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THE CLEAR grey eyes stared back, calm, the forehead above, smooth, dry.
His furrowed brow was beaded in perspiration, though his eyes were anything but serene. He tried, he tried, with all his might. He said, “Tyrll tryll cyrd phallsyllium. Twith, magontsee. Sii, sii, ees mooche kanist.”
That wasn’t what he wanted to say at all. His mouth was all numb, like he’d just escaped from the dastardliest of all dastard dentists, who had used his gums as a pin-cushion for anaesthesia needles. Nothing worked for him. The numbness must be spreading to his brain, he was having trouble even thinking about the words that he wished to say. “Schplainen, errtist schplainen.” That wasn’t right at all. He might as well just drool, like a blithering, blathering, slathering idiot, for all the sense he was making. “Schplainen, errtist schplainen.” No good it was the same thing.
He might have been struck by lightning. The ultimate tasering. Stunned. Electrocution, not elocution. It could explain this horrible, horrible problem he was having with his diction, not that he was an orator of Cicero’s eloquence, yet he could always speak well enough. It was actually a main part of his job, and he handled it with ease, but now, now . . .
“Arf, arf. Ruff, ruff.” Those were barks like some mad dog as he cleared his throat, focused and tried again. He clenched his fists and squinted his eyes and centred his attention.
Those others eyes watched, impassive.
“Ull an athraac ooth byen aynn yark iin taal a sant feer tolst.” What was that he said? It didn’t make any sense at all. Surely he had been invaded by an alien entity from another planet that was controlling his mind. No, no, it was his body, his. He could control it.
“Quillanth wist wast wherst withill ast nast wist wast larst.” Still not what he wanted to say. It was stupid to think it was some outer-space alien that controlled him. He thought he had just spoken Latin or perhaps Aramaic. Whatever it was, it was a dead language, one long since gone extinct. He was definitely speaking in tongues. The devil had taken hold. He was possessed by a demon.
It simply couldn’t be. He knew without a doubt that he was a good man. Not high-quality, nor first-rate, nor was he pure beyond all doubt, but he was an honourable person. His thoughts, his actions were always for the greater good. What had happened to his voice that he could not speak? Chills ran up and down his spine. Even the tone of these misconstrued words were weak and quavering, let alone the simple sentences he tried to articulate. He could not verbalize the message he wished to say. How would he communicate? Could he ever converse again? Would he remain forever speechless?
He looked into those tirelessly waiting grey eyes. Another attempt. He must. Must!
“Allst. allst, sko sko moche, iiver en iiver, myst toos, allst, myst loovre, toos uust.” It was all just gibberish he was saying. Jabberwocky. It would even help, but he couldn’t, he couldn’t even get out any similes or metaphors. They at least could be interpreted, maybe even a malapropism. Gabble, twaddle, and claptrap, was all that came out and it was so, so on the tip of his tongue. Yet it was useless. He muted his mumbles. It had to be a predestined fate for one such as he. He was doomed.
Defeated, he looked across at those patient eyes. Words cannot express.
Those eyes looked back and a tear of joy formed. A smile crossed her lips and she said, “I know, I know. You do this every year. You torture yourself so much. I appreciate it, and can tell by everything you do. I know it. I do. And yet every Valentine’s Day, you can’t find the words to say, ‘I love you.’”