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A World of Voices

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I met her my freshman year. Something about her made me gravitate to her, and I still can't tell you what it was. She wasn't what you would call pretty. She wasn't ugly, just not pretty. She was average: average height, average build, average name. Nothing about her was out of the ordinary or all that spectacular.

Yet somehow I was attracted to her, and before long, somehow, we became the best of friends. I can honestly say I haven't the slightest idea of how we became friends, seeing as how, the only unique thing about her, she never once spoke to me. She never once spoke to anyone, actually. But somehow I knew, we were best friends, and we always would be.

Maybe it was the way she looked at me when I spoke, her average eyes watching, her whole body tense, drinking in every word uttered from my lips and yet never once uttering one word from her average lips. I don't know how became friends, but I knew we were.

It was an odd friendship, to say the least. No senseless chatter filled the living room, nor any days spent playing mindless video games or watching mindless television; instead, our time spent together was spent in silence. I never quite understood why we never talked, but I never once questioned her; Instead, I sat there, simply enjoying her company. Every once in a while I would tell her a little about my day, pretending she didn't already know, but she always did.

Yet no matter how many times she would hear the same story told over, again and again, she would watch and listen as if it was the most fascinating story she had ever heard. Each time I spoke, she would listen, and I mean truly listen. When I spoke, she had only one thing on her mind: my words.

I always found this odd about her. She could sit and listen to me chatter on for hours and never once lose that fascinated gleam in her eyes and never once become bored. She would make me feel as if I was the most important person in the entire world. Although maybe, to her, I was.

***

Our senior year had come and gone in the blink of an eye. Four years she and I had been friends and I had never once heard the sound of her voice. It may have seemed odd to some that our friendship was what it was, but I had grown quite accustomed to the silence.

Or so I had thought, until summer vacation of that year came about and my family and I took a trip and I spent my many hours and many days speaking and being spoken to. It was then that I realized just how deprived of human communication I had been with her.

When I returned from my trip and returned to normality with her and our silent days together, I realized that, in just a short amount of time, I had changed greatly. I was no longer content with the days spent simply sitting on the couch, silently; I no longer hungered for that fascinated gleam in her eyes that appeared whenever I spoke; I was no longer fascinated with her silent nature.

I wanted more.

***

One evening, mere days before I would be leaving for college, she brought me out into her backyard. Something was different about her countenance, or maybe it was just the fact that I had changed.

She sat herself next to a large oak, and beside her, I sat, caught up in my own thoughts of self-pity. So caught up I was that I hardly noticed that, for the first time in the many years I had known her, she looked at me without my having spoken first. A few moments of her average eyes boring into what felt like my soul passed and I turned to meet her gaze. For a split second I believed she might utter a word; but I was left wanting when she simply raised her eyebrows in a silent question.

I sighed, turning back to the night sky, as did she, returning to gaze up into the stars. Moments, minutes, hours passed in a dreadful silence. My own self-pity and greed for human conversation grew within my heart as the silence grew louder and longer and longer until I could no more stand it.

"If you don't speak to me for the rest of your life," I began, finally, "Answer me this one question: Why don't you talk? I know you can, but you choose not to. Why is that?"

I watched her face, awaiting some change in her countenance that would show me she had heard. No change came. I shook my head in utter disgust, as I raised myself to my feet, planning to walk away from the one I thought to be my best friend and never look back.

But I stopped dead in my tracks, frozen by the sound of a voice I had never before that moment heard.

She began quietly, growing louder only as she became more accustomed to her own voice, "This world is full of sounds, and every creature has his own voice. Yet everyone is always so consumed in their own thing and saying their own words that no one ever stops to listen. No one wants to take a moment out of their oh so busy days to simply stop and listen. The world is full of voices and all of them are trying to talk at once and get one word in edge wise; they're so consumed in the sound of their own speech that none of them stop to listen to what another has to say. They're all talking, talking and yet none of them are ever being heard...not really.

"My sister's voice was apart of this world's choir. She sang in it everyday, yet no one could hear her. No one could hear her when she sang of the pain; no one could hear her when she sang of that monster in her closet; no one could hear her when she sang, begging for mercy; no one could hear her. No one would hear her. There was not one ear to hear her when she needed to be heard; there was no ear to hear when she warned them; there was no ear to hear the gunshot. No one would hear.

"So I vowed to myself, many years ago, that I would never speak without cause. I vowed to become that ear that the world so desperately needed...that my sister so desperately needed...not another voice to join the unrehearsed choir. I would simply remain silent and listen."

And that's what she did. From that day on she never uttered another word from her average lips with her average voice. She simply watched and listened to the world so full of voices.





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