Here's a little piece of flash fiction for the Giving Voice Blogfest, hosted by Madeleine Maddocks. I decided I wanted to portray the pain of a young person who is already going through one of the most confusing times of her life. Her difficulty with speech magnifies her pain and confusion.
I'm calling it: "Hear Me."
* * * * *
“Oh look! It’s A . . .an. . .an. . .a . . . anna!”
Anna looked up to see Derek and Brendan. Derek was the tallest guy in the seventh grade. His speech, though forcefully broken, sounded perfectly clear. He thought he was hilarious, but he never struggled to communicate. His classmates, thinking he was funny and charming, loved him.
Anger boiled inside her. She gripped her faded jeans with both hands, ignoring the pain of her fingernails digging into her flesh. The cool stone of the squat fence on which she sat soaked through the thin denim. Her eyes briefly flitted over to Brendan, who stood by quietly, strategically looking at some indistinguishable point in the distance.
“Do you want to say something?” Derek prodded. His brown eyes were wide as he challenged her. “Come on. Just spit it out. I have a couple of hours to kill.”
There were a lot of things Anna wished she could tell him. There were a lot of things she wanted to tell Brendan too, but she didn’t dare. Her words would only come out twisted, and the brokenness of her heartfelt words would only be turned against her. Tears filled her eyes.
“What’s wrong? Did your speech therapist get tired of waiting for you to finish a sentence?”
That would never happen. Anna found some small comfort in that. She slowly slid her hand up a couple of inches until she felt the reassuring rectangle of her little notepad. There was one thing, other than Dr. Frost, that she could count on. When she needed to get it all out, writing it down was the one foolproof outlet she had.
“Come on, we need to get going,” Brendan said. “Stew’s waiting.” His eyes awkwardly danced away from hers.
When Anna was alone again, she pulled out the little book and opened it to her favorite page. She remembered the day when she was sitting in an empty classroom. She was writing this poem.
Could you hear me?
The sounds in my heart
spill into the world
out of control.
Can you learn to understand
Brendan came in to grab something, and noticing her there, he leaned over her shoulder. She froze, expecting the worst. Instead, he took her pencil and wrote in the margin.
“This is pretty. People don’t always hear me either.”