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Teen Fiction: Pen Pals

Ahuva Sofer

I only went to 11 different professionals throughout my life. But, it looks like my stutter is here to stay, at least for now

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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Photo: Shutterstock

Dear Diary,

It’s funny, how life works. My mother, a social worker, whose job it is to solve people’s problems, can’t even solve her own daughter’s problem. I hate it. I hate, hate, my stutter. I mean, it’s not like we didn’t try. I only went to 11 different professionals throughout my life. But, it looks like my stutter is here to stay, at least for now. Presenting Tova Bandman, prisoner of her mouth.

But, my mother actually did give me a good idea, which was a life saver. You see, the stutter thing kind of ate up at my self-confidence, so I don’t have that many friends at school. I hang around a couple of kids who aren’t really my type, but the super normal kids, like Rochel Weiss and Dina Kamanetzky, stick with girls who can actually get a string of sentences out within a span of less than a minute. So here’s where pen and paper come in.

A pen doesn’t stutter. Which is why I do have one very real pen-pal friend my mother introduced to me through some kind of teen project. When I write to my pen pal, Shana Greenspan, I feel like a bird whose shackles were lifted off her wings. I can write and write about how I really feel without a care in the world. And, Shana is so normal. But, here is where my conscience really gets to me. Shana doesn’t know about my stutter. I sound so normal on paper, I almost feel like I’m cheating. I guess it’s just one of those guilt trips I’ll always have. Three cheers for Tova, world’s presiding queen of guilt.

Dear Diary,

So, this is news. Real news. I’m going to meet Shana Greenspan, my pen pal and best friend, for the first time ever. She just emailed that she’s coming from Los Angeles to New York in two days, so of course, we’re going to make up a time and place to see each other for the very first time. I mean, I sort of know what she looks like because she sent me a selfie of herself in a letter, but meeting in person is different. But I’m literally biting my nails. How is she going to react when she meets me for the first time? We’ve never even spoke on the phone, so she totally has no clue about my stutter. I know it’s really silly, but I almost feel like a jeweler caught selling a gold ring that isn’t genuine. But, there’s no use mulling over it. I guess time will tell whether my fears have any basis.

Dear Diary,

When I woke up this morning, I literally felt my stomach doing somersaults. All my excitement about meeting Shana was swallowed up by a big bundle of nerves. After showering, changing the color scheme of my outfit six times — only to go back to my first try — I ran to the kitchen and wolfed down a granola bar and a yogurt. I was supposed to meet Shana at eleven in front of J-II Pizza.

I got there ten minutes early, shivering in the cold as the wind whipped at my wet hair. Finally, a car pulled up right in front of the store. I immediately recognized Shana through the window, from the pictures she sent me. She sat tall and upright, exuding a refreshing combination of vivacity and regality. She looked just as I had imagined her to look in person. A disarming, dimpled smile met sparkling, slightly mischievous green eyes; soft brown curls bounced just past her shoulders. Her mother waved through the window, opened the door for Shana, and then helped her out. They smiled as they approached, while Mrs. Greenspan pushed Shana toward me. An effervescent, ethereal princess, prisoner of her throne.

“H-h-hi,” I managed to smile and stammer.

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