Loud Enough12 mins 388 12 mins 388
My mouth is just… there. It doesn’t do anything apart from consuming food. It can form words, but nothing ever comes out. It’s always silence. Always.
I walked through the hallways of my new school, and I was so glad not to see any of those piercing glares anymore. Everyone used to hate being my partner in classes back at my old school, mainly because, well, I can’t speak, or in other words, I’m mute. No matter how hard I tried -and trust me, I did- I could never make a peep out of my mouth, and that’s something I can never change. That is why everyone was annoyed at me and my stupid attempts at trying to talk to them with sign language.
I looked at the walls, the lockers, and the people. A new school, a new life, and this is where it begins. I thought to myself. To be honest, this school is WAY bigger than my old one, and I mean SUPER big. I honestly feel like it’s similar to going through a corn maze back at my old community festival. Long story short, the last time I did a corn maze, it did not go too well without a way to communicate with my teammates. But surprisingly, I found my way around the school just by asking the adults that monitor every corner. I wasn’t expecting there to be any since it’s already been one week since school has started here, but I can see why people need adults around. I carry a notepad with me, so I can write down the things I say. I do get weird looks from the teachers as I quickly move my pen to write what I needed to ask, but other than that, it went pretty smoothly.
I walked into the room, and I was greeted with the scent of lavender and the calm fall breeze leaking in from the open window.
“Come on in! It’s nice to meet you.” The teacher said with a peppy and bouncy voice. “My name is Mrs. Silvia! I will be your homeroom, and science teacher this year.”
I looked around the class and I saw most people were already at their seats. So I clicked my pen and was prepared to write my answer to any questions she asks next.
“So guys, can I have all of your attention please?” She asked everyone, and the class slowly faded from loud, to medium, to quiet. I guess that’s how people respond to someone who’s loud enough to be heard. Lucky.
“Good morning everyone! Today our new student will be joining our class today,” she told everyone, and then her head turned towards me. “Would you like to introduce yourself?” She asked. I immediately scribbled my answer on my note pad, trying to make it big and legible, and I held it up to my class. It said “My name is June, short for Junalia.” People had odd faces while they read the words written on the page, and I could almost hear their thoughts loud and clear in my head. Why’d she write it down, and Is she too shy to ACTUALLY talk or something?
“She is writing on her notepad because she is mute, which means that she was born without a voice,” She concluded, then turned to me again and whispered, “You can go sit in that empty chair in the back over there.” So I walked to where she was pointing to and hooked my backpack straps on the corners of the chair, then sat down. I looked to my right, and there was a girl. She had light brown hair, tied in a medium high ponytail. I am going to be here everyday in the morning, so I can’t just sit here and not do anything. I have to write to her, which is now my new phrase. Instead of talking to them, I’m gonna say “write to them,” because that makes more sense in my case. I rambled on in my head.
Mrs. Silvia started talking about how excited she was to be our homeroom teacher, and then she told us to just chat for a bit while she goes to get something from the printer at the library. I turn and urge myself to tap on her and wave, or maybe that’s too weird? Actually, nevermind, I won’t do anything. I don’t want to seem too desperate, I mean tapping on someone just to wave is a bit much, right? Yes… but I need to make friends, I can’t just-
“HI! I love your name so much!! It’s so pretty. June is my favorite month, it’s when my birthday is.”
Before I knew it the girl I wanted to write to was talking to me! I was stunned for a second, and then started scribbling down my answer, underneath what I wrote to show the class.
“Thanks, June is my favorite month too. What’s your name?” I wrote. She leaned in and skimmed her blue eyes across the sheet of paper.
“My name’s Lea, short for Lea,” She replied and giggled. I puffed air out as I giggled too.
Her laugh was so elegant, so soft, yet loud enough to make anyone else around her laugh as well. I wish I had that. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around last year. You‘re new, right? You didn’t transfer from another homeroom or something?”
