“Have you ever heard of the power of words?”
He sounds like some sort of Jehovah’s Witness, standing there on the sidewalk with his books hugged tight to his chest, staring at her with eyes so impossibly wide.
“Have you ever heard of the power of words?” he asks again when she doesn’t answer.
His shaggy hair is falling in face, his knuckles are splotched white. His eyes are so wide.
She can’t speak.
So he does.
“Think about it,” he says.
“When you send a kid to school, before they go to learn geometry and social studies and all of that, they go to learn words.
“Without words, they wouldn’t be able to learn any of that stuff in the first place.
“When you send a kid to school, you are sending them to learn that CAT starts with C and TOY starts with T and BOAT starts with B. You are sending them to learn that these are words, and words make up the world around them.
“Children learn the alphabet, and they learn that the alphabet makes up words, and they learn that words make up the universe.
“These simple words like CAT and TOY and BOAT become bigger words, that become sentences, that become books and poems and plays and theses.
“These simple words become Plato, and Voltaire, and Shakespeare.”
She’s getting it now.
“The words that kids learn in school will someday go on to be the words used in a marriage proposal.
“The words used to name a brand new baby.
“The words used to write a speech that will forever change history.
“Words have the power to make someone laugh. To make someone scowl. To make someone cry.
“Words have the power to persuade, to argue, to profess love.
“Words have the power to portray any emotion, any feeling.
“Words are the most powerful force in the entire world.
“Words are love. They are happiness. They are comfort, shelter, warmth. Words are knowledge.
“Without words, the world would not exist.
“Deals would not be made, issues would not be discussed. Ideas would not be formed.
“Without words, there would be no communication.
“There would be no culture.
“There would be no learning, no teaching, no knowledge.
“Without words, there would be no world.”
She is speechless.
“Have you ever heard of the power of words?” he asks again.
And this time, she understands.