Hello! This story has been removed, as it is now available as a book or an ebook, details of which can be found in the next chapter. Don't fear though! I am writing and uploading to Fictionpress a new story, Yellow, a romantic comedy (which retains some of the mystery and complexity of The Mute and The Liar) which I am hoping to update at least once a week. Give it a read and let me know what you think of it! I am returning all reviews for Yellow (I will review your work back). Thanks for all of your support!
The Mute and The Liar
"I was normal. Completely normal. Apart from the fact that I haven't spoken for seven years, and that I'm obsessed with solving crimes I find in newspapers. So there I was, minding my own business and leading my perfectly "normal" life, when the leader of a youth gang decided to break into my house, steal my salad and, oh yeah, kidnap me. Great! Just great!"
12th February 2011
Crime: Woman claims her husband stole £1000 from a savings account she set up for her baby.
Interesting Details: Woman is unemployed. Husband is working on a construction site. Neither is earning much money. Baby is six months old. The relationship has been rocky for a while.
Alicia's Answer: Woman is just trying to get pity from her family and friends. She is a desperate attention-seeker, fed up with her life, and has created a scandal to get everyone's sympathy, and hopefully their money as well. The money she claims is stolen never existed in the first place.
Verdict: WOMAN IS A LIAR.
Outcome: (Crime officially solved by Father and Jeremy on the 28th February) I was right.
Note to self: Remember to collect history homework from Mr E on Thurs. Psychologist's appointment on 15th February.
13th February 2011
Crime: Man found stabbed to death in the local park.
Interesting Details: A neighbour claims he saw the man leaving his house on evening in question with someone else. Neighbour's sister was married to victim. Neighbour and Sister come from a very religious family.
Alicia's Answer: Neighbour's family disapproved of Sister's marriage to Victim, who followed a different religion. Victim murdered by neighbour because he disapproved of the marriage and loved his sister and wanted the best for her. He thought she would be better off without her husband.
Verdict: NEIGHBOUR IS A LIAR.
Outcome: (Crime officially solved by Police after new evidence gathered by Crime Investigation Team on 1st March) I was right.
Note to self: Remember money for lunch at school tomorrow.
14th February 2011
Crime: Woman approached the police station early this morning and demanded to be put in prison on account of murdering her husband of fifteen years. She handed them the gun she said she used, and she was arrested.
Interesting Details: She had a teenage daughter. She was described as a kind, good woman who gave to charity frequently, had many friends and was loved by all. She was a spokesperson for a charity helping disabled children. Her family said she was in a loving relationship. Her mother has stated she does not believe she was capable of murder. Did she kill her husband?
I have absolutely no idea.
I don't understand. I've always been good at this. Solving mysteries. It's become an obsession. I've been filling in notebooks with them for over five years.
My father is a Detective Chief Inspector. He mainly deals with homicide, but he's good, and murders don't happen very often here in Elmview, so he is often in charge of other serious crime investigations. Maybe that's where my obsession comes from. Every day, the moment I get home from school, I scan through the Internet and newspapers for any crimes that have happened recently and try to solve them on my own.
I don't mean to sound boastful, but I'm good. Honestly. I am very rarely wrong, and if I am, it's usually because of the lack of evidence or information I have been able to get.
This is the first time that a case has ever completely thrown me. I suppose it's not that I have any idea what happened exactly, or the forensic evidence, or the motives, or the effects. I'm good at being able to tell exactly what happened, and the reasons why. I know the reason why I'm struggling with this mystery. But I'm not going to start writing about that right now.
You know, my psychologist told me I should keep a diary. She said it would be a good way to 'Express my feelings.' So maybe I will give it a go.
I don't think I will last long, though. I hate words. They are so imprecise, open to interpretations, a weak attempt at communication.
What I like are numbers. Equations where there is only one possible answer, and if you just think with the right logic, use the right methods, and suffer through a fair amount of trial and error, you know you're eventually going to find the right answer. I suppose that's why I like playing detective. You know something must have happened. You know there must have been a reason. So with determination and logic, you'll solve the problem eventually.
To be honest, life would be much easier if there were no words. If no one could speak, there would be no questions or mysteries. No such things as lies. Everything would be simple. Words hurt. Without them, we are safe.
