Swallowed words

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who swallowed a word. She didn’t quite know why she couldn’t speak that word. Maybe she was afraid of what others would think. Maybe she felt like her word was too much of a burden for others.

But like so many things in life, her small action started a chain reaction. Once she swallowed that one word, she found herself compelled to swallow more, each time hoping that it would be the last time. But day after day words arose that she needed to swallow.

Over time, these swallowed words seemed to take residence in her throat, leaving her gasping for air. And on top of that, she felt as though there was an elephant stepping on her chest. She tried to tell herself how irrational that was, but it seemed that her rational mind was on vacation. No matter what she told herself, that breathless feeling and that uneasiness in her heart just would not settle. She needed words, and yet none would come. She had swallowed one too many and now could no longer get any out.

She tried to ground herself in the present, looking around the room, and reminding herself how irrational that was. There was nothing blocking her airway but her own mind. And yet, that uneasiness in her heart would not settle. And words would not come. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get them out. The ache inside was too deep, too painful. There were no words to describe it. She couldn’t go on like this. But she didn’t know how to escape without words. Suddenly she noticed a strange sensation in her eyes. Her cheeks began to feel wet. And she realized that she was crying. She’d heard the word before – even had some tears now and then – but it had been years and the feeling was so foreign. And yet as they continued to fall, she noticed that the heaviness in her chest eased a bit. That day, she vowed never to swallow words again – and to never again underestimate the mysterious power of tears.

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