I will speak to you in another’s voice. Because I fear you will miss my meaning if I speak in mine. Individual stories are anecdotes, representative stories are easier to bear as half-truth.
“I am afraid to speak.
Because I am afraid to speak, I speak all the time, cloaking and filling that central darkness that could be the productive void but is merely soul-chilling frightening emptiness.
Because I must not speak I catch hold of people and talk, and ask and laugh and am merry. It is proof that I can speak, this babble.
Because I am told I cannot speak, I speak in secret, in allusions and circumlocutions that baffle people and secretly amuse me. If I do not speak so that they listen, then I have not spoken at all.
Because I am afraid to speak, I do not say what I mean. If I do not say it, can they ever catch me?
Because I am told I cannot speak I turn inward and tell myself I cannot, should not, could not, must not. I become two people, one dumb child and one scolding authoritative woman. Neither turns to the world, the world looks in through her eyes.
I must not speak. Instead I do. I work, I act, I have done to me. I build, card-towers of actions, proof of silent concentration, evidence of the inutility of the solitary imagination. I prove, with every gesture, that I accept I cannot speak. And I half-learn to wait, until I can be told that I can.
But I cannot commit, cannot vow, cannot prove my allegiance to non-speaking. In a way, this is going on. For if I was bade to speak, I might speak and be silenced forever.
There is only one authority, one judgment, one chance. I would rather not have it. So I am afraid to speak.”