I'd actually written the story in both past and present tense. I'd read it out loud several times, and then gone with the version that sounded best; the tense that I felt most suited the story, my main character, and the words I'd used.
You're probably wondering how tense can affect sound/rhythm. Well, it's the difference between 'bells ringing out' and 'bells rang out' - the tense fundamentally changes the sound of a sentence. In short stories especially, it's a difference that's worth considering.
Which got me thinking. Just how much does writing rely on rhythm?
In my case, the answer is: a LOT.
I actually write to music, and it's important that it's the right music. There's no way that I'd listen to something dramatic, full of brass and drums, if I was writing a story about love, fond memories or quiet introspection, and I wouldn't listen to a gentle, flowing piece of music, with lots of soothing piano and strings, if I was writing an action scene. If what I'm listening to isn't right, the words won't come. In fact, I'd rather write to no music at all, than the wrong music.
I also do a lot of reading out loud. I use this technique to not only help me pick up on any mistakes I've made, but also to check that the wording I've selected delivers on the emotion, atmosphere and pacing I'm after.
In other words: I'm checking the rhythm of my writing. If it doesn't sound right as the spoken word, it's not right as the written word.
For example: Action scenes and high-tension passages have short/sharp sentences and a punchier choice of wording. Meandering, poetic prose won't give the reader the thrill they expect.
To my mind, the length of sentences, word choices and tense can be every bit as important as plot line, scene setting and characters - they're the back-ground structure that holds together the story you want to tell.
Does writing rely on rhythm? You bet it does...