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Confined This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“Okay, let's go around the room, and each person will read aloud the question and answer on the worksheet.” Mr. Ludwig's voice rang out, deep and loud.

My pulse quickened. I could feel my heart drumming painfully against my ribs. I had to concentrate on my breathing to keep it steady. My hands started to shake so badly that I had to put down my paper and fold them across my chest.

Each person read their number from the worksheet. My turn was fast approaching. I was ­almost hyperventilating. Finally, the student before me finished his turn, and I had to speak.

I opened my mouth and got stuck on a silent block on the very first sound. It was hard and tense, but I tried to push my way through. But my stutter grew worse, and I could hardly control my choppy, ragged breathing. My face was hot with embarrassment. Still, I pressed on. I had made it to the third word and I could sense every pair of eyes on me. I didn't look up; I couldn't. I couldn't face their expressions of confusion and judgment. I finally finished my sentence; my round of torture was over.

“I'm just going to finish the rest of these.” Mr. Ludwig's voice sounded again. I couldn't shake the sense that I was being watched.

My lip was quivering and I could feel the sting in my eyes. I bit down hard on my bottom lip, drawing blood. I wouldn't allow myself the luxury of crying in the middle of class over my stutter. No, I'd wait until I got home so I could curl up in a corner on my bed hugging a pillow.

My teacher finished the worksheet and signaled for me to follow him out of the room. Another wave of tears threatened to spill over but somehow I kept them back. He closed the door behind us and sincere remorse filled his eyes.

“I'm sorry,” he said. “I won't make you do that again.”

I nodded. I didn't trust myself to speak; I knew that if I started crying I wouldn't be able to stop. I followed him back into the classroom and concentrated on not breaking down.

Lunch and the three remaining hours passed excruciatingly slowly. When I got home, I allowed myself to cry for half an hour. When my mother arrived home, I focused on keeping my composure until I was in my own room.

I said good night an hour before I normally did, but my parents didn't notice anything suspicious. I washed my face and closed my bedroom door. Undressing slowly, I let the tears build up until they overflowed. I turned off my light and allowed myself to cry into my pillow. A million thoughts bombarded me at once, making my tears uncontrollable.

They don't realize what they have, I thought to myself. They all take it for granted. They can just talk without even thinking about it. I would kill to have one stutter-free day. To be able to address a crowd with confidence, without having my heart beat painfully, or shaking to the point of seizure. To be able to talk freely, leisurely. I've never experienced a single day like that.

My breathing came out in wild gasps and I had to press my face further into the pillow.

I am confined by it, I thought. It controls me in a way I wish it didn't. It is always looming over me, just waiting for me to utter a word so it can strike me down. But I will allow myself only this one night of crying. I will never cry over my stutter again.

It was a couple of hours before exhaustion won over and I passed into a restless, dreamless sleep.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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HIPPIEatHEART_writerINsoul This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Much like the other piece you wrote, this is brilliant!

Although I've never had a stutter, I could, literally, feel the emotions you were feeling.

Amazing, once again!

 
SilverSnowflakes said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm
Well-written... this reminds me of other things people take forgranted, such as.... being able to walk without having to think about supporting the arches in your feet, or even being able to close your mouth without concentrating on it - two things that I've found to be very annoying.
 
StarlingChild This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm
Wow. What a powerful story! I loved it!! Every detail pulled me in, caused me to feel your emotions and understand your position. I hope something can be done about your stutter; it must be agonizing to live with. But regardless, you'll always be a great writer, I can tell. Good job!
 
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