"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?" she asked.
Plenty, I thought.
But all the excuses and explanations, the reasons and realities, remained caged in the fists clenched at my sides rather than offered up in the palms of my hands like the pearls they were.
She raised an impatient eyebrow.
Just because I find it hard to express myself doesn't mean I have nothing to say!
How I longed to speak those words, to shout, to scream them at her... but, alas, the breath I needed to push them out would not come. I could not decide which had betrayed me, my mouth or my lungs.
"Nothing." I said.
Everything, I thought.
The words were stuck like popcorn kernels in my teeth that stayed put no matter how hard I dug at them with my tongue.
I watched hers flick across her lips, heard the sigh, waited for the eye roll I knew would come.
"You never cease to amaze me." she said.
Right back at you, I thought. I found her amazing, how she could use words to say their exact opposite. Where had THAT gene wandered off to, I wondered. She wielded words like scalpels in the hands of a surgeon. I dropped them like the broken toys of a clumsy child.
She left the room and I pulled the emptiness tight around me. I pretended that I had bound the words within myself, that I had prevented them from escaping because I knew they would bring certain ruin. But it was a lie. Those words would have been my salvation.