I scribbled as fast as I could “No, I’m new. It’s kind of hard to make friends since, well, you know.” I pointed to my throat, and smiled.
“You don’t have to worry, I think you’re pretty cool, even if you don’t have a voice. So, I guess you could call me your friend from now on,” She proclaimed with a big smile.
“Thank you. You don’t have to be if you don’t want to. I know it can be very annoying to have a plain conversation with me. It takes forever. I would hate it if I were you, lol,” I wrote.
“Don’t be like that. You’re an amazing person, and I’ve only been talking to you for, like, I don’t know. About five minutes, so that says a lot.”
I smiled at her and nodded. Lea might be right. I should stop being so hard on myself sometimes.
“Do you live close by?” I asked on the paper.
“Yeah, just around the corner, near that farmhouse over there; if you’ve seen it before.”
“Woah. I LIVE in that farmhouse now! We’re neighbors!”
“That’s insane! I mean, talk about a small world, am I right?” Lea stated with glee.
* * * *
I was surprised to see Lea at Social Studies class, yet it filled me with happiness to see her again after we sat together during lunch. It was the end of a foggy day, just one class left. She propped up next to me with a large smile on her face, bright enough to run the fog away from school.
“Ya wanna walk home with me today? It’ll be fun!”
I didn’t know what else to say, so I nodded.
The smile on my face never left the second we opened the doors of the school to head on home. I know It’s been literally seven hours of time I’ve spent with Lea, but I’ve cherished every moment. To be honest, I’m proud. Proud of the way I am, if I have a voice or not. Lea showed me that. I have never found a person like her, and I never will.
She grabbed my hand hard, and pulled me to make me run down the stairs behind her.
“You might not have a voice, but you do have legs! RACE YA!” Lea exclaimed, and dashed down the remainder of the stairs like she had no care in the world. Of course, she was right, I do have legs. But I’m not gonna let her prove that her’s are better than mine, so I ran after her across the grass, which sprayed cold trickles of water onto my ankles. I felt the September breeze in my hair, and once in a while stepping on the crunchy leaves that smushed the grass and brought bubbles of water to the surface. Lea’s silky hair swayed behind her as I followed her with all my might.
“HA! I beat you! You’re going to need to get a bit better at running if you wanna join the track team with me, but I promise we will do this everyday, and we will see if you can beat me then,” Lea said with a smirk on her proud face.
I smiled and playfully punched the side of her arm. My mind was spinning. Lea will change lives some day, I just know it! I mean, she already changed mine.
Lea slowly started walking backwards on the crosswalk, with her arms stretched out like she was queen on a throne who just won a football game. I personally would actually like to see that.
One step. Two steps. Three steps backwards, slowly walking towards the other side. It's like it was going in slow motion. I heard a sound to my right. Rocks crumbling on the watery tar. I looked at it, but I couldn’t stop it, no matter how much I wanted to. Lea turned around, her head facing away from me. I reached my hand out, but I couldn’t scream. LEA! THE CAR!! I couldn’t. I just couldn’t do it! Air puffed out of my throat with immense force, hurting the back of my mouth like a piercing needle stabbing me every time I tried to take another breath. MOVE LEA! MOVE!!!
“AAAAAAAaaahhh!!!” She let out a blood curdling scream that could crack tears out of anyone’s eyes. When the car passed her, she turned around the second it grazed her hands. Her foot…
“I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING!! OOWW!! IT HURTS SO BAD!” She exploded with pain, scrunching her eyelids while leaning down and grabbing her shattered foot.
How? It happened so fast. I just stood there, eyes wide, like if I’d blink I could die at any second. My breath was shaky.
“Oh god, my foot. I can’t feel it.” She was facing away from me. Every word she uttered out was a punch to my stomach. The guilt consumed me like it was hungry for tears. I shook off the fire in my stomach, and booked it to Lea, leaned down and put my hand on her shoulder. She had both of her hands holding her foot. Her face was red, and her chin was dripping with tears. I mouthed the words are you okay? to her, and she shook her head, and started breathing heavily to help the pain. I stood up and took her hand. I couldn’t help her before it happened, so all I can do now, and help her end it.
