by Jeff Friedman
The singer lost her voice, and though her lips were perfectly shaped around syllables, only breath came out. For seven days she remained silent, gargling salt water to soothe her throat muscles. When she attempted to sing again, her voice wouldn’t sound; no matter how much effort she exerted, she couldn’t coax or force it out, so she made an appointment with a specialist, who nodded knowingly, winked at her, and told her not to worry, that her voice would come back when she didn’t expect it. After a long period of time, she didn’t expect to hear her own voice anymore, so she thought that as the doctor predicted, it might return. Yet it didn’t. Then she went to a healer, who poured warm oil down her throat. The oil soothed her throat; there was more silence. She found a witch online, who said it was a curse. The witch created a spell to remove the curse that had stolen her voice. “I can see your voice in the air flying toward you. Can you see it?” The singer shook her head. “Open your mouth and let it in.” Something might have flown in her mouth; she didn’t know. She closed her eyes and sang; her song was soundless. The palm reader traced the deep grooves of her palm and said, “You will sing again, but first you must live like a bird.” What did that mean? Build a nest and live in a tree? Eat only seeds and nuts? learn to fly? She moved her arms as though they were wings. She ate her food in small quick bites. She puffed out her chest, threw back her head to sing, but couldn’t even produce a whisper. Then she found a guru who had the answer. The guru prayed and chanted. He burned incense. “Go home,” he said. “Drink this tea every night and chant these words, and you will sing.” Night after night, she drank her tea and chanted the prayer silently. Then one night, she stood in the mirror, a glint in her eyes. Her voice would return now—she was sure of it. She began to mouth one of her favorite songs. White butterflies streamed out, landing on the glass. Then out came rays of gold dust particles and hidden fears. The mirror clouded, then cleared. The song fell back into her throat like water swirling down a drain. She walked out of her home and looked up at the clear white moon. She steadied herself, inhaled the darkness and from her lungs and chest she pushed a song out with all her might. Thousands of sparks flew into the air.
Last updated September 19, 2022