Feeling truly safe, as though no problem in the world could hit you... It's been a long time since I felt like that.
15th February 2011
Those bloody kids are here again." That's father. I refuse to call him 'Dad' because that sounds like I actually care about him. He's talking about some teenagers that recently decided to plague the park opposite our house.
There is a large park that separates our street from the rest of the town. I live in a Victorian terraced house, meaning my house is squashed in a long row of houses. It's quite a big house, four floors; skinny, but very tall, with extremely high ceilings in every room. It's much too big for just the two of us. Neither of us ever have any guests. The only contact our house has with other people is with a cleaner who comes in every Saturday and a window cleaner who shows his face behind the window and his wallet behind the door every month. But both of us are fine with being alone.
So these 'riffraff' just sat themselves in the park opposite and claimed it as theirs a couple of weeks ago. It's half term now, meaning we have a week off school, which explains why there are so many of them loitering around today. It doesn't bother me, but it certainly bothers Father, who is constantly complaining about them. He says all sorts of things about them - even stupid things like how he is sure one of them peed on number 2's door.
There's this gangly boy in particular who really gets on Father's nerves. They glare every time they see each other. That may or may not be because the guy smashed the windows of our car with a rock. Twice.
The police couldn't find any evidence that he did it though, so they dropped the charges. It seems like he is the ringleader of the group; the others always crowd around him and all stop and listen intently whenever he speaks and all laugh hysterically at anything he says. That's all true; I'm very observant, honestly. Detectives have to be.
I can't see why they all worship him. I'll admit that he could be good looking; he's quite tall and he's thin, but he just seems arrogant. He wears vest tops no matter how freezing it is, so you get the impression he does it deliberately to constantly show off his muscles. Clearly no one has told him that his muscles are actually non-existent, so there is no point really. His hair is a hybrid colour, some strange mix of blonde and light brown, and he must be spiking it everywhere with gel, because it stands up on all ends, so it permanently looks like he is being electrocuted. I haven't been close enough to see properly, but his eyes appear to be a very sharp, piercing green.
I only know that because of this one time when I was walking home after school. I had reached the path leading to my house, and I turned around absent-mindedly, when I caught him staring. I'm not lying. He was staring right at me. I thought he was looking at something else at first, but I walked forwards, and his eyes followed me. It was a shock to me, really. I didn't know whether to look away or not. For a moment I felt stunned, no, paralysed - trapped under his gaze, like he was a frog and I was a fly, and he had jabbed out his tongue and snapped me, but didn't give me the mercy of eating me straight away, instead just kept me hanging there.
Father and I just came back from an appointment with my psychologist. My psychologist is called Trisha. She's quite nice actually. She's one of these people who never shuts up. It's not too bad though, because it's got to the point where she just expects that I won't reply. I do reply sometimes (in sign language) if by some miracle I actually have something to say to her. She talks about random things, about the weather, about her family. It's nice just listening sometimes. Under different circumstances I might like her. But then again, that's unlikely. I'm not one to like people.
They're trying this new technique with me called desensitization. It's supposed to make me feel more comfortable with the idea of communicating with Father. They don't understand that I'm perfectly fine with the idea of 'communicating with Father.' I just choose not to.
It's just a waste of time, but Father's convinced I'll crack sooner or later. He's always talking to me. Or thinking out loud, I should say. He just rambles on, speaking everything on his mind, everything that flits into his head, not even caring whether it's nonsense or insulting. The lines have long since blurred between talking to me and talking to himself.
It's been going on for years. Appointment after appointment after appointment. What has it been now? Seven years? Oh yes. Exactly seven years ago yesterday. I almost forgot.
They've tried everything they can. They put me in sign language lessons a couple of years ago. They were considering putting me in a special needs school or giving me a sign language interpreter in lessons in case I ever need to ask for help. The thing is though, I'm clever and I getthings at school; I can write, if I need to say something; I don't really need that kind of help.
And secondly, it's selective mutism; in theory, I can start speaking again whenever I want. So they decided putting me in a special school, etc, would just discourage me from speaking and so for now things remain roughly the same, not including the private tuition sessions with a teacher who speaks sign language I have to go to on a Saturday morning to check I'm understanding everything at school, and the endless appointments I have to go to with various psychologists and speech specialists.
