Writing Prompt: Noise

“Clack, clack, clack.” The metallic sound woke her, as it had every night since she was left alone. She lay still, feeling the chug, chug, chug, of her new heart. She’d never noticed the clacking before. Was it new? Was it a sign of some malfunction? Maybe just the new quiet of her house. No more people bustling about, checking her vitals, adjusting her bed.

A night light glowed dimly from the bathroom. Her walker stood by the bed, within arm’s reach, a safe sentinel. No rugs to trip on.

But that sound. It can’t be good. It matched the muffled chug of her heart, a new, experimental mechanical wonder. She was the first to survive implantation, the long hospital stay, the rehab, the glorious return to her beloved home. A quiet oasis in the woods, far from that horrible beeping, light-polluted hospital busting with nurses and interns and doctors all hours of the day and night. For weeks, for months.

This was all she wanted. To get back home. Now she worried. What if it broke down? She had an emergency call button. All she had to do was push it. But how long would it take EMTs to get here? Why had they even let her return to this god-forsaken outback?

“You’re doing just fine,” her surgeon had declared a week after the procedure, when she’d been unhooked from all the life support contraptions. She felt OK. Weird. It was a completely different sensation. Like a water pump chugging away, not in the bilge on her little boat, but inside her body. A sump pump for her blood supply.

Clack, clack, clack.

It drove her nuts, listening to that every night. Like a mechanical telltale heart. What was it trying to tell her? You didn’t deserve this. Clack, clack, clack.

But at least I didn’t take a perfectly good heart from someone who was using it, she argued back to herself. They did that in some countries.

Someone had to go first, she continued her defense. It wasn’t my fault they didn’t get it right until me. How many had failed? She didn’t know. You couldn’t get that information. Proprietary, they said.

Clack, clack, clack.

She wondered, now that she had survived, why. What was she supposed to do now?

“Anything you want,” her rehab counselor had told her. “You’re fine. Approved for all physical activities.”

Still, she’d been cautious, overly careful. Hadn’t even left the house in the week she’d been home, after the aides had left, convinced she’d be fine. “Just come in for your checkups,” they told her.

“Like an annual oil change?” she said, trying a joke.

They laughed appropriately.

Clack, clack, clack.

She sat up, listening. Swung her legs over the side of the bed. Set her feet on the floor. Bare feet on cool wood. She stood. No lightheadedness. The machine accommodated changes in elevation, exertions, she’d read in the brochure.

She walked carefully to the bathroom. Bionic cyborg or not, she still had to pee. Sitting there, listening, the clacking was much louder. She looked at the heat register in the floor. The little flappy thing was waving back and forth. Clack, clack, clack.

She shook her head in disbelief. “Well, damn. Guess I’ll go outside and chop some wood tomorrow.”

What was I thinking?

Not much, but I did have the experience of reading in my living room, shortly after turning the heat on this year, and hearing a clacking sound. Turned out it was the “little flappy thing” in the register. The rest just came to me.

Now the obligatory sell. If you like my writing, check out my novel Endurance. If you like Endurance (or Wishbone or A Perfect Life), consider leaving a review on Goodreads or Amazon. I have a lot of high ratings, but few actual reviews. They help readers decide what to read, so think about it. Doesn’t have to be much or stressful. This isn’t a book report (do they still do those?). And thanks!



  1. I liked this a lot. Thanks for posting it.

    I’ve always greatly enjoyed your stories.

    1. Thanks, Miriam!

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