Void and Voice
She never knew what it was like to lose her voice. To feel unworthy. To feel used. She only knew what it was like to be loud, verbose, able to signify what she was feeling in a few simple words. She had enough force in her voice within her body to fabricate stories, change minds, and reveal the intelligence she has kept inside. She was beautiful and miraculous with an illuminating presence that made everyone turn their heads and want to know her. She exhibited sophistication that seemed to take years of practice, but she caught on in a matter of seconds. She was kind and caring, always asking to help, asking to be a friend. To her, everyone was worth the time and the effort, but some did not take to her being.
Some assumed she tried too hard; that she was the fakest person alive and that no one could demonstrate that level of perfection. They went on to beat her down physically and mentally, and spoke of the rumors that were not true, but most thought they were. She was then labeled as a ditz, a freak, a fake, a prude, a whore, anything and everything imaginable. She soon started to lose her voice, or more so, they stole it from her. She started to hide, lose her sophistication, not show her intelligence, and hide from those who needed aid. She traded in her effort for laziness and lack of motivation. She fell.
She fell farther and farther down a black hole of despair in which she did not know when it would end. It was never-ending, bottomless, cold, and dark. Were her intentions not good? Did she fail? She started to believe the notion that she was a fake, that she was lesser than everyone else, but she refused at the time. She refused to give in, to believe what everyone thought was the truth. She tried denying the backlash and the agony it caused her, but she was not strong enough. Her strength. Her power. Herself. All was lost the minute she started to doubt herself. So, she continued to plunge into the darkness. As she fell deeper into the hole, she heard a voice.
This voice was not her own. It was not the voices she had been hearing in her head from the minute she was outcast to now. It was different, soothing. She found great comfort in this voice. It had a motherly tone to it, as if it was singing a lullaby and telling the girl that she would be okay, that she did not need to be scared or fall any longer. The girl argued with this disembodied voice, saying it was wrong, and all the other voices she heard were the truth. As she fought, the voice listened, and gave her reassurance. The voice discredited every negative thought that resonated in the girl’s mind, but could not seem to find the end of the pit the young girl threw herself in.
When the voice started to falter and fade, this dark pit soon became plastered with neon writings or all of the negativity the girl faced. With the voice gone that had kept her somewhat afloat, she started to succumb to the words that soon flew off the wall and sliced her from wrist to thigh. She no longer had any control of the thoughts that encompassed her mind for they were alive. They cut deep into her body, leaving her falling, bleeding. As she bled, she began to have no recollection of her past life as this was her life now. She was a broken shell of the girl she used to know and be. In her head, she started the flashbacks to the streets she used to walk, but they were plagued with blank, sullen looks from those that once idolized her and wanted to be around her. She was shouldered in the hallways and spat at. There were snickers and glares where there used to be smiles and laughter. The undercut mockery that she was never exposed to in her mind felt like the world imploded. She gained more insecurity within herself, her beliefs, her motives. It started to become too much and the blood just kept dripping into the bottomless abyss. She grew faint, wondering if she would ever be free from the pain she felt within her as well as out of her.
The excruciating pain she was suffering from was unlike any other. It emanated from the depths of her soul and worked their way up to the surface of the cuts; taunting her, abusing her. “You’re Worthless.”
“You will never amount to anything.”
Those thoughts ran clear as a bell.
They raced within her mind as the bars of the prison she was locked in. There was no key. No way out. She tried to run. She tried to flee with every ounce of her being that she could possibly muster from herself, but nothing.
She found no solace in her mind, the pit, there was no one and nothing to hear her screams. When a tree falls in the forest when there is no one present, does anyone hear it? No. So why did she think she would be heard?
Why did she think she was that certain percentage that could be helped, could be aided? “You’re Nothing.”
The voices increased. A few became many. The silence became deafening. She was drowning in the flood of negativity. Her cuts started to burn; the blood ran thicker than water. There was no door. No key. She just fell.
She plummeted further and further and found no relief until she heard the voice. The voice bellowed her name and told her to swim. “Swim out of the seas of negativity and come back to the light.”
“You are worth it.”
“You are everything.”
“You can amount to so much.”
The girl, trapped in an endless stream of lies and rumors and projectiles of hurt mustered all that was in her to find her way to the light. She struggled for what felt like days, weeks, months. She broke and blocked out the deprecation with her own thoughts.
