The New Orleans Writing Marathon is doing an exercise called “Free Write Fridays.” They post a prompt, and you write for ten minutes straight.
I did not participate in the marathon, but did do the weekly writing prompts on their Facebook page. This is the third one. The prompt was “Speak.”
© Copyright 2014 by Sara Jacobelli
She doesn’t remember when she decided to stop speaking. Maybe it was the night they had the Big Fight and the cops came, her mom was all beat up and bloody and her father calmed down and talked to the cops. “You know how it is,” he said. “You know how women are.” And he laughed and the cops laughed and they were friends huddled together, huddled like men on the football field, and her mom sat with her head on the kitchen table, not making any noise at all.
So she just quit talking, quit talking at home and at school too, and in the neighborhood, out in the street. She didn’t say anything when called on in class, but she would make gestures with her hands, she’d make faces, she’d write down her answers and she’d draw cartoons. At after school kickball games, she’d use hand gestures, and when she went to the corner grocery she wrote everything down and handed the note and the money to Margie at the cash register.
After a while people quit commenting about it. They quit asking, although sometimes her teacher would look at her strangely. Once her father got mad at her about not talking, and he hit her, hard, but she still wouldn’t speak and even he gave up. “Kid’s weird,” he mumbled.
She felt not speaking was a victory, a tiny victory, that she held close to her. No one knew that sometimes, at night, when he was asleep, she’d whisper to her little brother. “Don’t be afraid, Angelo.” He almost seemed like her heard her, he’d roll over and smile.
They kept fighting, so her protest didn’t really do any good. They kept yelling and screaming at each other, her mom would throw things and break dishes and cut up his ties. It always ended with her father savagely beating up her mom. The neighbors got used to it, they either stopped calling the cops, or the cops just quit bothering to come. When the phone rang, she’d run to pick it up, then hand it to someone else. In her own mind, her and her brother lived far away, on a farm, with horses and cows and chickens and sheep, with tons of other kids and no parents, the Wizard of Oz with no tornadoes. There was something special and magical about this world she created, this world inside of her own head.
Photo Credit: “Silence.” Pixabay Copyright free images. CC NonCommercial ShareAlike.