It took him a long time, a long long time (subjectively, as he had no technical means of measuring duration, and had not determined a way to objectify its sense, understanding in theory the Indonesian concept of Djam Karet: “elastic time” or, less poetically but perhaps more definitive, “tachypsychia”) to accept withnonchalance that he might never capture a fixed image of Aggie in his imagination. And with fairly rapid diminution succeeding acceptance the notion of picturing her in his mind ultimately and with virtually no whoop di do relinquished any purchase whatsoever on his conscious agenda. Somewhere in this deconstruction of expectations his aural faculty started transmogrifying.
Deaf. This is what first came to mind. I've gone deaf. It came near the end of an extended silence, a blessed silence at the outset. But when it stretched beyond the ordinary gaps in vocal communication, when it reached into conscious apprehension of the tinnitus that had rasped interminably for as long as he could remember but which normally submitted to distractions of the meanest sort, when now the rasping dominated completely, smothering whatever words emitted palpably from his larynx, words he felt with his tongue and lips that had to be responding to something most likely uttered by the current shrink but which he evidently had not received aurally, he suspected he'd gone deaf in a way undoubtedly unique in whatever annals were kept for hinky shit of this nature. He puzzled over what he seemed to be saying in reply.
This puzzlement found no relief. None, despite many repetitions of the apparent tacit communication. He was settling in to deeming it merely one more mystery of life (sans the “ah, sweet”) when a sound made it through the febrile wall of noise with such piquancy it evoked a tear from his left eye (the one that routinely moistened with little warning or rationale except predictably in changes of exterior temperature).
It was a musical sound. A small, lyrical, artfully rendered, wistful, frolicky tone. The sound of Aggie humming.