The Key

The Art of Listening

The Key

The key is to listen.


The waves beat against the cliffs, lazily, languidly. Seaweed froth dries under the pale pink sun, popping and fizzing. Seagulls take flight, their wings stirring up the briny air.

Somewhere behind, a town awakens, its slanted streets slowly filling with morning light.

Blades of grass whisper as the sea breeze weaves its way through their ranks.

A girl leans back, listening to her hat flutter away. Giving chase is meaningless. She’d never catch it.

Her eyelashes brush her cheeks. She inhales but her breaths don’t find a place in the harmony of sounds.

Footsteps cut through the field, metal clinking. It sounds like star speech.  

“You weren’t at breakfast,” Monsieur Gaate says, settling down next to her.

The giant feline’s made of ten thousand cogs, tension strings, and brass plates, though he feels very much alive, especially in his paisley vest and velvet trimmed top-hat.

“I gather you’ve made your choice,” he says, watching colossal armed dirigibles float over the ocean.

The Queen had ordered her to make war automatons. What choice was there?

“We are to fight then.”


Then she sees her pastel coral hat land on the tracks in the distance.

“But maybe not,” she says, struck with an idea. “Close your eyes.”

He does.

“Do you hear that?”

A train whistles into the station.

“If we get on it tonight,” she says, “we can escape.”

Monsieur Gaate smiles, eyes still closed. “All of us?”

She nods, determined. “All of us.”