She leaned on her left leg, the leg that she was able to put pressure on. She wrapped her arm around my shoulders, gripping her fingers in my shirt, hard. I can’t imagine how much pain she was in. That car didn’t think of stopping, that lit the fire in my stomach again. I held her waist, and supported her as she hops to the rhythm of my walking, all the way to the other side of the road. I let go of her and slowly let her down on the grass.
“I need to-” she took a deep breath, and shot the air out of her mouth, “I need to call someone, anyone. W-we have to call the ambulance.” I hurried and pulled my phone out of the back pocket of my jeans. I clicked the emergency button and typed 911, and handed it to Lea. She pressed speaker so we could both hear, and she anxiously waited for someone to pick up.
“911, what’s your emergency?” They answered.
“Hello, my name is Lea Martin, a car ran over my foot and it hurts so bad! Please send someone to help me,” she cried, barely able to get the words out. My eyes stung. I can’t explain how bad I feel for making her be this way. If only I had a voice that I could have used to save her. I could have stopped all of this from happening. I’m just… sorry. For her even sitting next to me in homeroom. For her talking to me. It would have been better if I didn’t have any friends. I’m just a hazard to people. My silence could have possibly killed her. But now, all it was doing...is killing me.
After she ended the call, me and Lea were sitting there in the soggy grass, trying to distract ourselves from what just happened. Lea tried to make me laugh, by saying random things, and making weak silly faces. She would suddenly grunt from the pain, but then go back to what she was doing. I was astonished. How could she possibly go through so much suffering, and still have that smile on her face. I could tell the pain numbed her from feeling her ankle and toes, but still. I have to learn to do that. The fact that I was more scared than she was still couldn’t process in my brain.
So I took out my notepad from my backpack, and wrote, “How are you so strong, you were in so much pain. Now it’s like it never happened.”
“I’m not strong. Not even a little. I just put on a strong face for the people around me, because I hate seeing people sad for my sake,” Lea responded, her voice weak.
“I’m sorry. This was all my fault. Please forgive me,” I wrote, holding my note pad under my slumped head.
“No!” She yelled. I jumped back, not expecting that to be her response. “Don’t you DARE say you’re sorry. This was not your fault. You couldn’t have controlled it, and you were born like this. If it was anyone’s fault, it should be mine. I was the one who was being reckless and wasn’t looking around properly. I should be the one saying sorry, making you feel guilty like this. This is not your fault, okay?”
My chin quivered. My eyes scrunched up. My eyebrows curved upwards. The tears flowed down my cheeks without my consent. I sobbed, silently, like everything else I could ever do. She leaned forward, and hugged me. I sobbed even harder, shaking her body with mine, and hugged her back.
“Don’t worry, I will be okay, and so will you,” She said with a soft, comforting tone.
The ambulance arrived 15 minutes prior to when she got hurt. The nurses took Lea’s shoe and sock off and saw that it was majorly damaged because of the swelling. She cried and screamed when they tried taking it off, so they came in with a stretcher, and lifted her onto it. I stood up and walked with them. They put her into the back of the ambulance.
“Would you like to go with her?” One of the nurses asked. I nodded and hopped on next to where she was lying down. She smiled at me, and I smiled back. I gave her my phone again, to call her mom, and I texted mine to tell her where I was going. Then the ambulance started moving, and we chatted like it was second nature. Joking around, laughing, and relating with each other.
I might never lose the guilt I had today, but I can learn to move on, like Lea did. I just have to get to know myself, little by little. Because, my mouth is just… there. It doesn’t do anything apart from consuming food. It can form words, but nothing ever comes out. It’s always silence. But sometimes, the way you are can bring you friends, no matter how many mistakes you make. They love you for who you are. And my silence is what bonds me to Lea. It’s what she likes about me. And that’s something I would never change.