On the drive home from the doctor’s office matters had gotten worse. Each sound that reached his ears caused a sensation in his body and tortured his mind. Stopped at a traffic light he heard a bird in an adjacent tree begin to sing out. The high piercing song of the bird gave him the sensation of needles being inserted into his ears, or at least what he supposed that would feel like.
When the light changed he had peeled off like he was in a drag race. Though the birdsong was beyond the reach of his ears he could feel it just the same. He stopped at a drug store and bought a pair of earplugs. He couldn’t risk another horrible sound getting to him. By the time he reached home he was a nervous wreck.
When he got inside all he wanted to do was hide from the world. There had to be a reason this was happening. The doctor was wrong; it wasn’t in his mind. Or was it? It had felt so wrong when it was suggested to him. He reached into his pocket and took out the slip of paper with the name and phone number of the psychologist the doctor had given him.
He couldn’t continue like this. If there were any chance of help he would be foolish not to pursue it. He lay on the bed in the soothing darkness and tried to ignore the sensations eating at him. The raindrops. The birdsong. How much more could he possibly contain? He didn’t want to find out.
He got up and made the call. He told the receptionist that he had been given a referral and she gave him an appointment for the next day. He felt a bit better after he hung up the phone and went to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. Putting on the kettle he didn’t give a second thought to consequences but as he put the teabag in the cup and stood waiting he was stabbed with blinding pain between his eyes when the water boiled and the kettle let out its shrill whistle.
He staggered backwards out of the kitchen, his hands over his ears, a pain so intense in his head he thought it would explode. He bolted out of the house to get away from the sound unaware that he was screaming at the top of his lungs.
The screams brought his next-door neighbour running wondering what horrible accident Ethan must have endured. She saw him rolling around on the ground. The screams had given way to moaning and he was in the foetal position on the grass when she reached him.
“My god, Ethan, what’s happening? Are you hurt?”
He opened his eyes and realized where he was. He felt foolish and was disinclined to explain. “Hey Marsha. I’m okay. I will be, anyway. Could I ask you a favour? Would you go inside and turn off the kettle for me?”
“Sure Ethan. Are you sure you’re all right? You were making a hell of a racket.”
“I’ll be all right. Please, just turn it off.”
She gave him a dubious look and went inside to do his bidding. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. The stabbing sensation had subsided but didn’t seem as if it would be gone anytime soon. He got up and walked into the house.
“Ethan, won’t you tell me what happened? Did you burn yourself or something?”
“No, nothing like that. Maybe just a bit of a panic attack or something. I’ll be fine. Thanks for coming over.”
He saw her shaking her head as she left. This couldn’t continue. He would have to hope the psychologist could shed some light for him.
Part 3 Tomorrow