[ TYE-roh ]
- A beginner in learning
- A novice
** Either a story beginning, a story ending, a piece of flash fiction, a poem, painting, dance move—inspired by the word, tyro, where does it take me? Where does it take you? Learn more about “The Word” here.
The doctor came in with the classic words every patient “longs” to hear.
“Emma, I have some good news and some not so good news.”
Emma rolled her eyes, which was about all she could do. A brace around her neck, a sore throat that made her wish she was one of those firey-sword-swallowers, and only one limb not braced up in a stiff cast—her left leg.
“The good news,” her doctor continued, ignoring her sarcastic eye roll, “is that you’re alive. Frankly, it’s a miracle…”
This must be some bad news, she thought, if the only good news is that I’m still alive!
“The accident was obviously devastating.” His concerned glance over her immobile body did not go unnoticed. “So, that leads me to the not so good news.”
Just say bad news, doc. She tried to convey the thought with her eyes, but Emma didn’t think the message landed.
“The piece of metal that tore through your neck, and miraculously missed your spine and major arteries… still did major damage—permanent damage.”
“Meaning, your vocal cords have been damaged beyond repair or use.”
Emma’s eyes froze, locked onto her doctor’s. What does that mean… exactly? She needed to hear him say it. This time, it seemed like he got her unspoken message.
“You’ve lost the ability to use your voice for speech, singing, anything.”
A wave of emotion swept over her from her toes to her head and leaked out of her eyes. She wasn’t a singer or anything—no dreams of being on stage were crushed—but to never be able to speak again? That was just… unimaginable.
“I can’t imagine what you’re thinking right now, Emma. And I can’t even have you write it down. This is not going to be an easy road ahead, but I assure you that myself and the rest of the Hospital staff are going to help make this journey as easy as we can.”
How on earth are they going to do that? More tears fell. She was close to sobbing, but the thought of a deep breath moving down her burning throat made her seize control.
“For now, we’re going to be communicating with simple yes and no questions. It’ll be easy to answer with your eyes that way.”
Emma closed her eyes, feeling the steady tears fall down her cheek, warm against her skin.
“But, also… tomorrow, I have a friend who’s going to come see you. He teaches sign language.”
Emma’s eyes opened and stared at him. How am I going to sign with my arms like this? Again, he seemed to get the message.
“My friend says that to start signing, you don’t need your hands. It’s just a beginning—learning some of the basics.”
Her doctor turned to the door. “Hi, Alma. Come on in.” He turned back to Emma. “Ok… Emma… I need to make a few more rounds this morning. Nurse Cooke here will take good care of you, and I’ll be back in a little while. Again, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news—”
Finally! That’s right… bad news.
“But, we’re here for you. Ok… I’ll see you in a bit.” He turned towards the door and nodded to Alma before leaving.
This is my life now, Emma thought. Like a baby, learning to speak for the first time… again. She closed her eyes, no more tears fell.
When it comes to a word that means “novice,” my mind went to all sorts of things that we can learn for the first time. Chess, piano, guitar… so many possible stories! But, nothing had an excitement or an edge to it.
Here’s a story that begins by taking something we no doubt take for granted and removing it. Now, as Emma thought, she has to start learning to speak all over again.
It makes me think of the book and TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight. It’s a fascinating read and a fascinating TED talk. I recommend both highly!
The connection here is that she suffered a massive stroke that nearly killed her. And then, had to relearn everything. She had to learn how to pick up a spoon again, write again, and so on. What a hurdle she went through to get back to the woman with the Ph.D. in Neuroscience!
Anyway, I imagine this story having a similar connection but following the struggles of communication that come with having no voice, but at the same time using her “voice” like never before.
Wouldn’t that be a great turn in the story? That Emma has to give a speech or stand up in some way like that to overcome some conflict? I think it would be!
What do you think of Tyro?
How would losing the ability to speak change your life?
Leave your thoughts, ideas, your own story beginning/ending, flash-fiction, or whatever in the comments! Where did tyro or my story take you?
If you liked this story, check out my podcast of short stories, More Than A Story.
Today’s word is from Merriam-Webster.
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