It was her secret. No one knew, not even her boyfriend. And she wanted to keep it that way. Telling people would mean speaking out and she wasn’t sure how to do that.
She had been mute for 22 years. People had thought she’d never speak out. Her parents had given up hope, and so had her doctors.
But then one day, he waltzed into her uneventful life. She stood on the pavement looking at vehicles clamouring past with no intention of stopping. The pedestrian crossing was just a dab of paint in her wheel-inflicted neighbourhood.
Every time she took a step towards the crossing, a car would whiz by, knocking the wind out of her and messing up her hair. And she’d step back onto the comforting pavement, and wait for another rare gap when the street would be less occupied.
After what seemed like hours, a man popped out of nowhere and stood at her side. He tilted his head to peek at the endless stream of vehicles, and then took a couple of steps back.
Heaving a sigh, he turned to look at her. “Busy street, huh?” he raised his eyebrows. Though she hadn’t heard what he said, she read him. And smiled, with a vigourous nod. He said nothing more, and she returned her gaze to the traffic lights, wondering if someone had tampered with it.
The next thing she knew, someone had grabbed her arm and dragged her onto the street. In one swift moment, she crossed the street. When she realised it, she was on the other side of the street, her hair all over her eyes, and the man heaving next to her. Her heart thumped in its rib cage and she breathed deep to bring it down to normal.
“What the hell did you do, you a — ” She almost blurted out. The words exploded inside her head, but not a sound escaped her mouth. He was smiling at her, expecting to say something. When she didn’t, however, he realised shouldn’t linger any longer. Waving at her, he disappeared into the building nearby.
Looking his figure shrinking in the distance, she mused, “asshole.” And this time, the word came out loud enough for her to hear it. For the first time in 22 years, she had uttered a word.