Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

Fluency

by Kerrie Smith

It was either Broca's area or Wernicke's.

She could never remember which was which.

Up until a few months ago, neither one of them had worked, so she hadn't had to worry about it.

Actually, she hadn't worried about it much after whichever one it was had started working, until one day, Tim, the boy in the red and green, had showed up at home waving a big purple textbook.

They had sat on the floor, and he'd shown her a big shiny picture of the inside of a person's head.

"See, this one's Wernicke's area," he'd said, pointing to one lumpy patch of brain. "It controls speech comprehension -- like how you understand what I'm saying."

And Batgirl had nodded eagerly.

"And this one. this is Broca's area. That one lets you speak." He was quiet for a second. "A lot of the kids in my class had trouble figuring out how one can work without the other."

But Tim knew. And so did Batgirl.

Cassandra Cain had one of the most unique brains on the planet.

When she was sixteen, her Wernicke's and Broca's areas were dead silent. Not a single impulse sparked across those two vital spots in her left temporal lobe. But other parts of her brain buzzed with life. Parts that didn't have names. Parts that didn't have names because humans spoke in English or German or Spanish and not tae kwon do or jujitsu or kempo.

When she was seventeen, a metahuman psychic tried to fix her brain. To turn off those parts without names, and to turn on those dead parts. And when her brain stopped thinking tae kwon do and jujitsu and kempo and started thinking English, he decided he'd done a good job.

He didn't know the difference between Wernicke's and Broca's area, either.

It didn't bother Batgirl.

She didn't need Broca's area.

She hadn't needed it when she landed in the alley where Vinnie the Fang was pushing his latest chemical investment to a wasted teenager with acne.

She didn't need to speak English to tell him he was in trouble.

Vinnie understood just enough aikido to figure that one out.

Of course, Vinnie had screamed plenty, and his buddy had screamed into the alley in a beat-up old station wagon.

And Batgirl spoke just enough Smith and Wesson to duck behind the dumpster while Vinnie scrambled into the car to continue his conversation with his friend.

Of course, Vinnie and his pal spoke plenty of James Bond, so they knew exactly when she leapt off the roof of a nearby apartment building onto the top of their car.

Vinnie's buddy spoke Chevrolet pretty well, but not well enough to shake Batgirl, who spoke a moderate amount of Clinging-to-Moving-Cheverolet. Vinnie's buddy didn't speak Exxon very well, because by the time they reached the interstate heading towards Jersey, they were out of gas.

And that's when Batgirl really started pontificating. She spoke in ascending dragon kicks, flavored with dodges and punctuated with quick rabbit punches. When she finished her speech, Vinnie and his friend gave her some very nice compliments in perfect knocked-cold.

Batgirl tied them up, of course, and left them in their car, along with a note for the highway patrolmen who found them, written in flowing cocaine-in-the-trunk.

That had been half an hour ago.

See, Batgirl was quite adept at navigating her way through the city via jumpline, but the builders of the turnpike had neglected to place any tall buildings alongside it.

So she walked.

And walked.

And walked.

Until there it was, shining like a beacon in the waning light of the Gotham sunset.

Batgirl fished around in her utility belt, until she came up with the quarter and the dime and the folded piece of paper that was to be used for Emergencies Only.

She picked up the receiver.

She put the quarter in the slot.

She put the dime in the slot.

She pushed the numbers that were on the piece of paper.

She formed the words in her head, poised her tongue to utter them.

"Greetings, you have reached Wayne Manor."

Want go Home.

No sound came out.

"Hello?"

Want go Home.

It wasn't fair! She knew what she want to say! She could say it in her head! But somehow, it just wouldn't come out her mouth

"Ahem."

WANT GO HOME!

Click.


Cassandra Cain's Broca's area worked with the reliability of a '79 Gremlin.

It didn't bother her.

It really didn't.

Not even when it was hard to speak pwang hwa do or t'ai chi chuan over the telephone.

Nope.

Not at all.

But anyone who was fluent in walking-down-the-Gotham-turnpike who happened to see her would have told you something very different indeed.

The End

 
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This piece is © 2001 by Kerrie Smith
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