A Frightening Moment

One cold, grey afternoon not too long ago, I was sitting in class as usual. We were discussing On the Nature of Things by Lucretius, and my teacher wanted us to read a passage out loud. I raised my hand.

As I read the poem, I began to focus less on the actual story and more on the strangeness of reading.

Have you ever said a word out loud, and the word suddenly seems odd? And you wonder how those sounds came to mean what you were referencing? Then you wonder how any sound can be understood to mean something. “And how does language even work at all?” you might think.

Well I began to have similar thoughts, but with reading rather than speaking. As I read, I started to think, “Isn’t it strange that these scribbles translate to sound, and everyone around me knows what this sound means? This is very strange. How do I know what these markings on the paper mean? How am I even doing this?”

Suddenly, I stopped speaking.

I no longer knew what the scribbles meant. Panic rose. I did not know what to do.

I forgot how to read

in the middle of reading.

I desperately stared at the page, hoping the magical meaning would somehow pop back into my head, but nothing came.

I pictured the confused faces of my teacher and classmates but was too scared to look up.

I stuttered.

Before I could fully comprehend what had just happened, I suddenly knew how to read again, and I carried on like nothing had happened.

“Sorry, just lost my place.”

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