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"The Over-Rated Importance of Sound" by Foster Trecost



We moved on Tuesday but didn’t unpack right away. Mom said the boxes made it look like we had more furniture so we left them taped up and I went for a walk. I announced my departure and I’m sure she responded but I had no way of knowing what she said. Reading lips only works if you can see them.                                                                               

I made my way out the building and merged onto a crowded sidewalk, but it wasn’t crowded with people. The transformation had begun, as it happens when I’m lonely, and turned everyone into trees. I found myself in the woods, the only boy around except I wasn’t a boy, I was a tree, just like everyone else. 

I ducked into a bodega to buy some gum, my limbs less leafy, my fingers again fingers, and grabbed the first pack I saw. I paid and put the change in my pocket, left and let the transformation continue until an intersection forced me to stop, me and some others, and I could feel myself feeling less like a tree. We were on our way to grapes, all of us, and grapes are much better than trees. When the light changed, I crossed with the bunch.

Dusk became dark and traffic jammed the streets. Headlights shot the car in front and I imagined the beams were a single beam, like long light-skewers piercing g through a car-kebob. I chewed gum and popped it rapid-fire, an annoying habit according to my mom, but I can’t comprehend sound being bothersome. A man collecting money shook a shiny bell, throwing rings at people who passed, an invasive tactic but no one seemed to mind, so I concluded no one minded my gum, either, and gave him the coins from my pocket.

Back in my building, my mom asked how I found the city. “Loud,” I joked. The boxes were gone and our apartment looked empty. “Does the bell matter?” I watched her mouth. Reading lips was easy; minds were a bit more difficult.

“Bell?”

“A man collecting money rang a bell.”

She asked if I gave him anything and I nodded, then realized that by answering her question, I’d also answered mine. 

She suggested tea. “Sounds good,” I said, and we both laughed. She returned with two mugs and we blew ripples on the surface.

“I felt like a grape.”

“When?”

“When I crossed the street.”

She smiled because she knew what I knew, that grapes are better than trees. The tea was hot and we blew more ripples.




Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, sometimes very short. Recent work appears in Halfway Down the Stairs, Flash Boulevard, and Club Plum. He lives near New Orleans with his wife and dog.


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