SONG OF THE DISTANT – An Ocean Story

My story, which competed in the 11th Short Story Competition in Yerli Bilimkurgu Yükseliyor and appeared in the 53rd issue of YBKY magazine, is with you! Thanks to Enes Talha Coşgun for the translation.

We were a nameless group of friends. There were twelve of us. We were all young and full of curiosity. In order to satisfy this curiosity and find answers to our questions, we left our families and took refuge in nature, away from civilization. We were observing other creatures, trying to understand their behavior patterns, and then consolidating our knowledge by discussing. We were walking unassumingly into wisdom, our only goal was to grasp the universe in a pure way. 

Our experience was also teaching us to learn. Over time, we realized that we needed to narrow our research scope a little more. Because there were countless areas of knowledge in the universe. The movement of objects, the composition of objects, the concept of vitality, the anatomy, behaviors, living spaces of living things… Each one would require years of work just for itself. And one night we decided to get together and pick one topic.

There was an intuitive bond between close friends that is difficult to explain. They could tell what each other was thinking by their facial expressions, their tone of voice, their little details. When we met that night, we all knew that almost everyone had the same desire in their hearts. 

One of us uttered this desire, “The ocean!” he said. “Isn’t the ocean a mystery waiting to be solved? There’s a whole other world out there we don’t know about. If there’s one thing we’re satisfied with, it’s hidden deep in the ocean. The treasure we seek is buried there. Whatever we do, we must find a way to dive into the ocean.”

We had no fund except our minds and our hearts. We didn’t have special clothes or tubes to dive into the ocean. So I was a little desperate. The talking friend turned to me, “Why?” he asked. “Why don’t you want to explore the ocean?” 

Whereas I didn’t even open my mouth. He understood from my stance that I was not interested in the ocean. He exhaled loudly through his nose. “Of course, why would you explore the ocean when you have your mute man, right?”

“Song of the Distant,” I corrected. 

That was a strange, middle-aged man we were talking about. For as long as I can remember, he never spoke to anyone or joined society. All he did was exist in a reclusively way. He used to open his mouth as if he were singing and wander around quietly. My desire to unravel his mystery has been burning inside me for as long as I can remember. What’s he thinking? What’s on his mind? Why can’t he talk?

I’d like to talk to him. With our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and gazes… I would like to say, “Tell me. What have you been through?”

I was the one who named him Song of The Distant. He stood and acted so thoughtfully that I was sure he heard songs from realms we didn’t know about. 

“Okay, but…” said another friend. “That man doesn’t talk to anyone. The most he can do is look at the people’s faces and walk away. There’s nothing you can do.”

I closed my eyes with sadness. If I close my eyes halfway, it would mean joy, greeting or love, and if I close it completely, it would mean grief and desire to be alone.

“Come back anytime, watch Song of the Distant. He lives around here anyway. Like us, out of society. But don’t miss our ocean exploration, come with us.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Free diving!”

“Are you serious?” I laughed. “You’re going to dive into that endless depth of the ocean without tools and explore?”

My friends were quiet. I realized that my laughter was inappropriate and untimely, and I silenced with shame.

“If we don’t show courage and take that one step…” said one of the friends, “We won’t even be able to look at it from a shallow level. You’re brave enough to follow a stranger man and give him a nickname. Be brave enough to explore separate worlds.”

I turned my eyes away, but I couldn’t find anything to say. I was convinced. 

The next morning, we got up early and approached the border between our world and the ocean. Our hearts were racing. We had all our glowing eyes. I was just trying to collect some of the information in my memory. I heard something once: Just as there are lakes, volcanoes and gardens around here, there are also lakes and gardens behind the ocean. There are even better ones. Mountains, islands, pits, hills… Among the accumulated knowledge of our civilization about the orbicular globe which we belong, there were not so much about the oceans. We’ve discovered a very few of things about these light blue realms. 

My excitement was increasing. Just like the ambient temperature rises as we approach the equator in winter. First we looked at each other, then we dived into the sea. When I blinked and opened my eyes, I almost screamed for joy.

“Insects! Insects!” we chirped.

They were one of the countless species that we knew lived in the ocean. The realization of small moving creatures lived in the ocean, which we thought was a vast blueness, was a turning point for our mental world and had radically changed our perception of the universe. 

We knew bugs could be harmful. In fact, they attacked and killed some of our people and lured them to their homes. So at the slightest sign of danger, we were on our guard to get back to the place where we came from.

We were looking at pieces of wood that the insects used to stay in contact with the border with admiration as the light from the ocean lit up the place piece by piece. They must have been making these boards out of the woods growing up in the air ocean. Meanwhile, I felt a cold breeze on my skin. When I turned around, I saw a pair of eyes looking at me. The Song of the Distant was here.

I greeted him by closing my eyes gently. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but remained silent. Meanwhile, a mechanical and scrawny sound spread through the water.

“This is a message of people to whales. 

Finally, we have loosened your tongue. We understand with amazement that you have a society and a civilization as advanced as ours. 

We’re human. We live out of the water and above the land. We apologize for our species’ predatory activities against your species. We want to be friends with you. By exchanging information, we can achieve prosperity as creatures worthy of our planet. 

Lastly, we would like to thank one of your kind. Our research on him has guided us in our explorations. We call him 52 Hertz. He sings on a frequency none of you can hear.”

The message is over. My friends started to murmuring in amazement. The device which is translating the language of the bugs or “the humans” as they call themselves to our language was still open and its voices were still heard. I’ve been listening to them.

They were talking about the content of our songs. We used to sing to emigrate, to communicate. But we learned that 52 Hertz sings the songs about the beauty of nature and the ocean admirably. The humans call it art. An expression of pure beauty. 

When I heard that, I turned my head to Song of the Distant. He closed his eyes slightly.

“The 52-hertz whale, colloquially referred to as 52 Blue, is an individual whale of unidentified species that calls at the unusual frequency of 52 hertz. This pitch is at a higher frequency than that of the other whale species with migration patterns most closely resembling the 52-hertz whale’s – the blue whale (10 to 39 Hz) and the fin whale (20 Hz). Its call has been detected regularly in many locations since the late 1980s, and appears to be the only individual emitting a whale call at this frequency. However, the whale itself has never been sighted; it has only been heard via hydrophones. It has been described as the “world’s loneliest whale”, though potential recordings of a second 52-hertz whale, heard elsewhere at the same time, have been sporadically found since 2010.” — Wikipedia

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