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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Year(s) (01/20/11)

TITLE: Meaningless Words
By Sara Harricharan


Meaningless Words

They are pointless. They are troublesome. They take so much effort to say when I do not wish to say them.

But I say them anyway.

It does not make sense. It does not have to be heard, it simply must be said. It could be shortened. I could save myself a half-breath. I could simply cut it in half.

But I don’t.




Why do I say them? I act as if they are important things to say and that everyone must hear them. I am stuck in a routine where I feel stranded if I have not attempted to make some verbal connection.

Time passes.

“Good morning.”



I modify them. I add to them. I make them more difficult to say. But still, I say them anyway. I say them as if I must not forget to add on the tags and formulate each syllable. The years bring new faces and new places. I answer accordingly.

“Good morning from Denver!”

“Goodnight, Mom.”

“Okay, Susan.”

The words were so simple, so pointless and somehow, infuriatingly necessary. Sometimes I bit my lip or tongue, thinking I can stop this habit, but I have been trained since childhood and this habit is now permanent.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Excuse me.”


I cannot leave well enough alone, but still I will modify them. The years have taught me to speak quickly, even if what I say is important—not everyone wishes to hear. I speak with my body instead.

Thanks—a nod.

You’re welcome—a smile.

Excuse me—a raised eyebrow.

Please—eyes filled with an almost-smile.

I know the actions to convey these words, but now I weary of using them so often. It is almost easier to speak them than to pretend I am immune to the security I find in voicing them aloud.

The words are changing again and I do not know how I can keep silent now.

“Take care.”

“Be careful.”


Who takes care of what, anymore? Why should I be a reminder of caution, the world is not as dangerous as I feel inside.

But there is no way around goodbye.
Still, the years are settling around me and the words are still changing again. I say them with more emphasis than I can bear to fathom.

“Take care, dear.”

“Be careful, sweetie.”


These words are painful, torturous and so very necessary. I find that I must speak them now. They are no longer pointless, they are no longer meaningless, as the years have passed, their values increase.

I want to say them. I want to hear them back.

I want to never stop saying them. My reality is bittersweet, but I would never trade it. I crave it. I enjoy it. I would not wish it away—even as I drown in it.

“Good morning, babe.” I say to him.

He smiles and kisses my cheek. “Coffee?”

“Okay. Just a sec.”

“Thanks.” The cup is accepted with a tired smile.

“You’re welcome. Busy day?”

“Probably. Kids’ up?”

“Susan, Jamie, breakfast!”

The breakfast bustle is a whirlwind of rushing and dashing about. The silence comes quickly and I am standing at the door.

“Mommy, I can’t find my—Jamie, give it back!”

“Say please.” The older sibling taunts.

“Jamie, excuse you.” I settle the quarrel. “Off you go, the lot of you.” There are faces upturned, waiting for kisses. I press one to each brow. “Take care, sweetie.” He winks as he leaves. “Be careful, okay?” The eager children are already halfway to the curb.

I stand in the doorway and watch.

My presentation isn’t until noon. I will have time. Time to think and reason and twist my head in knots. When I see them again, it will be nighttime.

I will turn off the lights as they go to bed and I will listen to recited bedtime prayers and smile when I hear them speak.

“Goodnight, Jamie.”

“’night, Mom.”

“Goodnight, Susan.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“’night, babe.”


The darkness of night creeps in through the shadows. I curl up in the blankets and let my mind wander—again.

It is easy, too easy. Far too easy to slip away into this un-reality.

But the truth is before me, I can see it clearly. These empty little phrases, these meaningless words, as the years passed by, they have become the things I say that mean the most.

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Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp01/31/11
Yes, irrevocable hindsight! I've often thought about how different our lives would be if we truly knew how to appreciate what we have, when we have it.
Sunny Loomis 02/01/11
Sometimes a lot can be said in very few words. Good job. Thank you.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/02/11
I so know what you mean. Something it seems it is just habit, but I always say I love you when they leave, hang up the phone and go to bed. If something ever happens, I want those to be the last words they hear. Great message one that really trenched me this week.