I want a louder voice.

The clock says 1 PM.

 

We’re cramped together, tight like a matchbox, in some random music theory classroom for an English Comp 2 class on a Thursday afternoon.

 

Mr. Breen paces back and forth. “Why do you want to be here? Write it down.”

 

Why do I want to be here?

 

Uh, well, I don’t know, maybe it’s because this a required class to graduate and none of us actually want to sit here and learn how to argue.

 

I probably wrote something nice and pleasant that I don’t remember, and when we were finished we read aloud some of our hopes for the semester.

 

After Erin spoke, Mr. Breen looked at Tim.

 

“Go ahead, Tim.”

 

Tim cleared his throat. “I want a louder voice.”

 

I want a louder voice.

 

Thanks, Tim. You made the rest of us look really shallow and lazy.

 

And I saw the hunger in his eyes, the one I’ve seen in the mirror so many times. He’s not satisfied with this, this half-life where we only deal with answers. He wants his screams to be heard.

 

Oh, Tim. Yelling louder on a sheet of paper or a computer screen won’t make people listen more. Having a louder voice won’t prevent people from buying earplugs if they want them. You can scream as loud as you want, but people will only listen if they want to.

 

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry no one listens. And chances are awfully high that you’ll never read this, but I want you to know that I heard you. And for just a second, the cry of your heart sounded a whole lot like mine.

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