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The Speech from Hell

I stare out at the audience. My audience. Boys and girls and men and women stare back. Everyone is silent. They want to hear what I have to say. I take a deep breath…and begin.

“Hello. My name is Audris. I am 17 years old. When I was 15 years old, I was in an ice-fishing accident. I was dead for one hour. That one hour changed my life. During that hour, I was in H*ll. Quite literally.

It did not feel like H*ll. Not in the least bit. It must have been known that I wasn’t going to stay. But there was a man, sitting in a wooden chair in an otherwise empty red room. The man was old. His face was wrinkled, and his hair was white. But he was so very kind. He told me in a strong, yet gentle voice to stand in front of him. I did.

He began talking. ‘You might be wondering why you are here in H*ll,’ he had said.

I had nodded, nearly numb with shock, and he continued.

‘You have not done any one big thing to get here. You have done thousands of little things. Every comment you make, every mean look you point towards someone, every rude gesture—it leaves a mark. And each of those things adds up quickly. If you say something mean three times a day, in a year you’ve marked someone, hurt someone, 1095 times. In five years, you’ve hurt someone 5475 times. Think about that. Think about how if someone said something mean to you, if it was all put on you, three times a day, for five years, how it would affect you. It would begin to get to you. Would it not?’

Right at that moment…I thought he was wrong. I’d shook my head at the man.

And so he continued: ‘You have a big nose. You’re overweight. You’re shirt is just plain ugly.’

I was hurt.

‘That was three insults,’ he informed me. ‘Imagine receiving comments like that every day.’

That’s when I’d understood.

‘Although,’ he continued. ‘You could give three compliments per day.’

I was silent.

‘You’re beautiful, you’re intelligent, and I love your glasses.’ He didn’t wait for my reply. ‘See? Doesn’t that make you feel much better?’

I nodded, and the old man had smiled at me.”

I look up at the audience, and take another deep breath.

“Thank you.”



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