Chapter 1: Say What?
"Rule number 24: There will be no extra credit for assignments. Rule number 25…"
I hit my head on my deck. I just had to get the mono tone teacher for physics, didn't I? One look around the room and I knew that at least half of the class was asleep. You'd be thinking, 'hey, why doesn't the teacher wake them up?' Well, according to rule number 13, you can sleep but he won't repeat the lesson for you.
First day of school is always the most boring. All the teachers do is tell you the rules of the class and what to expect throughout the semester. I've already read the packet Mr. Jones handed out that had all the details of the class. I don't understood why he went through all the rules when he already had them on paper, and man, did he have a lot of rules. Thirty-two to be exact. How he came up with all of them is beyond me. Mr. Jones looked like he was in his late forties, early fifties with gray hairs all over his aged face except for the top of his head. He is a beefy man were he wobbled instead of walked with a scowl on his face. Yeah, not the most pleasant of people.
"Rule number 28, " Mr. Jones started, but the bell cut him off short. Everyone quickly got up and started to file out of the class. "Alright, we'll finish the packet on Wednesday. Oh, Miss Wess, may I have a word?" With a sigh, I grabbed my bag off the floor as I walked over to his desk.
"Now," he said, "I've read the notice the office sent me, so I'm aware of your condition. However, that doesn't mean I won't call on you during class." I raised an eyebrow, confused. "I'll simply ask you yes or no questions. That should be easy enough for you, no?" I nodded. "Good and don't expect any special treatment, alright?"
With a quick nod, I headed for the door, but right as I was about to step outside said door, he called out, "And don't use it for an excuse."
Okay, by now, I bet you're starting to wonder what that was all about. Simply put, I'm a mute and I have been for six years now. Due to some drunk, my mom and I got hit at an intersection. The whole experience messed up my head and the doctors diagnosed me with a mild case of Selective Mutism. Nothing's wrong with my vocal cords, but when I try to speak, I just end up letting out silent words. Over the years, my mom, psychiatrist, and doctors have tried to get me to say at least one word, but nothing has worked. My psychiatrist discovered I have no problem signing, making intelligible noises, or giving facial expressions, so he told my mom just to sign and speak at the same time so I could get comfortable with the whole idea.
My psychiatrist suggested that I get in a different school environment, so my mom quickly put me in a different private school. I could probably go to one of those 'special' schools, but I've always preferred private school. Sure, a lot of people don't like talking to me, but I still have good friends. And all of my teachers get a notice so they usually don't call on me in class, hence why I was confused when Mr. Jones said he was going to. Joy, I can already tell he'll be a favorite teacher.
It wasn't even two seconds I stepped out the door before I was tackled by a pink blur.
"KENNY!" it squealed as it gave me a hug. "I've been, like, looking all over for you! Like, even before school started, and let me tell you, what a morning! So, like, Jay was trying to get John to, like, kiss Bert on a dare, but John was all 'No way man!' and Bert was, like, just the same. So then," it continued to ramble on. I smiled as I recognized it was my best friend, Melanie. Melanie was the classic blonde valley girl who never seemed to shut up. Even when I first met her in 5th grade, she did all the talking. It wasn't until the teacher introduced me to the class Melanie found out I was mute. "Like, oh my gosh, you're, like, mute? I just thought, like, you were a good listener. Were you, like, even paying attention?" I nodded when she didn't continue. "Really? That is, like, so cool! People usually, like, ignore me or, like, walk away…" and ever since then, she's been my friend. Somehow, she always knows what I was thinking when she talks to me. She claims that my expressions gives my thoughts away, but so does everyone else I've met.
I tuned back in to her rambling. "So then, like, Matt was getting annoyed since John and Bert were, like, arguing, so, like, Matt grabbed both John and Bert's heads, and like, put their heads together, making them, like, kiss! It was, like, so funny!" she laughed. I silently laughed with her. I signed the letter 'J' next to my heart and gave her a puzzled look. "Oh, Jay?" she asked. I nodded. " Oh, he was laughing his ass off."
