I’m the first person the women talk to when they call in lost and looking for support.

Some of them sound broken.  Like the one’s whose voices are whispered.  Their words waver and they sound weathered, like at any moment their legs may decide the weight that has been piling up is too much, and crumple.  Like Victoria, and her little fuzzy slippers that always seem to miss their place on solid ground, and which barely support her already frail corpse.  They whisper to keep God and anyone else from hearing, because the validation of another’s ears would make the situation real, would turn a mirror on them and what’s been happening.  They whisper to explain the hell hole that they’ve found themselves in, it’s a deep and rocky crevice, and they didn’t arrive with carabiners or harnesses.  They whisper because things are bleak and they have lost the power and purpose in their voices, someone or something has taken it out of them. Someone has beaten the power out of them, hungry for it themselves; they consume it, sucking out every last drop of independence, self-worth, and freedom along the way. Something has sucked the power out of them: the chemicals absorbed into their bodies, chemicals they use to numb, and escape, chemicals that eat up much more than inhibitions. What’s left is a frail and meek body with a soft and broken voice, praying that with the slow and unsteady steps, and the hushed and muffled sound she can remain hidden; a message to the others that there’s no power or purpose left to be extracted.

Then there are those that are broken, but hardened.  The stiff and strong sounding women that remind me of a defensive cat with its back arched.  The cat is surrounded by humans that are eight times taller and ten times bigger, its claws have recently been trimmed, and physically it knows that, despite its anger, it’s weak.  Yet, it arches its back as a display of ferocity, power and capability, all the characteristics it does not possess.  On the inside the women are shattered and to themselves their voices whisper and waver.  But sometimes in my ear I hear brave forceful assertions as they lift up their back and build up a protective brick wall around them, one that love, niceties and brutality cannot permeate.  It’s a voice capable of constructing a wall, reassuring people that she’s not broken, and warning off other potential parasites.  It’s a voice that’s lonely and begging for someone to find a ladder and help.

Sure, I’m a receptionist, but I’m also an expert in voices.

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