“Rose?” asked Mrs Kudrow. Ugh. I’m new here and apparently some teachers haven’t gotten the memo that I don’t speak yet. I get up and her expression changes from a smiling and encouraging one to a confused or questioning one. I write on the whiteboard, I don’t speak. She just smiles at me and says okay. I go back and sit down. This is going to be a long day.
By now, everyone knows who I am, except for the teachers apparently. I’m ‘the girl with the scars who doesn’t talk. I’ve been to about a million therapists in the last five years and I still haven’t said a single word since, the accident. I’ve been moved around to try to get help from different doctors, none of them even scratching my surface.
It’s my sophomore year of highschool. We moved here at the end of summer. The ‘we’ being my adopted parents, Casper and Jodi, and me. The Lawson’s were friends of my doctor after the accident. They learned parts of what happened and took me in. Originally it was to foster me but according to them, I was too likeable to let go. I don’t believe them.
Everyone here automatically assumes that I am dumb or stupid or something like that. Truthfully, in my opinion, I think I’m pretty smart but that’s just me. Although, it’s pretty degrading to hear people judge you on your abilities, or in my case, the lack thereof.
“Rose? You with us?” asks the English teacher. I muster up a smile and nod. She smiles back and continues reading. Huh. I just may like her.
For the rest of the class, I keep myself company. I talk to myself, frequently because who else would I talk to? I have the reasonable me and then me. Very often I find reasonable me lecturing me on how I should just talk but I have tried to. I end up passing out, sometimes for days at a time. That’s when I first started seeing therapists. After a couple times of passing out, I gave up on attempting to talk because I figured nothing would get better. It didn’t. Things sometimes slip out and I just stop moving, no matter what I’m doing.
“Hey, You! You gonna actually talk today or just stay the quiet little bitch that you are?” some kid yelled at me. I walked a bit faster down the hall still hearing him and his friends snicker as I got to my last class. Gym. I like gym. Well, I like to run. Here, you can run around the track with earbuds in so that’s what I do. I could’ve stayed back and done some group activity but obviously I chose not to. I’m running around the track and see someone come up beside me and move closer in. Before I get a chance to look up and back away, the person is a bit ahead of me, gets closer to my lane, and sticks their foot out. I stumble a bit while the person runs away to go laugh with their friends. I end up on the grass. Great. I hear a whistle.
“Ms King! Get off the grass. You either run or come over here. Is that clear?” I nod my head, get up, and start running again, a bit faster. Luckily, we don’t have gym uniforms that we are required to wear so when the bell rung, I just kept running until I got home.
“Hey Rose. How was your day?” asks Casper when I’m in the house. I give him the thumbs up and then point upstairs.
“Okay. Finish your homework and be back down here by six. We’re going out to dinner tonight. I smile at him and head upstairs. I don’t have that much homework and what I do have is pretty easy so I get done in about twenty minutes. I get out my book and go over to sit on my windowsill. I notice that the house next door has finally been sold and the new people are starting to move in. I keep watching and I see a mother, a father, a little boy who looks to be six, a girl who may be around the age of nine, and a boy who looks to be near my age. The older boy looks up and sees me. I duck down before he can double check. I get back up after I know for sure he’s gone and look back out the window. The whole family is inside now. I can see all the lights on. From the older couple who lived there before, I know where all the rooms are. I’m going to bet that the parents got the room on the first floor on the side facing away from my house. The little boy probably got the one next to it. The room in the back of the house on the second floor is the next biggest so the girl got that room, most likely. That means the room facing my house goes to the older boy. Shoot! His window looks right into mine. At that exact moment, the curtains open and there stand a very handsome boy. Dang. Who knew that boys were made like that. He’s tall and doesn’t look too overly muscular. He has brown hair and the most captivating green eyes. He looks forward and makes eye contact with me. I feel like I should pull away, but I can’t. He smiles and waves. I tentatively wave back and give him a small smile.
“Rose! We have to go!” yells Jodi from downstairs. I change my shirt into a plain white tee and get a black shrug to go over it. I grab my shoes and go downstairs with them in my hand.
“Hey, we invited the neighbors to come with us. We’re going to walk around and give them a little tour. Is that okay?” Jodi asks. I’m not such a big fan of meeting new people. It makes me really nervous but these people are new so I guess I can give them an exception. I nod my head.
