Voiceless

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“Hello,” I croaked. I knew that the person on the other line could barely hear me, and I wondered why I’d bothered to answer the phone at all. Too late now.

“Uh…is Philip Myton there?” said the receptionist from the clinic my husband uses.

“No, he’s not.” I breathed more than spoke those words.

I then explained that I had laryngitis in as few words as possible. The lady seemed relieved to know, and I tried to imagine what she had thought when she first heard me. From her reaction, I thought I must have sounded like a phone call from a dead relative I remember in the spooky stories my friends told at sleep overs.

Laryngitis came on this week in the middle of my morning class on Tuesday. I croaked when I could make a noise at all. The phone call came at a time when I had rested my voice for many hours so the receptionist could hear me.

Watching people react to me reminded me of staying in Germany for a time. I looked like the Germans all around me so no one treated me differently until I opened my mouth and they heard my accented German. One man on the street asked me directions and his face changed completely when I told him I was new to town.

But at least in Germany they knew I was only foreign. When I used my froggy voice this week,  everyone stepped back a few paces, not wanting to catch whatever it was I had. I don’t really blame them, but it felt strange.

Trying not to talk while communicating with my family also proved a major challenge even though they were used to my call from the dead sound.

When I was younger, I thought about what it would be like to lose my hearing or my sight and asked myself which would be worse. But I never considered how vital my voice is.

As I thought about my froggy voice this week, I remembered my writing. When the words work, it feels like a have a voice. Like what I am trying to say moves across the page and into the minds of my readers. When those words don’t work, I am croaking and people look at me (in my mind’s eye) like I have laryngitis.

I got over the physical laryngitis this week. I’m hoping to kick my writing voice laryngitis to the curb, too.

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