Last night I had a dream in which my job was to sort and pack for storage, the notes of forgotten songs. I worked in a small shed, with shelves that were lined with large storage bins. There was a long workbench on one wall and only one door. There were no windows.
Each morning I would go to the shed and unlock the door. It was always very early as I remember dew and then frost on the grass, and long low shadows form the morning sun. I'd step inside and I would wait. Soon after I'd hear the crunch of gravel beneath the tires of the delivery man's truck. I'd hear him open his door and step out of the truck onto the driveway followed by the sound of the delivery van door sliding open. His footsteps would approach and then I'd see him silhouetted against the sun as he stepped into the doorway. We'd exchange pleasantries, I'd sign for the delivery and he'd hand me one plain white number 10 envelope.
I'd wait until he'd gone before opening the envelope. As soon as I did music would being to pour out of it. One song at a time I'd hear the last time a piece of music had been played, or sung. Sometimes it was entire orchestras playing complex symphonies but more often then not it was a single voice humming absentmindedly. I wondered if the owners of the humming voices ever knew that that they were sharing this song for the very last time.
As each note sounded out into the air it would solidify into a tiny colored bead and fall into my open palm; a forever frozen musical vibration. One by one I packed them away into tiny padded boxes, like those that expensive jewelry come in. Each box uniformly gray, and once closed, utterly unremarkable. They were packed by the hundreds into large plastic bins. Note after note, song after song.
At the end of the day, when the last song had sounded, I'd write the date on the outside of the envelope and file it away in a cabinet full of thousands of other envelopes. I'd turn off the single light in the shed, padlock the door and go back into the house to make dinner.
I didn't know what became of the notes after I packed them away. I knew I was not the only person doing this. There were many of us around the world who did this day after day. Even so, I knew that the shed was not large enough to possibly hold all of the forgotten songs I'd stashed away over the years. There was some mysterious process that I never witnessed in which they were carried away to their final destination. I imagined some immense Indiana Jones type gigantic warehouse with sky high shelves full of stacked bins filled with an infinite number of little gray boxes, each holding a tiny gleaming and silent note.