There once was a boy whose parents found themselves in quite a predicament. You see, when the boy was born, he was born healthy. He had all ten fingers, and all ten toes. His heart beat the way it should, in fact all of his organs did their respective jobs quite well (though, he would grow to have bad knees). However, despite the appearance that this was a rather normal, fully functioning young lad, there was something his parents would find quite peculiar about their baby boy.
He didn't speak.
Now of course, this went unnoticed for sometime, as most babies do not have expansive vocabularies. But, when the days passed and turned into months without a coo or cry, his parents grew very concerned. Had they done something wrong? They asked. Was the baby okay? They pleaded. The doctors ran all of their usual tests, opened his mouth and peered inside with a light, took his temperature beneath his tongue, and even bounced a tiny hammer against his knee for good measure. Of course, the baby is okay; he is simply a quiet baby.
This was not a suitable answer for the young boy’s parents, as all too often parents want something easy and requiring as little work as possible. After all, they are very tired people, you know. So, they took their baby home and developed a plan. They would trick him into speaking. They tried a great number of methods. Tickling him only resulted in a blank smile, scaring him only resulted in a little jump, and poking him only caused gas. As their numerous attempts continued to fail, their frustrations built until they did what most parents resort to when they have a “difficult” child. They yelled.
At first, they convinced themselves that they were simply showing him how it was he was supposed to speak. They were imitating the human language at a louder volume so that he could more easily understand. But soon, it became bitter and angry without excuse. Why had they been given this child that so refused to speak? Why couldn’t he just be like the other children? Why wasn’t he normal? All silly questions really, and if they had bothered to sit with him for a moment, they would have seen the answer.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to speak, it wasn’t that he refused. He knew a great many words, and even more, he knew how to string them together to create wonderful and fantastic sentences. No, it was more complex than that, and altogether much more simple. When the boy tried to speak, he found himself lost in his thoughts. All of a sudden, they would become a jumbled sea full of crashing waves that would descend upon him, overwhelming his senses and leaving him adrift. Drowning in his words and fighting for air, he was rendered unable to say anything at all.
But, he learned how to speak in his own way, through his actions. When he was hungry, he would bring his mother to the kitchen; when he was sad, he would cry; and when he sought to show love he would do so through gifts and kindness. This silent language he had made would get him through most of his life. Yes, everything was fine and dandy, until he met a girl who couldn’t see.
Though, it wasn’t exactly that she couldn’t see, no that’s not very accurate at all. If anything, she saw too much, and therefore was unable to discern anything but blobs of color and vague shapes. You see, the girl who could not see had been born with a similar plight to the young boy, only it was her parents who had stripped her senses. They had shown her apples and said they were oranges, given her hate and told her it was love. She had grown up seeing the world for what it was only to be misled into thinking she was blind, and after some time, she grew to believe it. She no longer trusted her eyes to guide her, but instead listened for where she should go and what she could do. She stumbled from time to time, but mostly she made her way, until she met a boy who couldn’t speak.
Who knows truly how or why we meet one another. Is it cosmic? Some fated destination, or is it by chance happenstance? Whatever the case may be, the boy and the girl met. It was he who saw her first, which all things considered made sense. But how could he say hello? She could not see him wave, or smile, or dance. No instead, she moved about aimlessly, waiting for someone to speak. Wherever he stood, she seemed to move around him. An unfortunate ballet, full of clumsy dancers.
Exhausted by his efforts, the boy reached toward her and cried out. A small whine, like that of an offended puppy. The girl did not recognize the sound, it was softer than others she had known, deeper than others she had heard before. She waited for it again, but the boy, lost in himself, couldn’t bear to make it again. Instead, he held her face in his hands, brushing the soft of his thumb against her cheek. The girl thought she knew this feeling; she recognized it as love, being so intimate and tender. So, she spoke.
She called out looking for a response, rambling over herself as she followed his hands. Her words were loud and jumbled; full of conviction and feeling, they were frightening. Her voice was a speedboat trying to navigate the ocean of his mind, but navigation in a storm can be impossible without a map. Soon, she became lost, convinced she had heard something that was never there. An echo of her own voice she had made to resemble a man. She accepted her loss, and sat lonely on a stoop waiting to hear a whine, something to reassure her that what she had felt had been real and not some silly illusion. The boy sat down beside her and watched her deflate, shameful of his inability to simply announce that he was there, trapped adrift in his own mind.
Is it better to be alone? They thought. To give up on hardship and love in the pursuit of safety and ease? Or is it better to try, knowing you may fail? She could learn to squint, to recognize his face and his form, to trust her eyes and her heart. He could learn to speak, to brave the heavy tides in his mind.
They would stumble, and they would fall, surely. But they would do so, together.
About the Creator
I like to put pieces of myself into my writing. Sometimes it's a finger, sometimes a toe, but it's always something that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth and leaves a lingering feel in your gut.