by Esther Suson
There were only about four customers in Serendipity internet cafe including the girl. One was a young boy, maybe five or six, with his father; the other was one she only knew as a gamer-boy junior from her university.
While she was printing her thesis draft, and doing a bit of web surfing on the side, she heard a voice, clear and carrying and with that full bell-like quality that one in a million public speakers have and all would kill for. The voice swelled low and round like a perfect note. It was the kind of voice one forgets to understand, because they were too busy listening to the voice itself. The voice came from the other side of the middle line of computers – and three of the four customers were on one side.
Surely someone else had come in, she thought. It could not be that underclassman who could not look anyone in the eye when he’d first met her, surrounded by friends though he was, and she the only outsider. He had not even turned fully to the standing group at that time, he’d had one foot always turning out as if ready to flee. He’d barely spoken above a whisper. It could not be he, carrying on a game while on the headset with a friend, with a voice so beautiful that all of them on the other side glanced up when he spoke. It could not be he.
She picked up her printed draft, paid her terminal time, and left, casually glancing backwards.
It was as she had seen it last, one young man alone at a terminal, a headset over his ears. And as she stepped out, that clear, full voice followed her, devoid of the slang that rode most boys’ tongues during games – she was no stranger to those. It was an honest voice, so much so that the affection in it for the one he was speaking to was fully on the surface. There was that lilt to his voice that is an unspoken query of well-being, with that richness underlying it that betrays to any listener that the speaker cares for the one he is speaking to. While in many others that lilt does not stay past the greeting, as social reserve takes over the initial openness, for him it was not anything to be hidden, and throughout the conversation, it carried through in every word spoken.
At that moment, leaving the shop, she realized the brilliance of the Designer. All that that underclassman signaled, with cast-down eyes and a way of moving that made most others awkward in his presence, ensured that very few would find his heart, and be spoken to by him in that way. It was shield and weapon to him, because when a person has a voice with no lie in it, the wolves come down in short order if his temperament allows it. Instead, unsure how to speak with strangers, nervous in large crowds, the Voice that Has No Lie does not speak except to those who have won his trust, and with his heart in his voice they receive a prize greater than any they could win in any other.