Lost Language by Tiah Beautement

FICTION: A lost language to her English lover

A short story by Tiah Beautement


The lost words trail after me like abandoned puppies, scampering here and there. Some of them dig themselves deep into the sand, solidifying into rock. Their rough shapes gradually sculpted by wind and water, remnants crumbling to sand. The remains will resemble memories. History born. Myths will evolve. Tales told.
But not by my lips.

Perhaps by yours?

Another word drops to join the rest. It scampers off, free. Will you rescue it? Probably not. Those that die are rarely resurrected. Our dreams narrow, sharpen, but do not necessarily gain clarity. But how do I explain this to you? You, who cannot – Will not? Choose not? – understand me. How I mourn each passing phrase that you cannot possibly comprehend.

You are beautiful. Punctuated. Expansive. Plenteous. It is hard to complain without sounding bitter, spiteful.

Another word plops to the ground. It spreads itself wide, absorbed by the shades of sand it once described. Ice and its brethren join it, until the snow nips the heels. So playful, yet you gobble, gobble like a brainless turkey. I’ve heard of them, you know.

You enchanted me with your power, your mighty expanse. Promise dripped from your golden skin, drop by drop, until your translucent underbelly was exposed. But it was too late.




Nonsense, you say? It is, I admit. A sound captured on the crest of a wave, begging to be released. But honestly, are they really any more ridiculous than bow-wow, hee-haw and cock-a-doodle-do?

Describe me red, without saying red.

Tell me love, without saying love,

Show me compassion without ever uttering it.

Serendipity, you said. The romance such a word brings, with much more grace and silk than happenstance. But it was enough to allow your lips to press up against mine. Our tongues touched. Initially with mutual interest, until yours dominated mine. I couldn’t move. Your large hands, gripping my shoulders, held me fast until I was breathless. One let go to cup my breast, pluck the nipple and tease. I allowed you to shower me with such attention. With unwavering focus you roamed, coating me with your scent, fingers dipping into every crevice. You stretched me wide, entered deep. I absorbed your seed.

Afterward, you stroked my cheek. My head rested against your chest. You began to speak. The words seem bold, blunt. They boomed off the floor, slammed against the walls, blanketed the room. They amused. Uncultured, untamed, like laughter of a child, they seemed to hold little threat. A game. A toy. What harm could there be in humouring you? I began to echo your tones, cadence. I watched as these new words darted after your own. They lacked a lyrical ring, which skirts the shore with rapid whispering steps. Yet there was something fitting with the plodding bricks that you thrust out from your neck.

Plonk. Bang. Clank. Thump.

I laughed, and tried your words again. You guided me through each point, flattening my vowels, clipping my beat.

I smiled, believing we were learning to communicate. Brought forth my own rhythms. Gently I presented them, rounding each shape, allowing each one time to fully expand before bring forth the next. But your mouth never attempted to mimic my own. Instead you tipped me back onto the sheets and rose. Pressing your thumb against my bottom teeth, you widened my jaw. Sealing your lips tightly over mine, you inhaled. My voice popped from my lungs and sank into your belly. You pulled away, tucking your hand behind your head. With a satisfied smirk, you belched.  With disbelief I watched my voice rise up, out the window, into the sky. Higher and higher it climbed, until it was scorched by the sun.

Where was I to run? This was my home. Nowhere else but here knew my name. So I curled my toes around the soil, hoping to find purchase.

Your seed grew in my belly, widening my flesh. Perhaps I should have killed it. But how was I to know? At the time, I regarded my sore throat as a temporary ailment. Not once allowing it to distract from my enchantment at the changing shape of self, the flex of pitch. Not once did I glance behind and note the trailing words gathering. I admired the sheen of my skin, stretching out like a map. Lines crossed, an ancient script etching itself into my womb. I studied it with relentless optimism.

I laboured with ease. I gave him a name that sounded much like Hope. I fed him at my breast. Bathed him with my hands. Carried him with my feet. He was raised with nothing but the best intentions. There was so little left. Yet the ashes of my voice held a spark which I truly believed would ignite his young mind.

But as soon as he could walk he toddled after your wider feet, your longer stride. He breathed in your stories, coloured brightly and presented with such charm and charisma. Friendly. Your son trusted those words as if they were baked with promise. He didn’t know you’d already lined your chests with the wealth of our soil and packed them off to far away lands. He worked hard, as you’d tutored. Waited, as advised. Time ticks onwards, with the prize brushing his fingertips. ‘Next year, mama, it will be mine.’

Next year.

They pass faster than your speech. Each one rubbing out a bit more of me. Until one day he claimed to not know who I am.

So now I walk this shore alone. The words trailing behind, wrestling each other to the ground. They only have each other to play with. No one else hears their barks, delighted yips. No one else can toss a stick, or give them a scratch behind the ears. For how do you see what cannot be spoken?

You crushed my name.

Now my lips can only utter yours.



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