"It may have been funny to you, but for me, it was gross," a deep voice said from behind us as a pair of arms wrapped around Melanie and I. I tilted my head back and smiled. The owner of the voice smiled back. "Good to see you too, Kendra."
"Oh, admit it, Bert. It was hilarious," Melanie accused as she pushed his arm off her, "We all know you have a crush on John"
I turned my head toward him, raising an eyebrow. "No, Kendra, I'm not gay. You know Melanie, she likes any kind of gossip," he reasoned. Bert was the best at reading my expressions. We could have entire conversations without me signing or writing anything, no matter what we were talking/ thinking about
Bert's real name was Robert, but he has always hated it. He didn't want to be called Bob either, so he tells everyone to call him Bert. It's funny though, he won't let anyone call him by his full name, but he calls everyone by their full name. Normally, people call me Ken (or in Melanie's case, Kenny) and yet, Bert is still the only one to call me Kendra.
We continued to walk down the hallway as Melanie and Bert kept arguing over John, with one of Bert's arms still around my shoulders. Bert has always been the overly protective brother type. He's had it in his mind that I needed protecting, but I didn't really mind. It was like having my real brother Daniel around when he really wasn't. We were one of those few siblings that always got along, no matter how old we got. But sadly for the both of us, he got accepted in a university, so we don't see much of each other.
"Come on! We all know John's gay, so why aren't you?" Melanie asked. Bert and I exchanged confused looks.
"No, only you think he's gay. He's pretty straight to the rest of us," Bert reasoned. I nodded in agreement.
"Please," she scoffed, "my gay-dar goes off every time he's around." I smirked at her, raising an eyebrow. "And what's that supposed to mean, Kenny?"
"I think she's askin' if your gay-dar might be off," Bert chuckled. I gave him a thumbs up.
"Who's gay-dar is off and why?" a voice asked from behind us. Well speak of the devil and he shall appear. I rolled my eyes and pointed to Melanie. "Melanie's? I've seen it in action, it never fails." Bert and I stopped dead in our tracks and stared at John, while Melanie smirked. John looked back at us, confused. "What?"
John is one of few people that can actually pull off unnatural colored hair. His pale skin worked great with his dark blue hair. He was a towering 6' 4" with a toned swimmers body. Funny thing is he doesn't swim, he plays football, as do Bert, Matt, and Jay. They're not the popular jock type, but more of their own pack. They all met Melanie and I in 7th grade in the middle school courtyard. They kept trying to make me answer their questions no matter how many times I shook my head. When Melanie 'explained' (more like yelled) to them I was mute, all four of them became fascinated and protective of me. Since then, they have always had my back, acting as if they were my brothers.
I smacked my face as Bert burst out laughing. Melanie simply smiled as she trotted up to a confused John, giving him a quick hug. "Don't worry Hun," she insisted, "If you believe me, that's all the proof I need."
He returned the hug. "Ok then… do I get to know the accused?"
"Nope!" she chirped, "It's a surprise" I flicked Melanie's forehead, giving a blank stare. She rubbed her forehead, but continued to smile at me. "Come on Kenny, let me have some fun here," she pouted. I rolled my eyes, but gave her a quick nod before pulling out my schedule. I motioned Bert over, pointing to my next class with a confused expression.
"Don't know where it is?" he asked. I bowed my head and nodded. I've been in the high school buildings for two years, starting my third, and still don't know where everything is. Bert laughed at my reaction, "It's ok, I think you'll get it by senior year." I rolled my eyes. As if that would happen. "I think it could happen, " he mused, " So, it seems your second period is history, so that's down at building 'C'." I groaned when he said building 'C'.
The school has six buildings in the high school department. They were built around a beautiful courtyard, making the shape of a hexagon. The buildings were connected by indoor hallways on both the first and second floors. For a building, such as 'A', the indoor hallways would be connected to 'B' and 'F', for they were next to each other. Building 'F' was literally on the other side of the school as building 'C'.
