Notes: This is one of two entries I did for the second round of the 500-word drabble contest at the J/B LiveJournal community. Sorry it's short, but it's supposed to be. :) Title is from "The Sea and the Rhythm" by Iron and Wine.
Bella gets lonely with Jacob out hunting Victoria. He thinks if he could leave something for her one day just to show he wishes he were there, it might make her feel better.
Her bedroom is so perfectly tidy it's scary, with hardly anything in it. She must have thrown things away to forget him, empty her life, numb herself. What do you give someone who wants nothing?
Going in her room, Bella finds the window open, something left on her bed.
A cassette tape. The insert is cut from the shopping list Jacob made months ago of parts they needed to buy together for the bikes. All he's written on it is Something to pass the time while I'm gone. Sighing wistfully, she slips it in her jacket pocket for now.
"You made me a mix tape," she tells him the next day.
His back is facing her as they go into his house. "Yep."
She bites her lip. "Doesn't say what's on it."
"Pssh. Track lists are for the weak," he says, then teases, "Like you'd know half the bands on one anyway."
Later as they sit at the beach, they're both tired and stay mostly silent. Silences never feel uncomfortable with Jacob. Sometimes, like when he knew somehow she doesn't like music, it's like he can hear what she thinks without her speaking anyway.
The soft constant sound of the ocean is almost musical. But it's not an attacking presence of sound, just a subtle one seeming to gradually heal as it gently smoothes over her.
They planned to cliff-dive, but Jacob isn't here. While sitting in her truck and pondering what to do, she feels something hard in her pocket. She takes the tape out, slowly slides it in the deck.
The speakers whisper ffffffffff as it starts playing. Then the blank canvas of sound just continues, smoothly rolling on and on with nothing. Slowly she smiles.
Jacob never asks if she listened to the tape. She knows that wasn't really the point.
When he's on the hunt again, the anxiety sends her pacing around restlessly. She sighs, gets her stereo from her closet, puts in the blank cassette, and lies down, just letting the ongoing blank sound calm her. Eventually she hears the brief cutoff of side A switching to B.
Fifteen minutes later it comes, delicate guitar chords and whispery singing creeping from the silence. Hearing it, she stays still. The slow, drawn-out lyrics describe making love and also being in love, bodies together and also the transcending of bodies, feeling one with someone else and also with the sea and everything.
She plays it eight times.
She mentions the song hidden on side B. Seeming embarrassed, Jacob gives a forced laugh and says, "Never thought you'd actually listen to the whole thing."
Now she's embarrassed, too. "...I did."
"You weren't exactly...meant to hear it."
A pause of realization draws him closer, lightly touching her shoulder and looking in her eyes. "Unless...you're ready to..."
She swallows, finally understanding. She doesn't want nothing and numbness anymore, was never really getting that from him. With Jacob, even silence holds something, holding her together.