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The Power of our Words

When I was 6 years old, I told anyone who would listen I was going to be a scientist and a writer. At 8, one of my aunts asked me to write a poem for my grandparents' anniversary party. I was so excited! I worked all day on a poem lamenting how young people resisted their grandparents' wisdom only to find they were right all along. I wrote and re-wrote until I felt it was perfect, then I rushed to get my work to my aunt before the party.

I watched her expression change from amusement to confusion. She handed the paper back to me.

"Uhm…it's a little weird. Can you write something else?"

I was crushed.

"I…can't write…anything else," I sputtered.

She shrugged and walked away. She hadn't meant to but that aunt's words planted a seed in my mind that told me my words had no place. I hid the poem in a drawer and I continued to hide my writing for years.

The weird girl became the even weirder teenager who thrived on dark literature, movies and music. Only they didn't seem weird to me. These were people like me. Their words connected us despite distance and gave me a feeling of belonging I didn't have with those who physically surrounded me. Their words kept me tethered in the rough times because I knew no matter how I felt, there were indeed persons who had gone through the same things and survived.

I eventually grew comfortable in my own weird skin but I still hid my words. I hid them so well that when I showed my husband a story I had written, he stared at me shock.

"You wrote this?"

"Yeah…why?"

"You have a way with words. You should send it to the newspaper and see if they'll print it."

I laughed. Didn't he know no-one wanted to hear what I had to say? Still he persisted, so I sent the story in and my heart almost exploded in my chest when it was published. It gave me the courage to venture into international markets in August of 2015.

I still battle with that little voice telling me my words mean nothing but I don't believe it as easily anymore. I show my words to the world because my own experience tells me someone out there needs them. Someone needs to snicker at that strange joke or follow the exploits of that main character who just isn't like everybody else. More importantly, someone needs to feel a connection with the person behind those words.

To those who still struggle to find that type of connection, don't give up. You are never as alone as you think you are. And to those with words burning in your heart, let them out. There is someone out there who desperately needs them. Never believe that your words mean nothing. It simply isn't true.

About the Author
Karen Heslop has been a submissions reader for Empyreome since November 2016. She writes from Kingston, Jamaica. Her stories have been published or are upcoming in a Devolution Z anthology, 101 Words Magazine, Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, The Flash Fiction Press, The Nine Tales Series, Speculative 66, Cemetery Moon, Phantaxis Magazine, Bloodbond Magazine, The Blotter Mag, Black Girl Lit Mag, Yellow Mama and Bards and Sages Quarterly. You can follow her tweets at @kheslopwrites.
Background image by ESO/IDA/Danish 1.5 m/R.Gendler, J-E. Ovaldsen, C. Thöne, and C. Feron.
http://www.eso.org/public/images/etamosaicnm2/, CC BY 4.0, Link