I see you there, trembling on the threshold of your speech, because we (the world and I) have got our eyes on you.
I see your lips rolling scared behind your teeth: biting back screams, and biting back the words, too—the words only you can speak, the words we all are waiting for.
You don’t want to be here—I know that.
Yet you’ve made it this far.
I know you’ve got fifty knotted emotions tangled up in your lungs, and it hurts to filter them all: nightmare shriek from the touchstone words, the lost-child wail from an advocate’s facts.
You want all of us, every last one of us in the world, to listen; still, you don’t want to speak.
You wish someone else would do this, but guess what?
You’re the only one who can.
I can’t sing your song for you, honey. I would if I could, but it would fizzle on my ignorant lips and prove useless, like sugar that never really sweetens cold tea. This is your song and I need you to teach it to me.
I need your voice.
Now I see you eyeing the exits. I see your fingers tapping out Morse cusswords on your thigh, lusting for the hold of a cigarette.
That’s all right, Survivor: go on and let your knees rattle if they need to.
Croak it on out: the true, the tragic, the great and horrible everything. The world needs to hear it.
I need to hear it.
You are my hero. (I know you don’t want the attention of that title, but it’s true.)
When your words come, they sound jagged to you and you hate them; but do you know what they are to me?
There is so much fire in you, Survivor, that to hear you speak is to be wrapped in the curling flame-feathers of the phoenix, to rise up filled with life to the point of weeping.
I want to hear how it happened, how you got out, how you still struggle, how you found your way to this microphone and how your heart won’t let you run and hide.
Your terrified truth-telling holds such power that, really, you often leave me speechless!
You, telling your story right there on the edge of a panic attack, are beautiful and fierce as f*ck.
So go on, grab your cigarette, and tremble all you need to. Just please, please tell your story.
I need to hear it.
I need to hear it because I give a damn: about you, about this world we share, about what a generation forward will have to deal with. And I need to know your story can be told no matter how scary it is.
Survivor: you are teaching me how to tell my own.
Author: K.A. Laulumets
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Chase Carter at Flickr