Hardly Breathing

Voiceless

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I watched as she sat with silence
She hardly uttered a word and when she did it was softly spoken
Her hands were clasped and her head mostly hung down or stared off into nothingness
Very seldom did her eyes meet his
Her demeanor did not represent humility – it spoke of fear
Her behaviour was learnt

Z E R O voice.

She was spoken AT and TO but not WITH
I wondered how many years she lived this way

Voiceless.
Silent.
DEAD.

She had to be in her early 70s
I suspect she spent very many years this way

MINIMIZED.

IRRELEVANT.

VOICELESS.

But not him
He was loud
Powerful AND confident
Every single letter he spoke mattered
It could have mattered to all of us sitting at Coffee Bean while he spewed his words at her
If any one else took a moment to notice them
But mostly everyone sat in their own worlds
Not seeing a broken soul in their midst.

But I saw
And I heard

He was not silent
He sat tall and his echo was resounding
Even more so, his EGO
He had all say and every thought mattered
She sometimes softly answered him…
So softly that he had to ask her to repeat it

I wondered how many times he had overpowered her
And all the ways in which he did it
I wondered…
How many millions of deaths she died every time she tried to claim her self respect

I wished I could reach over and tell her to reclaim her power
I wished I could step in and be the voice she needed
But I know this is something we have to learn mostly on our own
Only when we get enough

I wondered if she had children
And do they know she is dead inside
Her heart was beating
But her voice was gone
I wonder if they ever tried to be a voice for her
I wonder if she cried herself to sleep last night
Or did she just die another death as she closed her eyes
And thought of her day, her last week, her last month
And all those years she can never get back.

I wonder if she even knows…
She was just barely existing amongst the crowd of people in Coffee Bean

-Jeannie Shaw

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