Ela Leo

There is a voice within me that has not yet been heard, that wants freed. The voice would shoot the moon for a chance at immortality. It needs the sun. 

Seasoned writers advise, “Keep the reader in mind” (Bill White). Good point, much appreciated! A new voice might accidentally overdo narcissism or stylistic pruning, “having tried to write less picturesquely and more exactly” (George Orwell). A story wants telling, not to loose its chance.

I keep three wishes ready, lest I should chance to meet
Any day a fairy coming down the street.

I’d hate to have to stammer, or have to think things out
For it’s very hard to think things up when fairies are about.

So I keep three wishes ready, lest I should chance to meet
Any day a fairy coming down the street.
(Folk Rhyme)

My toddler voice sounded gravely, careful, slurring, drunk on the praise of my mother recording my first recitation. How I loved her approval.

A life of reciting kept me belonging. My family’s church expected pat answers. I learned them all. More, I lived them the best I could. Dissension made one unworthy. Unholy thoughts made one ugly. But how does an intelligent child not think? A generation of religiously disciplined kids believed what we were told to believe, even if it didn’t match what we experienced.

The secret voice within me couldn’t say what happened when no one saw. The voice felt its shame, but in time accepted the unspoken duality of its private experiences. Or it tried.

But the voice heard. Mothers’ murmured together, gossip of child abuse and unpunished wife-murder in our community. Even so, a spin on point of view redetermined roles, whether victim or villain. I wondered then, if other people’s stories got retold would my truth ever be allowed?

So if today we have on our hands a rising generation of extremist youth so desperate they’d sacrifice themselves in terrorism… it’s no surprise. Denying freedom of thought damages the mind. The voice within me considers crimes the effects of mental illness.

I never had the heart to condemn my secret voice. If I couldn’t speak, in fiction my characters live alternate realities. If my community couldn’t accommodate every voice, in my imagination every role merits recognition and support. I’d invent a world that frees secret voices.

Details in my puzzle-piece contribute to the whole, the sum of human perspectives counted. My story adds to the cacophony of joy and sorrow that makes up the human condition. I write to give voice to my own humanity. If humanity is affected by my voice, I touch immortality.

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