A small breeze froze the cold sweat on my brow as I tumbled out of my haunting dreamworld. I’d dreamed I’d had no mouth; when I tried to speak I couldn’t. All I could do was growl. I sounded like a wounded animal.
Eyes open, my hands shot to my face. I felt my mouth, pulling on my bottom lip. I threw back the covers and swung my legs off the bed exposing my nakedness to my posters. I turned and looked at the reflection in my mirror. There it was. Two lips, teeth, and a tongue. Everything in order.
I sat back down in bed and felt my pulse in my throat. Just a bad dream, I told myself, nothing more. Of course I had a mouth. I wondered if anything could actually survive without a mouth. How would that work? I watched the dust dance in the diagonal light rays pouring through my windows and waited for my heart to settle.
A polite knock came from the door. Tat tat tat.
“Yeah?” I said. “Come in.”
Tat tat tat.
I crossed the room and opened the door to my mother who looked like she’d been up for hours already. She smiled and tapped her wrist.
“What?” I asked.
The smile left her eyes as she cocked her head back and then to the side. She looked shocked, which gave way to curiosity as she looked my face up and down. Finally she put the back of her hand to my forehead and rolled her eyes upward and nodded. Fever? Maybe I was still pale from sleep. She took the hand away and shook her head.
“What?” I repeated.
A flurry of hand motions and the shocked look again. What the… She grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the kitchen. She put me in front of father and pointed at me as if she was a carnival barker. Another flurry of hand motions. He responded in kind.
“What am I missing? When did you two learn sign-language?” I asked, half laughing, anxiety crawling up my neck.
They both turned to stare at me. I’m still dreaming. I pinched myself to make sure. Nope.
They had continued to throw hands at one another. My mother looked more frightened than dad, who looked annoyed. He stood and took my hands in his and turned them over once, twice and then back to my mother with a shrug.
“Okay, this isn’t funny anymore.” I said nearing tears. “Can someone please talk to me?” Neither seemed eager to speak up, so I did. “Say something!”
Smack. Across the left cheek from father. He took my shoulders and shook gently. Fear was in his eyes now too. I reached for father’s paper on sitting on the kitchen table. I scanned with my index for the words I needed.
“Why” “don’t” “you” “talk”
Their eyes watched my finger stop under each and looked at each other. Slowly, I watched their hands produce the same movement. Father looked at the paper, and did the same.
“we” “are” “Why” “aren’t” “you”