Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Voicebox Key

I remember distinctly the day I came to this place; I can still see the rainbows shooting about my bedroom, the sun sparkling through my window hung prism, its kaleidoscope switched on and off by a nearby curtain of oak leaves fluttering in the summer wind. I remember my parents shouting at each other, for hours it seemed; threatening to kill one another again and again and each time carving another piece of my heart from my young breast. I remember my sisters crying loudly enough to be heard through the pillows that covered their heads, through the sheet rock walls and open stairwell that separated our rooms.

Though I can't answer why I was silly enough to believe my plea would have any effect other than it did, I do recall my standing at the head of the stairs and shouting down in my best grown up voice "You guys just shuttup now! Damn you, just stop it!" And then I was screaming "stop it!" over and over as if my brain had caught on a nail and I couldn't step past that phrase without tearing my psychological fabric to shreds.

I heard the footsteps long before I was overcome by fear. Had that not been the case I'd never have made it back to my room and slipped under the covers; like there was a chance the encroaching judge wouldn't know who had yelled and in the interest of justice, would let the crime go unpunished. Of course, he did know; I was the family bigmouth, and it was only a few minutes before his shadow darkened my room and his booming, caustic voice stripped the green plaid paper right off the walls.

I'm not sure what he said, that part's a bit of a haze at this point though I can still hear its tone as vulgar and physically threatening. But I know for certain it was the 19 inch television he was holding over his head, the black and white portable that had made its way into my room as a reward for good grades, being transformed into a boulder by the family elder giant. And in that split second I made a vow; that if I lived through this event I would never again speak.

I may not be much, but I am a man of my word. It wasn't easy at first, there were plenty of people who taunted me and tried manipulating syllables from my lips. Matt Leonard actually knocked me to the ground and with his fingers hooked into my mouth, made my face his personal puppet while his friends watched me call myself a moron in Matt's ventriloquist voice. But that incident, and a few others only helped convince me I was on the right track, that saying nothing ever again was the right thing to do; the only thing to do. Speaking had only caused me pain, and while not speaking was painful for a time, I had hope that would change soon enough.

It did, decades ago now. Somewhere down that road I'd reconsidered, but found myself unable, as if I'd forgotten which synapses, which muscles, which links to make, switches to throw. I'd spilled hot water on myself at one point, scalding water that required a short hospitalization, yet I didn't scream in spite of my going through the motions. I didn't, couldn't make a sound. So now it seems I am trapped within this body. And though I'd love to blame my father and the circumstance of a moment's rage, the truth is I brought myself here and became comfortable in the grip of silence. I am mute by my own hand and may never find the key with which to unlock my rumble and hiss. Luckily I have little to say that matters. Only this really. Only this.

1 comment: