'The Sound Mirrors' by Charlotte Buchanan
Three huge concrete structures face the sea. One like a wall, one round and one like a fingernail, pointing heavenwards in apocalyptic warning. They are the Kent coast’s sound mirrors, the “Listening Ears.” Once, precision-installed microphones recorded the sound of approaching enemy aircraft as it reflected off smooth, blank faces. Then radar was invented and the sound mirrors were silent. Still they sit there: sinister, redundant, listening, voiceless.
“No! That big bare wall? No way. Give me the creeps. Makes me feel...” She shuddered.
“Come on. It’s only a sound mirror.”
“What’s that, then?”
“One of those.”
He smiled. “All right.” He explained and she smiled too. Then she kissed him, just for knowing everything. He kissed her back, for knowing absolutely nothing (something he’d yet to admit). They’d met at the youth hostel . Yesterday, he’d taken her out to the local pub; today, they were out exploring. Now he grabbed her and steered her backwards against the concrete face of the sound mirror.
“What’re you doing?!” she whispered.
“No need to whisper – there’s no one here but us.”
“Yeah, but won’t the sound mirror...”
“It won’t echo our passion out across the Channel, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he said, slightly scornfully.
She grabbed him by the wrist, arresting his wandering hand. “Let’s go back.”
“Come on. Don’t be a spoilsport. Think about it. You’d have to put a microphone all the way over there...”
“They’re...they’re sound mirrors, Chris. Every...gasp, every...you know.” She paused. “Don’t you?”
“No. I don’t know. Look, it’s impossible for them to reflect the sound without proper amplification; they’ve been defunct for years. Can’t you just relax a bit?”
“Forget it. I’m going back.” She ran a hand through her hair, looking at him hard, then walked off.
He was bewildered. Stupid girl. She hadn’t been listening at all. Couldn’t understand how a sound mirror worked; gone off in a huff. And she’d been up for it when they’d left the hostel, he was sure of it. He stamped off after her.
But the sound mirrors understood. After all, why shouldn’t they hear sounds even if no microphones were there to record them?