“The Way I Talk” by Michele Bledsoe
Local poet and writer, Manuel Paul Arenas and Half-Price Books generously donated an assorted collection of blank journals to give to the children at the center where I volunteer.
I handed out many journals this summer, and this is the story of one of them.
During class, I looked up and saw a little girl hovering in the doorway. She was hesitant, extremely shy and awkward. With encouraging words, I somehow managed to coax her into the room.
She stared at me intently, but said nothing.
I asked her if she kept a diary.. if she knew what a journal was for.
She remained silent, but her stare intensified.
I could tell she was listening to every word I said.
So, I went on – explaining how a journal was a book where you can write down your dreams. You could fill it with stories, pictures and poetry. A place where you could say anything and express yourself completely without saying a word.
Then I handed one of those beautiful, little books to this silent child and told her, “This is your journal.”
Her eyes opened wide as she stared at the book in her hands, and sat down in the nearest chair. I watched as she examined her new journal.. turning it over and over in her hands. Then she grabbed a pencil, put her head down and began to write and write and write.
Throughout the day, groups of kids came and left. But despite the chaos in the room, that little girl remained sitting at a table by herself, head down and furiously writing.
Eventually, she came up for air.. and spoke briefly. Just a random comment, but I suddenly understood the reason for her silence. My heart went out to her – this beautiful child had a pronounced speech impediment.
As artists, we understand how life changing it is to be able to express yourself creatively. These children come from difficult circumstances.. and the simple gift of an empty book may be all it takes to change a life.
Thank you, Manny. And thank you, Half-Price Books for your wonderful gift.
So much more than just an assortment of blank books – your generous and loving donation gave a silent child a very powerful voice.