Bert patted my back at my reaction. "'S ok, Kendra, I'm in the same class as you. We can both be annoyed by the inconvenience."
"Thanks," I signed as Bert and I walked out of the building into the courtyard, Melanie and John close behind. "Where's Jay and Matt?"
"They said they would meet us by the fountain," Bert explained, pointing to the large fountain in the center of the courtyard. Sitting on its edge was Matt and Jay, talking to themselves. Matt looked a lot like Bert, large and muscular, but he had blonde hair instead of brunette and his eyes were a bright mix of blue and green. Both Matt and Bert stood at a good 6'2" while Jay was six inches shorter and with a swimmers built just like John. Jay also had dark green eyes with black, straight hair that reached his mid back. Basically, they all looked drop dead gorgeous .
"Ken!" Jay shouted as he spotted me from the fountain. He quickly jumped from the fountain and (quite literally) skipped over to us, with Matt running behind him. Jay snatched me away from Bert as he pulled me into a death grip. "Ken, I've missed ya so much! Summer is a pain in th' butt when I don't see any o' y'all!" he exclaimed as he continued to squeeze the life out of me, "Now don't get me wrong, Rome is beautiful! But when I'm away from all o' y'all, my feel goods start ta hurt as my feel bads take over…" By this point, Jay had completely forgotten that he had me in a death grip.
"Choking!" I signed rapidly over Jay's shoulder. Matt, who had been laughing at the display, decided now was the time to get Jay off me.
"Now, now Jason," he laughed as he pulled me away from Jay, "just because you missed her, doesn't mean you can kill her with hugs."
Jay went wide eyed as he realized I was now paler than normal. "Oh, sweet-pea, I'm so sorry! My brain tends ta unda' estimate my strength," he pouted as he pat my head.
"I noticed," I signed. Jay gave me an apologetic smile as he turned to everyone else as he explained the wonders of Rome. Jay was the openly gay guy in our little group and had a heavy southern accent. He used to live in the country side of Texas before moving to the cities with his mother. His mom is a famous designer and always took him on her trips if he didn't have school.
"and then, my mom started ta yell at ta poor girl for not wearin' th' right shoes. So then-"
"As much as I'd love to hear the rest of this tale," Matt interrupted, "we better get to class before the bell rings." Jay pouted at Matt, but agreed to finish the story later. As we all turned to go our separate ways, Melanie cleared her throat.
"Hello? Ain't y'all gonna say bye?" she exclaimed, clearly mocking Jay.
Jay gave her a half hearted glare. "I swear, make fun o' me one more time, an' I'll hog tie ya ta th' back o' a horse!" he smiled as he gave a quick hug to all of us. Matt, Melanie, and John did the same after Jay, then hurried off to their classes.
Bert shook his head as he slung an arm around my shoulders. "I swear they get crazier every year."
I gave him a sincere smile as we walked into the 'C' building. "No they aren't… except for Jay, maybe"
Bert nodded thoughtfully. "Definitely."
I slammed my books on the desk as I sat down, making my friend Gabe next to me jump. He gave me a quick glare before putting his head back down. I rolled my eyes as I smacked him in the back of the head. I laughed as he gave a pained yelp. "Dude, what the hell?"
"Class starts in two minutes, you dumbass," I mused as I pulled my feet on top of his desk.
Gabe rolled his eyes. "Speak for yourself, dipshit," he said as he knocked my feet off. "Man, I wish Wes was in this class. Then we could easily pass this class."
I barked out a laugh, "Yeah, no kiddin'." Wes has always been better when it comes to studying. I may have a good gpa, but history has never been my strong point.
Gabe rubbed the back of his head, "Oh well, maybe we'll learn something."
I barked out a laugh, "You learning something? I didn't know that was possible." Gabe gave a grunt in response. I put feet back on his desk as students started to fill the room. After a quick scan of the crowd, I couldn't find any familiar faces. According to the clock on the wall, class should start any minute, so this was probably all the students. Great, a boring class with boring students.
"I can't believe you're starting to listen to her gossip!" a deep voice mused.
