Speaking in Tongues 8

The following morning, Claire broke from her routine of preparing for work in silence, turning her television to the local Spanish language station. She had studied the language for a couple of years in high school, retaining little other than the words to “Jingle Bells” (Navidad, Navidad, hoy es Navidad). This would be a test of the talent she had mirculously gained yesterday.

“Good morning.” The news anchor’s face turned suddenly serious. “Hundreds of citizens gathered outside city hall last night to protest the proposed civic budget — ”

It was all the proof she needed, but as she turned from the television Claire left it on, her understanding of the language being spoken reinforcing her confidence in the decision she had reached while lying in bed the previous evening.

For the first time she could recall, Claire looked forward to her bus ride that morning. She made eye contact with the elderly Asian man as she passed (he looked away quickly as she smiled, as if snakes had grown from her hair), and took her seat behind two forty-ish women wearing babushkas. They sat in stern-faced silence for several minutes, Claire sensing her opportunity for further testing her skill was passing. But then the woman on the right asked for the time, and her companion pulled on her sleeve to look at her watch.

“Eight forty-seven.” The bus brakes hissed to another stop. “It only seems like we’ve been on this damn bus for an hour.”

She gave the time in English, but then she spoke in — whatever. Claire was certain, and delighted at the discovery of this new twist in her talent.

Minutes later, she arrived at her stop, and made her way quickly to her office. Or rather, her boss’ office. He was sitting at his desk, reading a report, and looked up pleasantly when Claire stepped into his doorway. She asked if she could come in, and he waved her in.

She reached into her soft briefcase, pulled out the single sheet of paper she had printed in her apartment the evening before, and extended it towards her boss.

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