His ears were highly tuned instruments. They had always been. Christopher could hear and distinguish even the smallest sound, even the whisper of an ant a mile away. Or at least that’s how it felt to him. No wonder that he couldn’t stand loud noises. They hurt his ears, hurt his brain and made his life miserable.

And noise was everywhere. Christopher would wake up in the night when his neighbors came home from parties, dirty diesel running, shouts, laughter, car doors smashing – and he had murder on his mind.

When he tried to write, the washing machine and the chatter of his cleaning lady drove him nuts. The vacuum cleaner would suck all creativity right out of his soul. He wanted to kill himself.

His kids were magical beings, distilled from pure joy of life – and unable to share their wonderful discoveries without shouting at the top of their lungs – from a distance of mere centimeters.

Christopher would make love to his wife, but the more agitated she became, the more noise she would make – until her screams pierced his ears in her moment of climax. He was willing to tolerate that. Secretly he fantasized about talking his wife into S&M – so that he could handcuff her, push a black rubber ball into her mouth to gag her. Not for sexual pleasure, but it would shut her up.

He felt guilty for having such thoughts. Just as he felt guilty about his reaction to his children. The little ones regularly rushed at him with pointed cries of joy – and he backed away in horror. The thought that others might feel exactly the same pain as he did, never crossed his mind. If he had googled his symptoms, he would have come across a sickness called “hyperacusis”. He was sick, but he believed what others often confirmed to him: that he was an asshole, because he couldn't stand having people in his life.

Christopher would seek refuge in the deepest part of the forest. He longed for tranquility in the calm, dim light under the trees. But sure enough someone would start up a motor saw and cut right through his soul. Even when that didn’t happen: There would always be birds, chirping happily. 

One day his wife was chatting on WhatsApp with her mother, while starting the dishwasher. Down on the street a delivery van backed up and two neighbors started an agitated argument about the children’s pushchairs on the house floor. His blood pressure shot through the roof, the sounds around him got distorted and his heart quit its job – effective immediately.

His funeral was a quiet event. Or would have been if the priest wouldn’t have gone on and on and on about how much everyone loved him and how dearly he would be missed. Blah, blah, blah…

All he wanted was some peace and quiet.

They led the coffin down into the grave. It was narrow and deep. The funeral guests started shoving earth into the grave. Christopher could hear lumps of earth and stone hitting the cover of his coffin. Boom, boom, boom. If he could, he would have screamed: “Shut. The. Fuck. Up!” Slowly, slowly the noise got muzzled, more distant, until he would only feel the odd vibrations of new earth piled onto his coffin and then: Nothing.

Total silence.

It was heaven.

Days went by. Then weeks. Worms and bacteria devoured his flesh without asking for permission. Christopher didn’t mind as long as they kept their mouth shut. They feasted on him until only his bare bones were left. Month’s past, then years. Only his skeleton remained and the absolute silence in his paradise of the two by one meter wooden coffin.

His mind finally rested. 

In the darkness of his grave Christopher found his joy of life again.

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