When You Talk Over My Stutter, You Steal My Voice
All people see is that I'm freezing up. But that space between my words is mine to fill.
Illustrations by Molly Fairhurst
I count three people ahead of me in line and four people behind me. I breathe in through my nose and repeat the words “iced coffee” in my head over and over like I’m cleaning out a stain. It’s my turn now. I swallow a lump of spit. I take a step forward and prepare to order. The cashier has light brown hair twisted into a long braid, perched on her right shoulder like a parrot. Her face is square and her skin is olive and I can hear my heart pounding in my ears. “Hi, what can I get for you?” Her voice sounds like a slushy from 7-Eleven, cold and refreshing with no frills. I open my mouth slightly and try to sound out the word “iced” through an avalanche of pressure suddenly inflating in the back of my throat. “I-I-I...” I hate myself for getting nervous over this. “Um, I asked what can I get for you,” she says again, confused as if her first question caught me off guard. As if I hadn’t just waited in line to order. I smile and nod, a reflex I can’t cont…