. He’s more intently focused on how astringently his eyes sting than the predictable passage of another block of time. Certainly there’s a correlation between how infrequently he blinks, the sole light source of the room being the dim blue glow of his computer monitor and the uncomfortable dryness of his eyes but it, like every other bodily inconvenience, gets filed away for future analysis.
It’s possible that Seto hasn’t spoken a single word in those fifty-one hours. He plays no music (though trained extensively in the world's classical styles he harbors nothing but resentment for them) and carries out no external dialogue. But it isn’t silent. It’s nowhere near that. His towers hum and whir, his fingers click noisily on the hard plastic keys, phones ring, elevators chime and floors below him thousands of people conduct their daily racket on the sidewalks. But that’s all external pollution. Even if all of those things suddenly stopped and Domino stood still as death, silence would never reveal itself to Seto.
Always he can hear his heart pumping, reliable and loud and steady as any clock's second hand, he can hear the numbers for his programming solving themselves and lining up like soldiers. The din of his tangled mass of self forming and reproducing ideas is impossible to stifle and ever constant. Ever evolving and demanding his attention. Silence is an ideal as far away from him as love or contentment. All lost to a host of more exacting and competitive and unquenchable abstracts.
A red light blinks on his answering machine and Seto absently leans a few degrees to his left to hit the play button. He’s heard the message a numbing amount of times but something keeps him from deleting it. It’s a break. A vacation from his own voice and thoughts for a staggering three minutes and seventeen seconds. The message is random and disorganized and free in a way Seto could never conceptualize in a voice so different from his own that it sounds like how a glass of water tastes to a parched mouth. It rambles and honestly lacks purpose all together, just a series of frustrated sighs and sentences started then self-consciously cutoff, some ‘um’s and more than a few ‘shit’s and a single ‘I dunno, I just been thinkin’ about ya’. It doesn’t end in a goodbye but in a muffled ‘-are you leaving a message?’ from a higher, softer voice.
Seto’s mouth silently moves in unison with the words from the recording and relieves his stiffness better than any pill or exercise. When it ends he shifts back in his chair and rubs his hand over his eyes. The two voices have lifted the corners of his mouth (without his permission) into a barely detectable smile.
“Alright,” he assents to the answering machine, voice cracking from disuse. “I’ll go.”
With a deep breath Seto pushes his chair back and surveys his desk. Four empty mugs leaving dirty rings on the glass surface, five once separate stacks of blueprints and R&D documents that have migrated and mingled into a single amorphous spread of diagrams and text. Leave it. His head rushes when he stands but he steadies himself as he walks to the doors of his study almost blindly. The unfinished codes, the paperwork, the voice mail- everything will be there when he wakes up, exactly how he left them. Another block of time will pass before he listens to the message again and although the simplistic beauty and calm of silence will continue to elude him he’ll go on chasing the shadows of his mind and listening in solitude, gleaning company and insight and inspiration from the ceaseless noise.