“Let me see you,” he said, as he cocked his head and squinted his eyes. He slowly circled me, staring intently and making thoughtful little noises.
I shifted my weight and lifted my shoulders slightly, trying not to fidget but feeling increasingly overwhelmed by his curious intensity. Who knew that being seen would be such an uncomfortable thing?
“Where’s her file?” he called over his shoulder. Suddenly a young man was there, handing over a thick folder. Where did he come from? And what was in that file?
The examiner busied himself with the file, occasionally glancing up at me or making more of those little grunts. I wanted to see the file too, but it didn’t seem like a good idea to ask.
“There’s an unusual number of tests annotated in here”, the examiner said to the file clerk.
“Yes. She is a Class 1 Carrier assigned to the Light Warrior forces.”
The examiner flipped back to the first page in the file and then looked up at me. “That’s a tough training regimen.”
He seemed to expect a response from me, but I was lost. I had no idea what either of them were talking about.
“Do you know why you’re here?” the examiner asked.
I shook my head slightly. I couldn’t seem to find my voice.
“Speak up!” He barked, his tone more forceful than before.
I cleared my throat and tried to respond, but I couldn’t seem to croak out anything more than a hoarse “no sir”, and even that left me coughing. Each effort to speak sounded faint and strained.
He stepped closer, until he was only inches in front of me. His face, while still stern, softened. His eyes were serious, but not unkind.
“That is why. In order to increase your efficiency, we need to deal with your voice.”
I opened my mouth to try to apologize. He cut me off swiftly.
“No. This is not about what you did or did not do. You were born with this condition. All Carriers are. The repair has already been ordered and paid for. The procedure is very brief, but you may find recovery a challenge because you are accustomed to accommodating a lack that will no longer exist. Are you ready?”
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I was ready. I was scared. I didn’t know what a Carrier was, I didn’t know what a Light Warrior was, I didn’t know who these two men were, and I didn’t know what they were going to do to me. Nevertheless, I found myself nodding my head and whispering “yes”.
“Is the adjuster here?” the examiner asked the file clerk. No sooner had he asked than the presence of someone–or something–became evident in the room. I couldn’t see whomever it was, but I could feel a strange heat and vibration that hadn’t been there moments before. I heard a voice began to give directions.
“Turn down the lights. Engage the illuminator.”
At the same moment it registered that I’d heard a voice speak but not with my ears, it suddenly became pitch black in the room. My heart began to race with panic. Whatever was happening was happening quickly, and I didn’t understand it.
“Peace,” the voice said, and once again I realized that I was hearing something clearly and yet my ears were registering silence in the room. And yet my heart rate began to calm, and my muscles began to relax. I felt a little nervous, but I was no longer afraid.
Suddenly streaks and bands of brilliant light began to arc through the room. The light had color– fiery reds and oranges, rich blues and purples, vibrant greens and golds. It danced wildly, as if it had a life of its own.
“Would you like me to turn that down?” the examiner asked the adjuster.
“No. Increase it, and throughout recovery you must keep increasing it further.”
When the adjuster said to increase it, whatever “it” was, the light began to move faster and faster until it became an enormous vibration that seemed to be one with his voice. The vibration wrapped itself around me and a warmth began to flow through me, concentrating on my throat and mouth. Even the warmth was pulsating.
I wondered what was causing the light show in the room. I heard a soft chuckle. “That’s you. Look at your hands.”
I looked down and gasped. It was me. Light was swirling, sparking, and arcing off of me, and the light that flew off my hands was so brilliant that I could barely stand to look at it. It suddenly occurred to me that the adjuster had answered a question I had not asked, but only thought.
“Yes, I can hear you. And you can hear me. This surprises you? Now,” the adjuster said, seeming to change the subject, “I want you to use your voice to match the vibration you hear.”
I wasn’t sure how to do that. I closed my eyes and listened to the vibration, and then I began to softly hum.
“You’re getting it. Now keep the vibration but try some words.”
My mouth began to form words that flowed with the light and the vibration. It took a lot of focus to keep them matched, but I could at least make some sounds. As I made the sounds, I could see that the light that was streaking through the rest of my body and out my hand was now also shooting out of my mouth as I spoke small words and phrases.
“Excellent work, sir,” the examiner said. “There was very little flow through there before. This is much better. And she didn’t lose anything from her hands.”
“No, I intend for her hands to retain full power. Her hands were never meant to be a coping tool or a measure of compromise. They have been powerful place-holders, and as the voice increases, so will the flow through the hands. See that her recovery provides exercises to bring balance between the two, however. You may turn on the lights and disengage the illuminator now.”
As quickly as the room got dark, it became light again. I could still feel the adjuster in the room, but the lights and colors had disappeared. I wondered what had happened to them.
“Use your voice.” The command was firm.
I opened my mouth, and focusing on matching the vibration, I formed the question: “Where did the light go?”
The examiner answered. “The light is still there, still in you exactly the same way it was moments ago. But since the room is no longer dark, your eyes are unable to see it.”
Disappointed, I momentarily closed my eyes and sighed. When I opened them I was in the produce department of a grocery store where a frazzled young woman with red-rimmed eyes was frantically trying to juggle a bag of oranges that had ripped open and was spilling its roly-poly contents all over the floor.
I bent over and picked up two oranges that had rolled towards my feet and began to walk towards her.