My fingers pause over the keys of my laptop as the silence began to fill my ears. It was a brief moment not longer than a couple of seconds as the tracks on my iPod switched. A couple of seconds to remember everything. As soon as the opening beats of the next song began to fill the void, I could feel my body instantly slump. It was a weird feeling, suddenly remembering so much pain in nanoseconds, and it always left me so exhausted. If I were to visit my therapist they would tell me its residual anger, but considering the circumstances, these are assumptions I'm only left to make. I close my eyes for a second to as I reminded myself to breathe, and when I opened them, I could see the door to my room crack open. I slip my noise canceling headphones off of my ears just as my younger sister pops her head into my room. My ears feel cold from the sheen of sweat that formed from my headphones.
"Hey onii-chan," Yuzu's smile was soft. "Dinner will be ready in a couple of minutes if you'd like to come down and join us."
Yuzu pauses for a second to see if I'll say anything. I don't, of course. She gives me another small smile before nodding her head and closing the door behind her. I feel like this has hit her the hardest. Of the three of us, Yuzu is the easy kid. She's never shed a tear, has a good attitude, a little mom in the making, even at twelve years old. When we were younger I remember singing cartoon intros with her and reading her bed time stories. Whenever I see her worry over me, it makes me feel even guiltier over everything and I hate myself just a little more. I slip my headphones back over my ears before there's a chance for the silence to make its way back into my life. Back to remind me of the darkness I could never escape.
I take a couple of deep breaths before I push my chair back and stand up, making sure to snatch my iPod off of my desk. I slip the ancient brick into my back pocket as I make my way down the stairs. I smile to myself slightly as I think about how the music flowing through my ears creates a soundtrack to my life. Like I'm in a movie and the song in the background depicts what kind of scene is about to occur. The smile slips off my face before there's a chance for anyone to see it.
When I finally reach the bottom landing of the stairs I see everyone already making their way to their designated spots around the table. Karin is pushing mom into her seat at the head of the table, the handles of her wheelchair flush against the underside. My mom looks up at me with a smile on her face, her love emitting from her in a way that pains my heart. I head over to her side to give her a quick kiss on the cheek and adjust the blanket draped against her legs. Sometimes I wonder why she put a blanket it across her lap when she couldn't feel anything from the waist down. I try to banish the thought quickly because it makes me feel like a bad son. But a lot of things I've done lately makes me feel like a bad son.
As I slip the headphones from my ears, I take my seat next to her as Karin takes her spot to my side. Downstairs I don't need to drown on the silence. People always wonder what it's like living with twins. When I was middle school my friends who hadn't met my sisters would ask me if I would ever mix the two up. Back then I would always just laugh, because if Yuzu was the sun, then Karin would be the moon. Despite having the same face, Karin and Yuzu had completely different hair. Yuzu had our mom's light colored hair, where Karin got our father's dark genes. Karin kept to herself, studied enough to get by, and lived out doors. She was loud, brash, and didn't take shit from anyone. I always like to think that she was strong enough to take on the world. If something ever happened to her, she'd speak out. At least I'd hope she would.
"Doctor Unohana has some new tests she'd like to try with you."
I look up, my dad is pushing the food that Yuzu served him around on his plate. He looks up at me with expectant eyes, like I'm suddenly going to acknowledge what he just said. I don't break eye contact with him, but I don't say anything either.
He lets out a tired sigh. "She said there's been developments in hypno-therapy that has showed promising results." He pauses again. "She'd like to try it with you at your meeting next week."
I blink a couple of times before I nod again, taking a bite of my food at the same time. My dad nods back before changing the subject. We try not to talk about me too much at the dinner table, I notice. I assume it's because it dampens the mood of family time. The rest of dinner is filled with the sound of Yuzu telling us about her day at school. Karin comments about how she has a soccer tournament coming up and she'd like us to go. I feel her nudge me with her knee under the table, sharp eyes staring at me until I respond that I'll go, a slight nod and nothing more. She seems content with this. Out of everyone in my family, Karin took to my silence the best. I'm not sure if it's because she's a naturally quiet person, or if she's doing it because everyone else is always pressuring me.
