Yes, it’s true that I have done bad things. Awful things. But can you really blame me? My illness had spread through my limbs like water off a cliff, penetrating each and every nerve, clipping them so I felt nothing. Even now, I feel nothing.
I had heard the voice of God and it was sweet! In my dream, he called out to me, opening those warm embracing arms for his child to come to him. I obeyed his call like a lamb to the slaughter. But, please, don’t judge me so harshly. How can one resist God’s beckoning?
There are plenty of reasons why I did what I did. But my main justification for my crimes was that I was humiliated.
Yes, you read correctly. I was humiliated. Before you judge me so quickly, I must tell you why. Only then can you punish me.
It was 9:21am on September 7th, 1987, when I learnt the wickedness of people. At the back of the classroom, thirteen-year-old me, happy and excited for life, sat diligently in his seat, waiting for the lesson to begin. I had arrived on time, wearing my smartest shirt and ironed shorts which rested just below my nobly knees. On my desk, I had colour coordinated my highlighters around the blank pieces of paper which eagerly waited for notes to be scribbled on it.
Oh, friend, I can’t tell you how excited I was to start secondary school. I mean, the first day in a new year group is exhilarating for anyone. But it was extra special for me. Mother had home schooled me up until this point, so I had never stepped foot inside of a public school. I was joining secondary school late in comparison to the other children, but it didn’t bother me at all. I was thrilled to enter the real world, much to my mother’s disapproval.
“Good morning, Class 9a.” A strong, booming voice had filled the room. My eyes had snapped in the direction of a very tall, smartly dressed man. I remember frowning at the furry thing on the top of his lip which moved as he spoke.
“Welcome to year nine. Only two years left of your secondary school education. No more pissing around this year.” He had cursed as his cold eyes cast over the students. I flinched at this surprising introduction. I couldn't help but wonder what my mother would think of his crude language. Three spanks with her slipper, I had imagined.
“For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting me, this is your lucky day.” He had announced sarcastically, “Though, unfortunately for me, I recognise a couple of you.”
There was a deafening silence. I held my breath. Then, those unwelcoming, beady orbs landed on me.
“Who are you?” His lip curled upwards and his eyes darkened.
Instantly, I threw myself to my feet and stood tall and proud. This was my opportunity to introduce myself to the class, and make lots of friends, just like mother had told me. Albeit, it was not the ideal situation I had dreamt about the night before.
“M-my n-name i-i…” I tried to introduce myself, but my stutter quickly claimed my words. I smiled brightly, taking a small pause and a deep breath like mother had taught me. I closed my eyes to regain my thoughts.
“My n-name is c-cam-cam-cam Cameron.” I happily corrected myself with a wide beam.
I had re-opened my eyes, expecting to see lots of excited faces and smiles. I was wrong. Well, there were smiles, but also sniggering and pointing. The once excited smile on my lips quickly vanished as my head snapped around at the sea of giggling faces.
“W-what?” I had gawped. My hands shot up to my face and I clawed away, afraid there was something on my face which was causing the mockery.
“He has a stutter!” One child had yelled.
“N-nice t-to meet you, Cam,cam,cam, Cameron!” Another jeered which received even more giggles. My frown became much more defined, and a horrified blush kissed my cheeks. Tears welled up in my hot face and I began trembling. Distressed, I turned to look at the teacher, hoping he would help me. But he didn’t. That awful man even joined in laughing!
Reader, you must understand, that before that very lesson, that very hour, that very minute, my stutter didn’t affect me. I didn’t even know it was something worth pointing out!
I had learnt very quickly, very harshly, that my voice couldn’t be trusted. Every time I tried to speak, my words became jumbled up and the mockery around me grew.
From that moment onwards, I swore to myself I would never make another sound. I had lost the right of sound. I would work in silence.
But when I told my mother about my first day, through writing it down on a crumbled piece of paper, she was mortified. Quickly, she pulled me out of that school, and I was back into home-school teaching.
However, friend, much to my mother’s ignorance, I never stopped attending that school. Sure, I wasn’t alongside the other students in the rows of seats in the classroom. But I was there, just outside the window, hiding behind a tree... observing. When the window was open, I could hear everything in that classroom. At the time, I didn’t know what had possessed me to do such things. Now I realise, I was setting myself up for revenge. Revenge was the illness which claimed my small body.
One day, as I sat, crunched down next to my usual spying spot, surrounded by scratchy bushes, that very teacher had announced something which gripped me.
“Today, we are going to learn about the voice box.” He had announced. For the first time, I was exhilarated to hear him speak. I shuffled closer to the window, masked by the leaves, so I could watch as he paced around the classroom. It was this lesson which I had repeated to myself over and over during my revenge.
And now I will tell you how I committed this perfect crime.
A small, but sharp, knife in my steady fingers, my victim wriggling around in the chair, tape over his mouth. Like he had done to me, I would now take away his voice.
When the news got out about what i had done, people had the nerve to say that I was in a fit of hysteria, that I was uncontrolled. Not guilty by reasons of insanity, that’s what they tried to suggest at my trial. They argued what sane person would murder their secondary school teacher, twenty years later?
But it’s nonsense. Could a madman move with that precision, with that swiftness? No- it’s not possible! Listen closely my friend, I am not mad, but I am madly skilled.
I proceeded with caution, such caution that you wouldn’t understand. In one hand, my trusty knife, in the other, a dim lantern which filled the room with splinters of warm light. I can still remember the smell of sweat, the sweet, tainted smell of iron, and soapy water drifting around the damp-covered basement. In the middle of the room, strapped to a rusty, metal chair, my teacher.
It doesn’t matter how I got him there, all that matters is the event which followed.
Even just thinking about his wide eyes, glistening with tears, frown lines etched deeply into his forehead, and paling skin, I’m trembling with excitement. His head was snatched backwards and restrained by belts, forcing his neck into the air. I had grinned when his Adam’s apple bobbed as I stepped closer.
The larynx, or voice box, is located in the neck and performs several important functions in the body, I had repeated the words from his lesson twenty years prior, in my head. He had tried to groan in protest when I put the lantern on the table and stroked his neck.
Then, I picked up a black marker pen and drew a box on his protruding neck.
The larynx is involved in swallowing, breathing, and voice production, I smiled as I sung the words in my head.
Quickly, I swapped the pen back for the knife. The first slice into his neck had me trembling with excitement. Carefully, with the precision of a surgeon, the knife in my fingers followed my drawing on his neck.
Sound is produced when the air which passes through the vocal cords causes them to vibrate and create sound waves in the pharynx, nose and mouth.
The man gurgled in agony underneath my knife. With a mocking grin, I lifted my finger to my lips, quietly telling him I want to work in silence. Absolute silence: the same kind he forced me into for twenty years. His eyes grew wider and the horror danced around on his sweaty skin.
The pitch of sound is determined by the amount of tension on the vocal folds.
The flap of skin unravelled itself over his Adam’s apple. I had licked my lips. He flailed around in the restraints, the metal chains singing their song as they bash against the chair.
Laryngectomy is the removal of all or part of the voice box (larynx).
Only then did my fingers begin to shake as I stretched out and touched the ribbed, fleshy looking thing. I could feel the vibrations of sound bouncing around. Then, I lifted my knife and pierced his voice box. One swift moment ended all his noisy protesting.
Satisfied, I took a step backwards and peered around the room to the dozens of other victims, restrained and voice-box-less. A grin licked my face, and I placed my knife down on the table in satisfaction. In that beautiful silence, my entire class watched me with wide eyes.
You must understand, my dearest reader, that now, without the distraction of voice boxes, we could continue our learning, without mockery.
Together, we could all work in silence.