My eyes widened. No… it can't be. I quickly tilted my head to the door, hoping my ears were wrong.
"Ok, I'll admit, her gay-dar is pretty damn good, but John? I just don't see it." Bert shook his head at his statement. The dark haired redhead next to him simply rolled her eyes.
I quickly looked away in disgust. Kendra was one of the many people in this school that I can NOT stand. Everyone in our grade knew about her 'disability'. To be honest, I think she's just faking it. I mean, it can't be that hard. All she has to do is keep her mouth shut around everyone and bam! She's labeled as disabled. What made it worse was how her little jock friends were over protective of her. Example: Bert. Before he met her, he was a pretty cool guy. He even helped Gabe and I on a few pranks back in elementary. But when he met miss disabled, he made a complete one eighty.
I turned my head back toward them as they made their way to the teacher, probably asking if the teacher knew about Kendra's 'condition'. Since I was near the teachers desk, I heard every word.
"Uh, excuse me? Ms. Thompson?" Bert questioned.
"Yes, how can I help you two?" her little voice asked. Man, she looked like she belonged in a museum.
"Hi, I'm Bert, and this is Kendra," he explained, gesturing to the little red head, "we were just wondering if you were notified of her condition."
Ms. Thompson gave that classic, warm old lady smile. "Oh yes, dearies, I was. You poor thing, you can both sit in front of those two gentlemen. That way you can be next to me." She smiled as she pointed to the two desks in front of Gabe and I. My eyes went wide. You've got to be kiddin' me. "That way if you're having any trouble, I'll be right there."
Bert returned her smile, as did Kendra. "Thank you, miss," he said. Kendra made a gesture with her hands. I rolled my eyes. She faked it so well that she actually had to learn sign language? Pathetic. When Bert turned towards us, he sent a hard glare at me. When Kendra spotted me, she simply looked down, trying to ignore me. I couldn't help but to smirk at that. At least she knew my hate for her.
Bert made sure that she sat in front of Gabe, putting him in front of me. After making sure that she was ok, he turned towards me. "I swear, Westford, if you say or do anything to Kendra, I'll-"
I quickly cut him off. "Don't worry, mother hen, I'm not going to do anything," I smirked, "Why would I waste effort on a disabled." If looks could kill, I'd probably would've exploded by now.
I sent a quick glance at Kendra. She looked like she was trying to have a neutral face on, but her eyes were betraying her. She was obviously hurt by my comment, but she tried to ignore it. She put a hand on Bert's shoulder, giving him a hard stare. He stared back with a concerned look, but eventually sighed.
"I guess you're right," he admitted, turning back to the front as the bell rang. I raised an eyebrow. What was that all about? She didn't even write down or sign anything, how the hell did he know what she was thinking about? I felt someone nudge my shoulder. I looked over at Gabe.
"Don't let him get to you, Ben." He laughed.
I scoffed at his comment as Ms. Thompson started class. "Alright everybody, I'm Ms. Thompson. Now, I know you all like to think that the first day of school is easy, and to be honest I agree. So, today I want you to just have fun. However, I do have one announcement. You see, I always have a big project that you all have one year to complete." A year? That doesn't seem so bad. "With this project, all you have to do is pick a subject that has to do with some point in history, and make a presentation at the end of the year. The reason I tell you now is because in the past, many of my students complained how hard it took them to finish on the deadline. So, I decided to notify you now so you all have time to think about it."
I sighed. Well, at least I had a year to do this stupid project. "Now, this project is also to be done with a partner," I looked over at Gabe as he looked at me. Now this would be easy. We wouldn't have to think too hard on a single project with the two of us. "And I'll be choosing your partner." My eyes widened. This can't be good…
I noticed how Kendra and Bert gave nervous glances toward each other. Usually when teachers assign partners, they go by alphabetical order. This sucked for Gabe and I since our last names were nowhere near each other. And by the look on Bert's and Kendra's face, neither did they.