Pressuring me. At the thought body seizes. I don't think it's noticeable to the rest of the table, but suddenly my heart is pound hard in my chest and it feels like it's about to pop out and keep beating on the table. A sheen of sweat breaks out on the back of my neck. The back of my ears grow hot the way they always do when I get nervous. My breathing begins to labor and I can feel myself choking on the small amount of food I had managed to eat. I don't say anything as I quickly push myself away from the dinner table and sprint upstairs. I run into the bathroom connected to my bedroom, throwing the lid of the toilet seat up and emptying my stomach into the waiting bowl.
Silent tears fall down my face, but I barely register them. The silence around me is so loud and I'm a blubbering mess on the floor. I try to reach for my headphones. Try to block out the silence that's filling the small space around me. I pull the headphones over my ears, loud music instantly filling the space. I roll on to my back and stare at the patterns on my ceiling. I'm still crying, hot tears rolling down my cheeks. I close my eyes, but images and memories are brought to the forefront of my mind. I snap my eyes open, too scared to even blink.
I let out a deep sigh as I walked towards the front of the school. I fell asleep on the floor the previous night and my back and throat were sore. I rubbed my hand across my face, as if that would take away the tiredness. I adjusted one of the ear buds as I was wearing in attempt to block out the sound of the hallway with little luck. I didn't say anything to anyone as I made my way to my classroom. I saw familiar faces of people I've grown up with my whole life, people who used to be my best friends up until a few months ago. Grey and purple eyes stared at me as I walked passed Orihime and Rukia. Rukia's eyes narrowed, but Orihime was looking at me with such love that I knew I didn't deserve. I looked away quickly as I turned up the volume on my iPod.
I can pinpoint the exact moment that I stopped talking. I can remember the last words that I spoke and who I said them too. I can remember the first time that I rejected my friends attempts to help me. I can remember the moment I knew they gave up on me. I can remember the time on the clock the first time I genuinely felt a lone. I can also remember the first time that I was okay with it.
School, like every day that I actually attended, droned on. If I had choice, I wouldn't show up. I did my work, but because I never talked, I never participated. I didn't sit with anyone at lunch, at least not anymore. The only days that I came to school was when I needed to a sense of normalcy. After a night like last night, school was exactly what I needed.
I stared down the essay that paper my creative-writing teacher placed on my desk. I looked at the seventy written in angry-red marker. It was circled a couple of times and there was a 'Stay After Class' note written in at the side. I thought it was weird. I knew there were students with worse scores than me. I looked over my shoulder at the teacher who was walking down the aisle placing papers on the other student's desk. He must have felt me staring because he looked back, a blue eyebrow lifting. Cerulean eyes bore into me in a way that made feel like he could see all my secrets. My cheeks heated and I turned away, staring at my paper again. I tried to look interest in the marks that he made on my paper, trying to see where I went wrong. If there was any subject that I was good at it was creative writing. It was an elective I took every year. A class a scored well in, up until this moment. I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, just one of the many secrets I kept to myself.
I couldn't concentrate during class. We were supposed to write a short story with a dark undertone. The teacher wanted us to tap into a memory that struck with us and pour it into our story. He said it would give depth, make the reader feel connected to the plot. He said that everyone can relate to a dark story when there was a history behind it. I laughed. No one could relate.
By the time that class was over and the rest of the students rushed to put their things away, after school just waiting on the other side of the door. I stay seated, putting my things away slowly. I looked up at where the teacher was waiting behind his desk. He was wearing reading glasses that aged him way beyond his years as he marked the paper in front of him. Grimmjow Jaegerjaques was a new teacher to the school, he started at the beginning of the term three months ago. He came from America to teach English and creative writing after the previous English teacher's visa expired. He was young, only 22, and beautiful which made on the girls blush. Shameless girls always tried to get him to tutor them and guys asked what his workout routine was like. It was weird to think that I was supposed to learn from someone who was only a few years my senior. He insisted everyone called him Mr. G and I kind of hated it. His hair was blue the color of the cotton candy my dad used to get me whenever we visited the amusement park. I always wondered if it was natural. It made him seem even younger and made it hard to take him seriously.
