|About the Author: Maite Morales Correa. I was born on February 15, 2006, in Santiago, Chile, where I have grown and studied all my life.
I live with my parents, my sisters, my niece and my twin, which is an irrevocable essentially in my life, and who meant the most important thing in writing this essay, as well as participating in a mutual help group in his favor.
My interest in writing had been incubating from a vague desire to explain minutiae properly. So it happens that eventually my tendency became to put the situations in elaborated words, and those sentences, in micro-stories. It is then that I enter my interests and what I like in paragraphs that make up micro-stories, such as The Memory of The Printing as a Consummation of the Middle Ages, where situations and feelings that I have experienced form a story with an anecdotal leave.
Stammering -the subject- is treated here as a trigger rather than a major problem; although, the character faces the conflicts that stuttering entails, in turn this condition does not impede his evolution within the acceptance of himself. This is how, when the character has reached a remarkable zenith, he remembers how he had failed before in a similar situation due to the severity he held against himself, and most of the people around him did not help.
The Memory of the Print as Consummation of the Middle Ages is about how a dark period vanished after hurting for years to let another on flourish, whose success comes from a distressing base, however, necessary. All because of the acceptance o fan irrevocable factor, as the subject is.
Today’s a bad day. Today’s the worst day.
The teacher’s staring at me from his table, maybe thinking he was giving me strength. And he was close, but nevertheless happily unaware of the horrors spreading in my mind.
The board behind my back was now green, a green I had chosen. I like colors, I liked to write every name in my group with Abhaya Libre in the corner, with Roman Empire’s picture next to it. I liked design and I didn’t like to speak, and I found myself inflicting a huge mortification with only knowing that that was just what I was about to do next.
The teacher looked at the project while looking for a pencil in his sweater. I wasn’t really there though, my mind was somewhere else, maybe in the vague memory of my mom’s distant voice, telling me about normal people and how I used to be a part of them years ago, talking to me as you talk to a wall, because I couldn’t comprehend back then why my mom didn’t like me speaking to her friends about my stuffed animals.
–The Middle Ages.
I heard the tittle come from one of my friends mouth energetically. I noticed his voice somehow different, sensing his throat lump coming from the pure nervousness above us, above every single one of us. I feared speaking in case my voice sounded strange to me too; but it would be fine, if that meant a sudden epiphany would make me pronounce perfectly the letter M.
“M”. My name had an M, and so did the presentation. The printing press as a consummation of the Middle Ages seemed designed to cause me tedium. P, R, M, C, another M…Who invented that? And why didn’t he care at all for the tedium that meant to me?
–The Middle Ages is the longest period in history, in which the ideas we have nowadays were born…–He said, reading sideways the text we copied from the internet that was now projected on the wall, and it’s when I knew he had little idea what he was saying, but I knew he would win too–, and lasted from the fifth to the tenth? … fifteenth century, yes.
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair how the kid next to me was speaking about the most important period of our faculty as if he read it off a book and treated vaguely the main idea of it. It wasn’t fair that when I closed my eyes looking for peace in the uncertain loneliness of gloom, I had every paragraph tattooed on my eyelids, and even that wouldn’t give me the grade I worked so hard for. It is not fair.
One of my classmates seemed to notice my nuisance and the hint of anxiety rising in my chest, searching for my eyes he dedicated me a smile, trying to tell me we would make it.
“Speak as singing!” He had said to me just a few minutes ago, as digging up the best idea in the world, with a caution that spoke of a veiled series of inferences he feared to make and were trapped in his throat after the sentence, “why don’t you speak as if you’re singing?”
I had the bad luck to stutter even with rhythm, I answered, leaving him as in a disturbance, unable to help me, like an inoperative witness of my martyrdom when pronouncing. And he was, really, he was even when holding my hand and smiling; he wouldn’t fix my problem at all.
He let go of me to take care of the papers in his hand. The second image of the presentation belongs to him, mine are number three and nine. I caught myself calmed, breathing slowly, with imminent fear that it’ll be my turn in any second. However, I managed to control it, owning every word as if I invented them myself. There was only a paragraph left until my personified support ends its work, letting go of the breath he’d been holding in the bliss of honor, giving me the nervousness that meant speaking.
The Print as Consummation of the Middle Ages.
It was good, I had practiced it hundreds of times, I could recite every paragraph with my eyes closed.
With my eyes closed, however, not in front of the class. And came with that thought the realization that they didn’t understand me, every face was now unknown, and I noticed I didn’t have enough friends, that no one would say “hey, he just needs some time”.
In the torrent of anguish that cascaded down every inch of my body, no synonyms for printing reached my head. I was going to stutter, whether I wanted it or not, and the thought of it made my breathing frantic, and I would feel my heart stop in my chest at any moment.
–Ah…, the…printing as consumm…, of the Middle Ages. –I managed to say, pronouncing every word as slow as a snail, deciding to change some words at last moment. I wanted to punch myself. I noticed how I had implied that I didn’t know anything, and the detail angered me.
