Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Speaking Is Sometimes Scary

When it all gets out of control, you will sit in the dark on the sofa in the too-big bathroom, and you will wonder how it happened. You will retrace your steps, visualize the footprints retreating into the past, backing away from where you are now. You know it’s not a bad place. You know others would kill for this. But you can’t help but feel it’s snuck up on you somehow, that you’ve been caught in an ambush and you can’t even remember there being any cover from which to ambush you from.

Breathing helps. Deep breaths. You try to imagine the worst thing that could happen. This makes you feel better. You are pretty sure the likelihood of all your clothes disappearing from your body is fairly slim. But there is still the threat of silence. The havoc your voice can wreak on this whole thing is massive. Without even doing anything. All your voice has to do is nothing, and it will be a disaster. It’s this disaster that scares you the most.

You will be kind to your voice for the next few weeks. You will let it say what it wants, whenever it wants. If it wants to sing in the shower, it can. It doesn’t matter that your housemates are waiting at the door, sleepy-eyed, bathrobed. And when you walk past them, hair dripping, you will just shrug at their raised eyebrows; your voice will not explain a thing. And on the bus, your voice will mumble at the window, it will replay conversations, inserting words that should’ve been said at the time. You will pretend you don’t notice the stares of the other passengers. You will not bite your tongue.

After a while, this incessant speaking will be second nature to you. You will strike up conversations in the unlikeliest of places: in public toilets, at the chemist, in the “feminine hygiene” aisles of supermarkets. You won’t be able to help yourself. Words will be dripping from your mouth without thought, without relent. And then, when finally it’s your turn to stand under the spotlights, it will be a relief to be there solely for the purpose of speaking. It will feel like it’s the one thing you were born to do. And every atom of you will be pure joy.

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