“Great!” she says and we walk out the door.
We walk across the yard to the new neighbors house and ring the doorbell. The little boy answers the door and yells back to his parents saying there are some people here. A lady comes to the door and introduces herself as Mrs (last name) but to call her Meg. Casper and Jodi smile and introduce themselves as well as me. She invites us inside and asks us if we want anything to drink before we go. We shake our heads. A man I assume is her husband comes downstairs and introduces himself as James. He reaches out to shake our hands. I of course don’t but he just smiles at me. He walks back up the stairs and I can hear him yelling, letting the others know it’s time to leave. They all come downstairs youngest to oldest. Now I don’t usually swear a lot but holy shit. That kid is, wow. He’s even cuter in person. The little boy who answered the door is Lucas and the girl is Olivia. The smoking hot guy over there is Leo. Oh my god. What am I thinking? Whatever. ‘Get him out of your mind Rose,’ I internally scold myself.
Apparently were walking to the diner so we leave once everyone’s ready. The adults talk on the way there and try to include us kids but that didn’t really work. The (last name) kids talk amongst themselves while I just keep walking with my head down. Every now and then I look up to make sure I’m not veering off course and see someone staring at me. Either it’s Leo or his parents. The only reason I can think of for them to be looking at m is that Casper and Jodi are explaining my story and Leo is just overhearing it. That thought is a little unsettling because there are only five people who know a part of it. Only I know the whole thing. Me, my parents, and the person who shall not be named. Although three out of the four people that know are dead.
We make it to the diner and get seated at one of their really long booths near the window. My family on one side and the (last name)’s on the other. The waitress came and asked for our drinks. Everyone ordered and started talking again. Of course, I didn’t order anything, I was fine with water, but everyone else did. The adults talked about the neighborhood and the school as well as themselves while we just sat and listened.
At one point in their conversation I heard my name. I looked up from where I was playing with my straw to see Meg looking at me. I looked towards Casper and Jodi and they told her that I didn’t talk. She and her husband had sad expressions towards me while Leo looked up. I looked down and started fidgeting again.
“So, she doesn’t speak? At all?” he asks. I shake my head. He stares at me with a puzzled expression and then goes back to staring at nothing. The waitress comes back and asks us if we’re ready to order. Everyone gave their consent and we started to order. The little kids got mac and cheese while the adults all got some salad or sandwich. I got my usual, the soup, and Leo ordered the same. Of course, I didn’t order it, Jodi ordered for me but same thing. Somehow, the dinner conversation turned to the kids so I learned that Lucas is five, Olivia is nine, and Leo is fifteen.
“So, how old are you, Rose?” James asks. I point to Leo. He’s looked up by now and has been paying attention to the conversation.
“Fifteen?” I nod and he smiles.
“Looks like you’ll know someone tomorrow,” he says toward Leo. Leo gives a kind of half smile with is really cute and then looks to me. I feel heat rising through my cheeks and duck my head down. I hear him give a light chuckle. The conversation has thankfully moved back to Lukas and his sister so I’m off the hook for now.
Leo sits up a bit and holds out his hand, “Hi. I’m Leo and this is my official introduction,” he says with a smile. I shyly smile back at him and reach out my hand before thinking. As I grab his hand, I remember why I don’t usually. Every time I touch someone new, I get a mini panic attack and pull my hand away but this time, it doesn't happen for some reason. I look down at my hand, wondering why nothing happening. I looked with a smile on my face and saw Leo staring at me.
“What?” he asks. I grab a pen and notepad and write, Usually when I touch someone for the first time, I get a panic attack but this time I didn’t. I think I’m improving! I hand the pad to him and watch him as he reads it.
“That’s really awesome. You wanna know what else is awesome?” he asks. I shake my head. “We have a way to communicate! I don’t feel like learning sign language,” he says with a laugh. I smile and notice that we’re the only two speaking. I look towards Casper and Jodi and they have a smile.
“Rose, this is such an improvement. You haven’t communicated with anyone like that before. It was always a nod or a shake,” says Jodi with excitement in her eyes. I think back. Hm, I guess I haven’t. I smile at them.