Fill in the Blanks by Terveen Gill

When the baby was born, it cried in fits and starts like a car engine sputtering to life on a cold, winter morning, stalling several times before it bellowed its frustration. Being the first child of an inexperienced mother, the boy’s peculiarity was mistaken as a newborn characteristic.

But when the baby’s cries didn’t improve and he gradually grew into a speaking toddler, his speech reflected the same gaps and unexpected pauses. When the boy wanted a hug, he’d throw open his arms and say – Mama, give me ____. Or when he was hungry, he’d point at the refrigerator and crow – Mama, Mama, I ____ some ____.

At first, the mother thought her son’s gestures and words were adorable, an innocent attempt at making conversation. But with the passing years as the boy’s limbs grew, his speaking skills saw no improvement.

The woman no longer considered a five-year-old boy who ate up half his words a delightful sight and she reprimanded him with stiff words and grim facial expressions. The confused boy couldn’t understand the swing in his mother’s behavior, so he placed his hands on his hips and hollered at the top of his voice – Mama! What’s ____ you?! I don’t ____!

Then came the tears and the trembling lip and the mother’s sternness simply melted away. The woman immediately made an appointment with the town’s only speech therapist. Twenty years of experience would have to mean something.

The man was tall with a pleasant face and his words were clearer than a crisp summer’s day. He sat down with the boy and looked him straight in the eye.

‘Your mother tells me you speak in half-sentences. Where are the other halves hiding?’

Neither blinked an eye nor took an extra breath. The boy leaned in with the fiercest scowl on his face – You’re ____ man. I ____ you. The other halves ____ your ____.

The therapist shook his head and looked at the boy’s mother.

‘What did he just say?’

A nervous laugh couldn’t replace the woman’s shame as she filled in the blanks.

‘You’re a mean man. I hate you. The other halves are in your pants.’

The man sat more stunned than offended. He looked at mother and child and then at the ceiling.

‘There’s no doubt I can help this boy. But not even God can help this interpreter.’

23 comentarios sobre “Fill in the Blanks by Terveen Gill

  1. What a surprise ending. Haha. Actually I heard from my relatives that one of my distant relatives is like this. She habitually swallowed every last word of routinely used phrases–one word for each sentence. People always told her that she did that deliberately, but nobody could tell for sure whether it’s a sickness or a deliberate attempt at grabbing attention.

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    1. Haha! That’s quite close to this story. I think the mind works in so many fascinating ways and this could definitely be one of the flaws that it may experience. Abnormal ways are often viewed with skepticism. Thanks so much for your sharing. I am always intrigued. 🙂

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  2. What a wonderful tale about the stories we create, and how they then become our lived reality. Narratives are powerful, and though this is how humans make sense of their world, when we are aware of how stories operate, we can investigate our stories for validity and reliability, and make choices about the stories we keep and the ones we let go of. Loved this story, Terveen. ☺️

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    1. I love that ideology, Jeff. It’s true, storytelling is really about putting problems out there and learning how to solve them. We retain what we wish to and let go of the rest. Thank you so much for the wise words. Awesome! 🙂

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  3. This is kind of a sweet story in an odd way. The mother got use to over functioning for the boy and instead of getting him help earlier she liked to fill in the puzzle herself. Perhaps she was the one who needed help, she didn’t have anything else to do. I don’t know how you come up with your stories but they are very entertaining and interesting. I am always thinking wait for it – wait for it, and you never disappoint. Pretty funny ending, the doctor noticed right away she was the sick one the boy just got use to his mama talking for him. Very funny story Terveen. Big hugs, Joni

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    1. I love how you analyze this, Joni. The mother did make it her personal duty to complete her son’s words. Maybe that’s why he didn’t get out of the habit. I know that none of us wish to be blamed for another’s faults and shortcomings, and a parent could never bear such an accusation. But that’s the reason so many parents continue making the mistakes they do. Thanks so much! Sorry for the very late reply. 🙂

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      1. Thank you Terveen. I think you are absolutely right about this. Without knowledge or education we don’t change. Please don’t ever apologize for being late, I wonder how you are able to accomplish so much with a regular job, wow. Have an amazing Sunday and hope you get to relax a bit. Big hugs, Joni

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