As she started to list off the names, I started to tap my finger on the desk. Though, I had to laugh when Gabe got paired with Bert. Bert didn't look to happy when that was announced.
"And last, but not least, Miss Wess and Mister Westford." Wess? Who the hell was Wess? I may not know this Wess person, but at least I knew it was a girl. Hopefully she's hot. "Alright, I didn't have anything planned today so you can talk amongst yourselves." She smiled as she shuffled over to her desk. Man, she's just that classic, cute old lady, isn't she?
Wanting to know who may partner was, I was about to get up when I saw Bert and Kendra get up and walked over to her desk. Curious, I walked behind them.
"Ms. Thompson?" Bert asked, getting her attention, "I think we may have a problem with the assigned partners." Kendra nodded in agreement.
"Problem? However so?" she asked.
"Well, you see, I'm the only one in here who knows sign language. Kendra would have problems communicating with her partner so we think it would be best if she was partnered with me." He explained.
Ms. Thompson gave him a thoughtful look. "I'm sorry, dearies, but I let you choose your partner, it wouldn't be fair to the other students." She turned her attention towards Kendra, "You can write, right?" Kendra hesitantly nodded. "Then you'll just have write to communicate with mister Westford."
"Whoa, time out," I interrupted, shoving past Bert to look at Kendra in the eye. "Your last name is Wess?" Her bright green eyes widened before nodding. She looked past me and started making fast hand motions. I turned around to see Bert reading her signs. When she finished, he nodded. After seeing his response, she quickly started signing to the teacher, probably forgetting that she couldn't understand sign language. I simply stood there, stunned.
"I'm sorry, Miss Wess, but my decision is final." Ms. Thompson apologized before turning to her work. Bert and Kendra sighed in defeat as they went back to their desks. I unwillingly followed them so I could get back to mine. As I was sitting down, I could tell Gabe wanted to say something, but I just shook my head. I may have to work with a disabled, but at least I knew I would pass.
Deciding to mess with her, I reached over and tapped her shoulder. She turned towards me, a confused expression on her face.
"So," I started, "how long did it take to convince them you're mute?" I asked. Her expression showed a mix of shock and anger. Bert's expression, however, was murderous.
"Westford," he growled, but I cut him off.
"Hey, I'm just curious," I said defensively, " So, how long?"
I watched as she reached for a piece of paper and a pen. She made a quick note before handing it to me. 'You're an ass' was written in very elegant cursive. For some reason, I couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, I know that. But seriously, I'm curious. How long?" I asked as I handed her pack the paper. Bert was about to say something, but Kendra cut him off by raising her hand. She stared at him for a while as he stared back.
Eventually, he sighed, "Fine," he said, turning his so he could rest his head on his desk. I turned toward Gabe, wondering if he was even paying attention. Nope, he was passed out. Genius.
As she started to write again, I asked, "Ok, that crap is freaking me out." She didn't stop writing, but Bert turned around.
"What crap?" he asked.
"That whole silent conversation thing! It's messed up. You stare at each other for a good two minutes and then you give a response no one understands." I explained.
Bert just laughed as he turned back around. Kendra then handed me the paper. 'I didn't 'convince' anyone. I don't know why, but I just can't speak. Believe me, I've tried' I looked over at her. "And you expect me to believe that?" I asked. She nodded. "Why? Your vocal cords aren't broken, so you should speak." She reached over and quickly started to write. 'I just don't know'
Knowing this was probably the only time I'd be able to get the truth out of her, I turned towards Kendra. "Can you ask your bodyguard if he and I could switch seats so we could talk more easily?" Bert glared at me, but looked over at Kendra. She gave a half smile and nodded.
"You sure?" he asked. She nodded again. "Fine," he grunted as he stood up.
We quickly changed seats and I moved the desks together so I could see her paper. I handed her the paper, "Let the interrogation begin."
A.N: Well, it took forever, but I remembered. I actually finished this chapter and story line about 6 months ago, I just kept forgetting to post it…
Hope you like it so far. Leave your comments or complaints. Seriously, they help.