Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Lock and Key (08/21/14)
TITLE: More Than Words
By Joe Moreland
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I collapsed back into my pillows, relief washing over me. Turning my head towards my wife, I smiled. I tried to tell her “thank you” but only grunts and indecipherable groans emerged. I could not get the words formed in my brain to travel to my tongue. I threw my head back in frustration, banging it violently against the soft cushions.
“Your welcome, dear.” My wife leaned forward and smoothed the blanket over my chest.
I turned my head towards the blank wall on my left, leaving the image of pity I saw in her eyes behind me. For days I had been like this, unable to communicate, but able to see and hear perfectly. Medications had done little to help the situation. All thoughts were locked inside my head, where there seemed no way to free them from my brain and get them out into the world.
Hour after hour people visited and told me to hang in there. That I would make a full recovery. That everything would be okay.
No! It won't! I wanted to scream. I so badly wanted to speak again that I would have gladly lost my cool and given everyone who came into my room a verbal beatdown. Usually my wife would make some lame excuse about me being tired—or loopy from the meds they were giving me—and efficiently usher the irritating visitors out of my room.
My days were spent trying to say something. Anything. Any word, or syllable, would have made me ecstatic. Even words I hated. Like “Bieber”. Or “irregardless.” “Irregardless” was too much to ask for, but I would have settled for just “ear”. Oh, well, it's not really a word anyway, but I figured if there would be anything I could actually say it would be something I absolutely hate hearing other people say. But even little games and tricks like that didn't work. There had to be some way I could unlock these hopelessly scrambled brainwaves and get a clear signal through to my tongue.
My mouth was so dry. I turned my head back to my wife, intending to try once more to communicate. She was holding a cup out towards me, straw bent towards my mouth. I drew my brows together in confusion as I took a sip.
That was weird.
I started to lift my head, and she hit the button on the side of the bed that slowly lifted the top half until I was sitting eye to eye with her. I tilted my head as I locked my gaze on hers and did a quick rundown.
Without fail for the past few days, it seemed she had anticipated my every need. When people were getting on my nerves she shooed them away. When I was hungry, a look was all it took to send her in search of food. Drinks were at hand almost before I knew I was thirsty. Bed adjustments, pillow fluffing, bathroom trips and even questions I wanted to ask the doctor. She took care of it all without missing a beat.
I realized, suddenly, that I had been struggling so much to vocalize all of my needs from the moment I lost my voice, but I had been communicating them somehow to my wife the whole time.
But, how? I looked into her lovely green eyes.
“Why, because I love you, of course, you silly goose!”
I blinked twice in confusion.
“I can read you like an open book. You're not that difficult, you know. Food, water, tv; pretty much all the same stuff you talk about when your tongue works.” She smiled at me a smile that touched her eyes. A smile that said “I love you” more than any words.
A lump formed in my throat. Love. That's how she knew. Love was the key. Once more my eyes met hers and a thought tried to fight it's way to my tongue.
“I know you do, dear. I know.”
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