The teacher’s face told me something about disapproval mixed with pity and confusion; the grimace he would dedicate to each child who did not know the date of the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, and there was nothing else there except the frigid realization that everything I would say next would be in vain, being no more than the inability to communicate of a spoiled child, and the idea, meaning more a fact, left an acid cocktail on the side of my mouth, of sadness, disappointment and nervousness.
–Back then, books spread in…copies, manuscripts, done by monks and friars on behalf of the clergy or the kings, and those…the nobles. –I said, gesturing with my hands while the image of the paragraphs died in my head. I dared to really look straight ahead, towards the teacher, and I recognized in his eyes and in the incessant nod of his head the same look my mother gave me when I stuttered her name. – Thus, Gutenberg bet that he was able to make copies of the Bible faster than the fastest monk. —I said that part too slowly, way too slowly, and now everyone was looking at me. –And…ehm, like that…he didn’t know, and…and that was his invention.
The teacher raised his eyebrows as if he were asking me, “really?” and his understanding resembled a stranger before the babble of a child. And I was a child, except that I could speak.
–He put… made wooden molds of the entire alphabet and filled them with lead. — The words printed in my mind were pronounced again, but the custom that lodged in each syllable differed more and more with the score of eyes that were looking at me and the irrevocable repetitions–. More than one hundred and fifty types.
My paragraphs extended for what seemed like an eternity, in which I recognized and not the faces of my classmates, probably processing their brains what I had just said and, from time to time, I didn’t know it either, when I started to leave some words, some paragraphs, until almost completely losing the imaginary rhythm that I had in my imaginary spring.
Until it finished. There were no words left in the greenish void in which Arial spread. And I had ruined it, and even knowing that sitting on the fact did not make it easier to pass, I continued telling myself that I had made it terrible.
My rest happened in a fraction of a second, in zeros whose understanding did not cover the paragraphs of the sheet of paper breaking under the force of my hand.
–Hey –someone said, with the softness of a whisper and the drumming of two fingers on my shoulder–, it’s your turn.
It was true, the Fall of the Byzantine Empire.
And there came another part that I knew very well but was unspeakable: the decline, a plummet that resembled my situation miserably, a situation in which the photo of Constantinople began to blur in tears.
–The…the Fall of the Constanti…I mean Byzantine, whatever.
There was still a hint of letters in my mind, which whirlwind of thoughts vanished as soon as I remembered with regret the fact that the letter M was designed to infer a torment to me every time it was put into a word.
Like the dizzying gleam of a train in front of the eyes, like a hint of thought, but I was unable to master it, and I pretended not to know at last, as I always did, so they wouldn’t notice my stutter more than they had already done. I stopped, didn’t keep talking. And I noticed the look of concern of the blond next to me, this time without a smile as I felt my eyelashes curl in tears not spilled and the eyes of each of my classmates burn me.
– Aren’t you going to continue? –The gray-haired man asked at the back of the room, with a softness he found in favor of not making me sadder than I already was–. Just breathe.
There he had ruined it twice, citing my mother’s words as he nodded before my teary eyes. I ended the memory of the Roman Empire while whoever was Constantine XI mocked me in the bliss of ruin.
–What you have is a disease. –He informed me, perhaps thinking that no one had ever told me that already, although the sentence came to me like a knife, as a late realization. He was addressing my friend after.– Take him to drink water. He’ll get over it, it must be because he misses mom, right?
An exhalation was his laughter, after using words without paying attention to his sense, without noticing how inadequate they could be. Then I erased the glimpse of Constantinople from the fog that was my head and left there, shying away from the eyes of every person who noticed me, of them all.
That was a bad day. That was the worst day. The day I couldn’t even say my name and the day I would have the worst grade. Why couldn’t it be yesterday? I was talking so well yesterday, even my mother said, with a hint of a smile peeking out from behind her cup of coffee. Why did I have to exhibit today?
Why do I have to be like this?
It had been that day while groping for the comfort of God’s mercy that I discovered that I was not sick. I discovered that I didn’t hate talking.
I am like this, after all; and I would speak all I wanted. That’s how I worked. And although I would stutter when I said, “The printing press as a consummation of the Middle Ages”, it was true that it was no less when I repeated the letters then.
It was fine, it was not going to be solved, but I was better than that. It was not the stuttering that escaped my mouth, nor the pseudo disease that ate my syllables.
–That was literature and society in Europe and Spain in the twelfth to sixteenth centuries– I dictated, like an employee having successfully promoted a product.
And I heard the clapping of the whole room, and with it came a feeling of victory, since, at the end of it all, I had succeeded. And I extended on the four walls that looked to me as the whole world – that belonged to me – with an air of greatness, sheltering me a blanket of trust that I had found years ago, under the incessant mockery of an exhibition of the Middle Ages.
The printing press as Consummation of the Middle Ages. The acceptance as consummation of what was stuttering in my daily life. I had taken those words, I had squeezed them, I had made them mine. And the memory of the dissertation about the middle ages when I was half my age slowly faded.
–Thank you for listening and giving me the time to speak.
And that phantom weight on my shoulders was the lightest thing I had ever carried.
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