As if he knew I was thinking of him, he looked up. He removed the glasses that slid down his straight nose and placed them on the desk. I stood up from my own and made my way to the front of the class so I was directly before him. I sat on the top of the desk and waited for him to say something. He didn't. Silence filtered in and it was starting to make my ears itch. I tried to ignore the gnawing that was forming at the back of my head, but it wasn't working. The silence was so loud.
"Are you okay, Mr. Kurosaki?" His voice was soft, a low baritone that shook my bones. I didn't say anything. Silence settled in again. "Mr. Kurosaki?"
He had to have known. At the start of the term my dad made sure that all the teachers and staff knew that I stopped talking. That I was responsive, I could write, I listened. At first I was embarrassed, it was like a free pass. Because I was suddenly mute that I was broken or something. Teachers who had known me for the past three years, teachers who used to call me out for talking back to them, teachers who would send me into the hallway because I couldn't stop laughing when a classmate said 'orgasm' instead of 'organism,' walked on eggshells around me. They didn't question me when I wouldn't show up to school for weeks, but still aced the test they handed out. He had to have known.
"Do you choose not to talk or can't you talk?"
I looked up. Blue eyes boring again, searching. He looked down at the paper in front of him and marked something.
"The teachers are thinking that you're choosing not to talk. Some belated rebellion of some sort." More scribbling. "I think something happened that's keeping you from talking."
I've heard this before. Doctor Unohana told me this same line during our first session. It's the reason why I like her so much. She was the first to say that. All the other doctors just wanted to do tests. Doctor Unohana actually talked to me. There was a second or two of silence before I heard Mr. G clear his throat.
"I didn't ask you to stay after class to see if you'd talk to me."
I watched as he leaned back into his chair.
"I wanted to talk to you about your last paper. A seventy is still a passing grade, so you're not in trouble. It just seems weird that an A-student like you would drop thirty points." Mr. G reached for a file that was on his desk. He flip the front open and I recognized my handwriting instantly. "You're incredibly talented you know."
I caught his gaze. There was a sincerity that I've missed these past few months.
"Your old teacher left me some of the work from promising students. A lot of them were yours." He pushed the folder to me.
I reached for it, my eyes reading bits and pieces of the stories, the poems, the drafts that I had written. I could tell this was a different me. This wasn't the Ichigo sitting in front of Mr. G. He could sense that. It made me wonder if he was disappointed. My heart hurt at the thought of disappointing someone. Honestly, that was worse than someone being mad at you.
"If you're up for the extra work, I have a couple of extra assignments I could give you." He took a sip from the travel mug in front of him. It made me wonder if he was a tea or coffee drinker. I nod. "Okay, I'll set up a few assignments and get back to you later this week."
I found myself staring into the bottom of the ocean. Mr. G's gaze was strong and probing and as much as it should have made me uncomfortable, it didn't.
I could feel my eyes go wide. My fingers coming up to touch my lips. I'm sure the shock on Mr. G's face resembled my own. My voice was rough from lack of use and I sounded like I was going through puberty all over again. It was one word but it was more than I've said in the last few months or so. My heart was stammering in my chest and I felt like I was going to vomit. Mr. G didn't chase me as I bolted from his room. I was glad that he didn't because it scared me that I might talk again.
I didn't mean to write this honestly. I upgraded my computer recently and forgot to back up my recent chapters of Flashing Lights and So You've Returned. I've had a shit time trying to bring them back to what they once were, especially because they were almost completed, but it's just not happening.
So this little number popped in my head. Not sure when I'm gonna update this, but the story I want for this kept growing.
Let me know what you think.