Thursday, March 27, 2008


Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore. Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore. Good. Now hold the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth and make the /s/ sound. Keep going. Good job.

Junia had a speech impediment growing up, was pulled out of her fourth grade class twice a week to meet in a tiny room to the side of the library, to have a speech therapist take away her lisp. The lisp had developed from the day her big teeth had settled to grow in crooked with a large gap in between. The tip of Junia's tongue would grow sore; she could never stop slipping it in and out of the gap. The space between those two front teeth was wide enough to make her self conscience when smiling, but she did so anyways-she laughed so much.

No one in Junia's family had ever taught her to be embrassed of herself, but she had reason to fear that if the curse of the lisp was not removed, she would forever spit in the face of her company while sounding out the /s/. Junia's family never teased her at home. Junia's friends never teased her at school. Junia did not know why she had to leave while the class had free play. But Junia would walk out, through the halls peeping her head into the doors that had been left open, using up any time she could to prolong her meeting with the speech therapist. Luckily Junia was not alone. She had a companion, with the same problem, except she couldn't pronounce the /r/ sound. Junia and the other girl would take turns hearing each other struggle to make the sound that the other found so easily to do. The therapist would hold a flash card with a picture of a rowboat.

Hold the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and make the /r/ sound. Feel the vibration on the roof of your mouth. Good. Now make a circle with lips. Blow out. Good. Now tell me what this is a picture of.

Junia would try not to look while the other girl would attempt to force her mind to say something her mouth could not sound out. Woahboat, the other girl would say, Woahboat.
Junia would practice sounding out Rowboat in her head while trying to figure out why it was such a hard sound for the other girl to make.

Junia quickly learned that the more she read aloud at home while being aware of the placement of her tongue, the less evil she would find the /s/. Her meetings with the speech therapist went down to once a week. Great times were upon Junia, for she convinced herself that she had been cured. There was just one little problem.

When Junia looked in the mirror, all she could see was the space between her teeth.

(If you laughed or giggled at the end of this little story, then I have succeeded. Tonight, for some odd reason, I found myself placing my tongue behind my two front teeth, and was instantly reminded of the lisp I had growing up. I'd always thought it was funny how I never really talked about it to many people. I began remembering what a sad feeling I would get when I had to leave class to work on a "problem" that I had with the way I talked, and thought I'd share it in a playful way. While writing this, I had it in mind that I wanted to write it as if it were a kids book. I still find myself adjusting my tongue when I know I'm going to pronounce the /s/, and thought it would be interesting to write it using "Junia" as the character. I've actually never used my name in a story when writing in the third person, so I had a lot of fun. Let me remind you, everything I write here is nothing close to a finished piece (unless I tell you). I write whatever comes to me without editing, so don't expect anything great from a little story about my lisp!)


Anonymous said...

Your short story made me laugh and cry at the same time, it put me back in fourth grade when I was thrown in a regular english class without speaking a word of english, all I could say was "No hablo ingles". Es muy divertido.

Gabe said...

Nice story. I never even knew you used to have a lisp. Reminded me of how I also used to be really self conscious about the gap in my teeth. I like when you give background on why you chose a to write a particlar piece. I'm like you and always enjoy getting a peek into the creative process.