A Voice to be Heard

Posted: May 26, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

‘Bottled-up-syndrome’: A self diagnosis of emotional termoil Nancy gave herself from a young age.

Like a bottle of champagne, the more you shook it, the more aggravated her already explosive contents would become. Sooner or later the cork would shoot from the bottle’s neck and explode into an angry frothing foam of confusion, spilling everywhere that had oxygen, before going flat and lifeless.

Nancy remembered being bullied at school from a very early age, by an older girl stealing her lunch money and calling her derogatory names. What little self confidence she did have, was soon knocked out of her. The bullying progressed into physical attacks in the playground. It wasn’t until the teacher called her parents, to say Nancy hadn’t been bringing in her lunch money for nearly three weeks, that they realised there was a problem. When her parents questioned Nancy about the missing lunch money, Nancy’s emotions exploded. Anger and heartache fused together to make a very unhappy little person. The bully was reprimanded, but by this time Nancy’s emotional shield was in a bad state of repair.

* * *

Nancy looked out of the office window, traffic bustling past on the main road outside, like busy ants, trundling to different locations to gather food. She solemnly hated every minute she sat in this office chair, a rigid piece of plastic which was questionably cushioned, but it was a form of unlabelled torture.

She constantly grew frustrated with colleagues and her boss, who never seemed to listen to her ideas and always made her feel like the little girl in the playground again. They bypassed her in meetings, forgot she was there during telephone conference calls and sometimes acted like she didn’t have an opinion or a say in the way things were done. She had spent the whole morning, being talked over in a meeting. Everytime she wanted to contribute, her ideas were barely looked at. Colleagues smiled at her to be polite, but they were china doll smiles. They didn’t see her as an equal.

As soon as the meeting had finished, she headed straight to the ladies toilets. She shut the cubical door and breathed. It was like she had been in a World record competition for holding her breath for the longest time possible. She could feel the lava in her head gradually simmering; bubbling and boiling hot red lava. She sat huddled up in a ball, breathing steadily and wiggling her toes, which would remind her she was there; she did matter; and she would be ok. The Bottled Up Syndrome would not take hold of her this time.

Emotions to Nancy were like vegetables to young children. She knew she had to have them, but they were unbearable and something she tried to avoid on a daily basis. She sat still stewing from the mornings meeting, only to find herself involved in yet another one which took the same pattern.

She sat trying to put forward her ideas, but to no avail. Her teeth became gritted and almost rigid. Her eyes were burning from the anguish she was feeling, now not only to be ignored but to be spoke about as if she wasn’t in the room, that alone sitting next to the person. Her fingers tingled and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled slightly like those on a cactus.

Nancy suddenly leapt from her chair. She grabbed the nearest flip-chart pen in reach and wrote on the wall in bold red letters, what she was really feeling and turned to look at the room full of silent and startled colleagues.

Now they had to listen and for once in her life she had everyone’s full attention. She could see each person in turn begin to read the graffiti on the wall in front of them and she felt elated:


  1. sonia says:

    Ohh it has to be very difficult for a mute person to be heard.

  2. FARfetched says:

    I hope they start paying attention now.

  3. adampb says:

    Loved the opening imagery portrayed of the champagne bottle.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  4. ThomG says:

    Very well told. I think everyone expects those who are mute not to have the sames thoughts and feelings as the hearing and speaking. It’s an odd prejudice, I think, one you captured in such great detail.

  5. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Even people who aren’t mute are sometimes subjected to this kind of treatment, so I can only imagine how awful it must be for those who are. Poor Nancy.

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