They don't understand that I'm not going to speak because Idon'twantto.The moment I open my mouth there will be questions, and then there will be answers, and then there will be problems. Problems that I'm not allowed to solve. And then there will be lies.
Why do I need to start talking anyway? I don't care. I'm top in my year. It doesn't matter that I don't have any friends. People annoy me, and I didn't have friends even back when I did talk. See? I'm doing absolutely fine without their help.
I wasn't going to write again until tomorrow, but after I had dinner, things got interesting, which is pretty rare around here.
I live in Elmview, a quiet town in the south of England. There is a high street, fitted snugly with a few shops, a bakery and a Newsagent. We have a library, too. And there's a shopping centre in Grand Tyson, the city nearest to us. And that's about it.
Traffic is rare, the people are reclusive, and you could murder someone in one of the isolated alleyways around here and no one would ever even find the body. Not that anything interesting like that happens. The worst thing that has happened here in the past three years was when Mr Patel's shop got covered in graffiti. We don't get tourists. In fact, we probably have more cats living here than people.
Most of our neighbours are stuck in low-paid jobs. There are no train stations nearby, and the nearest motorway is quite a few miles away, so travelling is difficult. In some ways, it seems the detached people here actually like that. They don't need to travel. They don't need adventure. All they have ever needed is right here, in this sleepy town tangled in greenery. We're pretty much cut off from the rest of the world. All of us are just suffocating in a balloon, our lives consisting only of the journey to work and back home.
I made my own dinner in the way I did every day. I cut the bag of pasta in a perfectly straight line, poured it in the saucepan, put it on the hot plate to simmer. I put the tomato sauce to heat up. I waited exactly fifteen minutes. Then I drained the pasta, combined it with the sauce, and took a plate from the perfectly stacked pile, and poured the pasta in. I placed it exactly in the centre of the table and arranged the knife and the fork vertically together on the right hand side of the plate. I ate the pasta in exactly seven forkfuls. Just like always.
That's when I heard it. Shouting and cursing. And Father's voice, bellowing above the rest. Voices of teens protested something, screaming abuse, and other male voices intervening.
I walked up to the window and saw it. The police were crowding around a wall opposite my house, and lined up in a perfect row along it were the teenagers from the park, all babbling over each other in defiance. The police were doing a stop-and-search. Father was standing right in the middle of it all, watching, or rather, commanding everything.
It went on for a while. They didn't seem to find anything interesting. They checked the 'ringleader' of the gang, that boy with the sticking up hair. I caught sight of dad and could see he was just praying for them to find something.
Actually, the things the boy was carrying around were quite strange. He stuffed his hand in his pockets and pulled out not one but three mobile phones, a piece of cheese, a necklace (which an annoyed girl standing next to him quickly snatched away) and a teacup. He then opened a plastic supermarket bag next to him to reveal a lampshade, which looked remarkably like my neighbour's. A policeman looked at him questioningly, but he just shrugged, like everyone in the world carries around lampshades.
The police continued with their search, and then reached the final person; a huge, muscular guy with his white hair shaved off and a snake tattoo racing up one of the tree trunks he had for arms. He was at least twice the size of any of the others, and much older. I could have sworn he was shaking. I learnt why he was acting like that after a few minutes. Concealed in his coat was a bag of meth.
Chaos erupted after that. His friends all scattered in different directions, shouting ricocheted around the street, and some of the police raced after those that had tried to escape. The man with the drugs was pinned down and forced into handcuffs.
In awe, I stood by the window, my hands pressed up against the thin piece of glass.
The teen screamed insults and abuse, swearwords frothing at his mouth, but all his friends had already left him.
Or that's what I thought at least until I noticed the ringleader pressing his nose against the other side of my window.
I was right. His eyes are green. Too bad they're also empty, bottomless pools that are glaring at me.
A/N: Update 5/8/13: The Mute and The Liar won Round 13's Most Creative Plot SKOW award! Thank you so much everyone who nominated and voted. I do not know what I would do without your incredible support! Update 20/11/14: The Mute and The Liar is now available on Lulu and Amazon! got published! I still can't believe it! Details are in the next chapter!