The Girl Who Whispered

Once upon a time, there was a quiet girl. Her heart was filled with good and beautiful things. She was not mute, but she was always afraid to talk. She would want to whisper words about white birds, sweet rabbits, cotton candy clouds, byzantiums, the pegasus, and the migrant butterflies who clothe the naked saints. Instead of birds and byzantiums, however, her words only slithered forth in a wet tar of centipedes, caterpillars, cockroaches, black snakes, blue bottles and silverfish pouring from her mouth. The locals ran from her screaming. I am a curse, she thought, and all whom I speak to are damned. Some locals threatened to sew her mouth shut and banished her to the marsh–the only suitable place for filth. One day, as she was wading in the thick water of the mists over the marsh, she spied a youth with a boat full of glass amphorae. Please, she said to the youth, help me. You must drain my body of its filth. I will speak into your amphorae. Perhaps they will be enough to contain the curse and the filth of my insides. The youth was suspicious but kind, and as the amphorae were empty anyway, he allowed her to place her lips to each opening and speak into them. She would not be watched, so he wandered off to see if he could find something interesting in the reeds. One by one, she filled them, shuddering as the legions of eels, snakes, silverfish, blue bottles and centipedes streamed from her mouth like a dark diarrhea. When she had nearly finished filling the last amphora, the boat began to sink under the weight of her insides which she had vomitted out. Returning empty-handed, the youth was shocked to see the boat sinking under the weight of the glowing amphorae. Who on earth would drown a pegasus or a byzantium? the youth wailed. The girl was holding onto the last bit of boat that had not yet sunk. Only now, she too could see the gold and silver sparkle of all the beautiful things sinking into the blackwater of the marsh. Without thinking twice, the youth grabbed her and hauled her up onto a sandbar. The boat and the glass amphorae full of wonders had vanished below. You have been bewitched, the youth sighed. I will take you away from here, and we shall never return. Because she was too weak from speech, from emptiness, from treading water, he carried her on his back, making his way towards the sandy shores of the sea. Perhaps there he would find some driftwood to build a raft for their escape.

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