The seeming reverb of tips of fingers folding paper. The scratching of unforgiving construction paper bowing to the force of the pinch and glide of finger tips along its length. I can’t imagine the sound of nails on a chalkboard, but I imagine it incites, excites, a similar feeling of dislike from those who hear it. But dislike leaves a strong impression. It is why I can still hear my elementary school art teacher systematically folding and stacking and tearing sheets of construction paper.
Paper is my ears’ first memory. Paper left a stronger impression on them than the leaping, sorrowful cries of Céline Dion in my mother’s car, or the ca-ching of the register in my father’s restaurant, or the Ya wanna go ta Bostin, ya wanna go ta Lynn, look out ‘ittle Maggie or ya gonna fall iiiiiiiiiin game my grandmother liked to play. The first time I was unsettled by the noise I don’t remember. But the first time I remember being unsettled by the noise, I had maybe four or five years’ experience hearing.
Before bed my mother was reading to me. It was a kid’s book, something short and easy, but with a good number of pages. And while she was reading to me I was listening not to her voice, but instead to the sounds of her licking her fingertip and sticking it to the top of the page, pulling it forward and turning with a flick of the wrist. It was irritating, somehow disturbing. When she stopped reading for the night she reached for the top corner of the page and gently folded it, dog-eared. Small imperfections in the paper that we can’t see made smaller waves of intensity in the sound of it folding.
Maggie is a graduate student in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State. She grew up on Pokémon, Poptarts, and My Little Pony, and hopes that both her food and entertainment palates have been refined since. Loves wine, whiskey, wum waisin ice cweam, and thinking she's funny.