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Sometimes, it happens.
Your voice, you see, it disappears. No warning, no explanation.
Vanished. Absent. Lost.
I say ‘you’ when I should be saying ‘I’. I know this. I know futility. I know I am really asking: if I tell this story differently, will I bring my voice back?
No, I suppose. (I am nothing if not pragmatic.)
Well, sometime, it happened- to me- sometime last year- after June.
A portrait: birthdays in June, a voice in my throat, swollen, a jewel.
I sing on my birthday.
A portrait: laughter high and free, song breathing through candlelight and cake, a voice shaping into my lips and I don’t know what to do with my hands and so I sing. In my mouth, the word ‘you’ changes to ‘me’ and the line: happy birthday to me is so ridiculous, we burst out laughing instead.
This is how it was. This is how we were.
There are questions here, of course.
When, you ask? When. Wait. (I will say ‘give me a moment’ and we can pretend that we are in control and time is yours to give and mine to take.) Give me a moment.
June. After June. Here is a something solid. Concrete. A mark, crossed out on some map, do not forget, this will not pass. I latch onto this, the way thirst latches onto water. June.
Has it been a year now?
A year. Twelve months. Three sixty five (six? no, five) days.
Time is a funny thing, you see. What was, was. What was, was, like it has been forever.
I remember this birthday and in a flash, all birthdays before this blur at the edges and become one.
The past, a single staircase spiraling out behind you. The past, in singular only. Like starlight. Like starlight, it flickers away when our eyes land straight, so we can only think of the past obliquely, in our dreams, in our subconscious, surfacing like lost stories from the ether. We were never built to think in time.
So a year then? Futility.
My heart tells me I have been voiceless forever and yesterday.
Forever and yesterday, the end feels so far behind, I imagine I am yet to cross it.
And what is immortality if not a distortion of time?
There. I am immortal. Say it out loud, and let it hang itself against the doors, the silverware, the desk, like cobwebs, I am immortal. (Isn’t this what you wanted?)
There’s the word.
I like the word ‘lost’ better: to declare something lost implies it can be found. But no. My voice went, is gone, like an hour. You do not lose the hour, it simply goes on, it passes, it passes away, and it leaves you behind. You do not lose the hours, they lose you. And an hour passed cannot be found.
I am stoic.
I recite these facts as if they are not attached to me. As if we are simply brushing against each other the way the stars brush against the Earth every so often.
I replace pronouns when you are not looking (see what I have done?) so I can pretend I am not the subject of this case.
I am an illness pinned by its name. Caged. Desperate. I dissociate: I say ‘sad’ instead of ‘depressed’, ‘lost control’ instead of ‘breakdown’.
We invented these words for this. So we can pretend we are alright, that we are not cracking at the seams, tearing apart the way the skin at the edge of your lips would rip if you force your mouth open too wide (and wouldn’t that be a terrible way to die?).
How, you asked?
Oh, are we still talking about my voice now?
So we are.
Here is your how: the night was boneless and my last words were not stay or don’t leave, but please and then: I’m sorry and the stars trembled in a distance as if they were not solid at all but liquid gold, dripping onto my skin, but not burning, no, never burning, because this is only a reconstruction and didn’t you know that?
I must apologize; I do not have a how. Or a when or a where or, have mercy, a why.
In fact, I do not have a story at all. I do not have a voice, and for all I know, I might have never had a voice.
Yes, this is right.
I might have never had a voice.
In my mouth, the word ‘I’ changes to ‘you’ and I write this knowing that I do not exist, that I am a fabrication of my own mind, but does my mind even exist if I do not?, there- I have dissociated again, and my mind and I are just stars that kiss this Earth every so once in a time.