Why put in the effort? Why fight the inevitable? Why face a world where no one cares? No one matters? No one takes the time to truly understand the fear, the contemplation, the agony of the heart? A heart of gold is encompassed in a tomb of loss, struggle, and heartache. None of that goes away; none of that is fixed. Why fix the unfixable? I have gotten to the point where I cannot control my tears. There have been nights or just times when I wanted to, no, needed to cry, but nothing would emerge. As I have been falling, it has proven to be ceaseless. No matter how hard I try, I cannot force them to stop. They just keep streaming down my face like the waters of Niagara. I consistently thought I was strong. Act like nothing could hurt me. I thought I could protect myself from anything life threw at me, especially in affairs of the heart. I thought I could perform in a mask of happiness and serenity. I am strong right? I am beautiful, or so I think. I am the best version of myself that I have ever been, but then why does this hurt? Why do these comments torment me to my very core? I feel like a shell of who I thought I could be. I learned my worth. I learned to not be pushed around. I learned to make friends and to have fun. Every ounce of my being wanted to prove it and display it for everyone to see.
Needless to say, I messed up. I know what I need to do, what I have to do, but I simply feel weak. I feel useless. I feel like the nothing they perceive me to be. Every part of me aches to give in and give up, but I do not know how I would recover. How would I face the world if I choose to rise from this hole? I am scared. Scared of what would be said. Scared of the backlash that would befall me. From this descent, I have lost focus. I fear failure as my rival. I have lost the motivation to ascend. I do not know how to heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon me. I will never rid my head of the past even when I assume that there is a bright future awaiting me. Losing myself was so easy. Finding myself will prove to be difficult. I do not know where to start. I do not remember what “healthy” is anymore.
As the girl furthered into the depression that wreaked havoc on her mind, the voice called out again. It was the alarm; the faith she needed to escape. It rattled her to her core, and she broke from the chains that bound her to the cave. As she made her ascent, she refocused herself to what she knew. She began to wrap her wounds; one day they will soon fade, leaving her scars that she could turn into beautiful artwork to remind her of the resilience she found. The resilience was that shard of hope that, if she did not gather, it would have been the end. The voice proceeded to usher her along to scale the abyss. She stumbled; she would fall a few steps, but never did she surrender to the web that had been spun beneath her. She was a fly, a prisoner, but she broke free. She found solace in the voice. That simple, disembodied voice was her savior. She was free.
She found the voice. She could not define what she saw in front of her. It was not a mirror; it was not her past. It was her future. The girl examined the voice that was now in a physical form. She noticed the cuts; she recognized the sorrow drawn eyes. The manifestation was broken. That much was clear to a naked eye. It knew pain. It knew the brokenness and the afflictions from a few effortless words that hit too hard. But,
It was beautiful.
It was fearless.
It was everything that the girl wished herself to be. That she will be. She cried. She laughed. She tried to hug this apparition posed in front of her, but all it did was smile, give her a nod, tell her she was going to make it, and disappeared. It was not a disappearance per say, for the girl knew that she would meet the being again, this time, when she was ready for it was stationed within herself. She cried not knowing what to do; how to restore her now-tarnished image.
She was broken.
She was afraid.
She cried for hours until her eyes were puffy and she fell asleep. When she rose, she started anew. She began to write. She wrote from sunrise to sundown. She went for drives to the middle of nowhere and laid in fields covered in sunflowers and watched sunsets where the sky touched the ground. She sang and danced to her heart’s content. She wrote and burned all the nasty comments ever made toward her. She went on to be herself.
She felt invigorated.
She felt amazing.
She felt fresh.
But yet, she was still consumed by numbness.
She could not place why she felt this numbing sorrow, but it was unsettling. She had covered the scars with the same sunflowers she would lay in, but she was still unsteady. She wrote letters to herself, reassuring her that she was okay. That she was alive. That she was newly born. She could not erase the thoughts that once plagued her mind; they were only thrown to the back of it, still haunting her. That is the fatal flaw of being shattered. There is no cure; only renewal and mending. People are fragile; plates of humanity. They can be broken, taped back together, but they will never be the same. She will never rid herself of the demeaning utterances that were shot at her. She can only work to improve and join forces with the solidarity that infects her soul. One cannot change the past, only work towards the future. The disembodied voice of herself confirmed that for her. All she can do is become the author of her story. She had begun writing her ending too soon. She received a second chance to make an alternate ending, but that comes with time. It cannot be sped up nor forced. She will never be able to hide or flit from scrutiny and negativity, but she can fight with all her might and live. Live in the way she finds fit. Live for herself. Live to make better for who she knows she can be and who she is. She rediscovered her voice. She never truly lost it; it was just silenced in the void. She was torn down.
She was destroyed.
She was rebuilt.
She is beautiful.
She is strong.
Her voice runs true.
Kathryn Drey is a Junior English Secondary Education major with a Writing minor. She has contributed past works of literature in the 2020 and 2021 Writer's Conference. Ms. Drey finds joy writing, reading, and volunteering in her community such as the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Joliet, IL in her free time.