I drew a line in the margin of my journal paper, waiting for school to get out. Right after school I was going to go watch the high school soccer players. I was hoping to pick up some tips from watching them so when I tried out, I could try to do something like they did and make a good impression on the coach.

Tryouts were tomorrow. This was my first chance to try, because I'd missed the tryouts last year. And the year before that, they wouldn't allow me too, anyway, because I was in fifth grade.

I was in seventh grade now, and the soccer team was all sixth graders, seventh graders, and eighth graders. I probably wasn't going to make the team anyway, because the coach might feel sorry for me, or something like thinking I wasn't good enough.

The reason why? Well, here it is.

I'm dumb. If you don't know what that means, it means mute. Someone who can't talk. Yep, I, Hazel Waters, a thirteen year old, haven't been able to talk since I was three. Or two. Or one. Or zero, for that matter.

But I can kind of make a mumbling noise. I can still can kind of make out a sound in a wretched voice. And I can do sign language pretty well. But nobody pays attention to that, do they?

"Hazel?"

I slammed my journal shut and gave a half-hearted I'm sorry look to Mr. Meyer.


I sat on the sideline of the soccer field, watching the players dribble the ball back and forth, side to side, going for the goal.

Stupid writing assignment. Mr. Meyer made me write one hundred and twenty times, I will not do anything distracting in class and I will pay attention to the teacher. I mean, seriously? Why do I have to write something as stupid as this?

It doesn't matter. My whole life is weird. Not just because I'm mute, but because, well, I'm smart for a mute person. Well, not really smart. I keep on getting B- on my social studies test. But still, I've gotten better scores than most people.

Actually, nobody knew I was smart until fourth grade, when I was staying home with Cassia, my now fifteen sister.

I had been working on my math homework when Cassia came over and said, "How'd you get that answer?"

I had then showed her.

"Holy crap!" Cassia had said. "You learn that in fourth grade?!"

I'd grabbed some paper and wrote, I figured that out myself.

That night, I'd shown Mom and Dad my homework and as soon as I got to sixth grade, I had been placed in most of the advanced classes. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I hadn't skipped a grade because I was mute. But I wasn't just smart in school.

I was smart in soccer, too. I love soccer and have been playing since I was three. That's the reason I want to be on the soccer team. I was best at midfield and defense, though if I got on the team, I really wouldn't care what position I got.

Another reason? I think that if I get on the soccer team, maybe everyone will finally understand me. You know, actually believe in me. See that I'm not so helpless.

The reason I said that because everyone I meet, no matter who, when I tell them I am mute, they usually just give me a look of pity. It's pathetic. I hate being like I'm to helpless to do anything. And at school, people look at me like- how do I say this?- like I'm weird. I still don't get what's so weird about being able to not talk.

I packed up my stuff and my stupid writing assignment and ran toward home.


When I got home that night, it was total chaos. Mom was gone at the station, my dog Cookie was running around like a nut, Cassia was beating my three-year-old sister Brenna at arm wrestling, and Dad was trying to keep it down while he cooked dinner, and my seventeen-year-old twin brothers Sam and Jake were playing Assassin's Creed 3.

Eventually, Mom came home, Sam and Jake left to check out cars, Dad got dinner on the table, Cassia finally stopped beating up Brenna, and we all sat down (minus Jake and Sam) and we all started eating. But I guess I was picking at my food, because Mom noticed and leaned over.

"Hazel, what's wrong? You've barely touched your food, and isn't hamburgers one of your favorite meals?"

I shrugged and made the I don't know noise.

"Oh, come on. There must be something."

I mouthed after dinner.

After dinner, Cassia did the dishes, Brenna went to bed, and Mom took me to my room with a pad of paper.

See, now I just communicate with everyone in the house and carrying around a pad of paper and writing down what I have to say. At least it's made me a faster writer.

I stared at the gray sky of Minnesota. Only thing I wasn't looking forward to was rain during a game.

Mom started our conversation. "Alright Hazel, what's wrong? No lying this time."

I wrote on my paper about soccer and my voice and how it could affect everything.

My mom sighed. "Hazel, at least try, okay?"

I nodded. Before she got to say anything else, Mom went downstairs to see Sam and Jake, who must of gotten back.

I ran my fingers on the windowsill. Not much of a talk.

I wished I could go on the phone and talk to my cousin, Anastasia. She, along with my friend Jacia, seemed like the only people who understand. Even they don't get me sometimes.

I pulled out my journal and drew random things until it was time for bed.

Closing my eyes, I whispered in my head, Please don't let my voice get in the way. Please.

And with that, I fell asleep.