You don't think the words so much as feel them. Their texture, their shape, the delicate shifts in color as they come together and form meaning. Soon, you begin to paint them - pen on paper, text on screen. The words flow from your mind to your fingers as if your tongue was never there.

(for the better part of your life, it wasn't.)

Couplets, sonnets, prose. You no longer think, you craft. Each utterance planned weeks in advance - prepared, revised, perfected.

Logic, facts, statements. You are surrounded and oppressed. Hard, blunt truth - unmolded and unfinessed and impossibly harsh. You learn, slowly, to use them, unweildy though they are. You become proficient, if not fluent.

The swirling shades will always be your native tongue.


Young, accused, attacked. Forced to quick action, you've no choice but to speak. They appear in fragments, broken words that fall from your mouth. They fall rather than fly (aimed like a spear, shot like a bullet). Mumbled or stuttered and never elegant - barely intelligible - useless.

Later, you will write on it. Curse your fool, vestigial tongue. Curse it on the screen, darkening the white of the screen to black with your hatred. Darken it letter by letter - here a shadow, there a scar.


But that was a long time ago. You've grown some, and there are girls. They think with logic, speak of facts. New countries, foreign accents. But there is one voice tinged with the familiar. A single line of poetry unmistakably composed - stubborn holdovers of the mother tongue she long ago abandoned.

She's the one, the one who understands. She, like you, has always had an aptitude for foreign languages. Only logical - you've been speaking two languages for as long as you've been speaking. With each exchange you translate what you hear into its deepest meaning, the one intended by its speaker. You translate, clumsily, your own into speech, that awkward pidgin dialect. It is slow work, and difficult, but you become accustomed to it. Learning a third language, or a fourth, is trivial.

You see her and set to work. Your masterpiece, the words you will use to sway her. Complements, conceits, but make no mention of eye color. Any error could be disastrous - you've never looked her in her eyes. You can barely stand to glance at them, for nervousness (the fear of falling in).


New Year's, basement, beer. You've befriended her by now, though you've never told her about the dark blue mist that's been swirling in the deep of your chest since you found her. She asks on a whim to be described in seven words. Blindsided, you stutter.

Brilliant, beautiful, special, (your mind springs upon) golden. You struggle to find more.

So I'm special? says she. That's all I've ever really wanted to hear.

I remember back in sixth grade, I had a crush on this boy. He never said I was pretty. He said I was smart and I was fast. That was back when I was still fast.

I remember that all I really wanted to hear was that I was special.

You assure her that she is, in fact, special. To you in particular. That much is easy to say. What would follow a few days later is not.


You speak to her at night, in front of a glowing screen. Sound does not carry far enough for her to hear you, so you let your fingers do the talking.

Suddenly, What is my mind?

The type is round in a sans-serif font, but you know they are pointed daggers and you feel each one as it jolts into your consciousness.
(the words are barbed and you know that once they are inside they will not leave without drawing blood.)

This is it. Now is the time. Quick breath, hold, release, onetwothree and you are away, furiously pounding the keys, an attempt to imbue the letters on the screen with the passion in your heart. The letters do seem darker on the page, the contrast greater - that sound in your ears is your heart beating 80 words per minute.

Close your eyes, you whisper. Imagine the most beautiful shade of golden.

Now make it glow.

Make it turn in fascinating loops and curls and shapes. Make it veer and dive.

Make it soar.

And that's what I see.


I like that, she says. And suddenly it all seems worth it.

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