An average day at school. I'm sitting in class, staring idly at a group of my friends and fellow classmates. Their mouths are moving, they're talking and laughing together. I don't hear a sound.
'Speak up... please speak up, just a little...'
What is this sudden feeling? Is it helplessness? Self-pity towards myself? Hatred towards them? I would be lying if I said I wasn't jealous. Of course I am. Every person feels jealous, disabled people especially. I'm a strong person. I'm a leader, I'm a fighter. I've overcome my disability, I have! I've learned to deal with it! There isn't a single person in that group that isn't just like me!
I feel like I'm breaking down. I can't, not now. Not in the middle of my classroom, with everyone around me. I reach down and cling to my chair, digging my nails hard into the wooden seat. I take a few deep breaths and try to calm down, but the thoughts just won't leave my mind.
I have always understood I would never speak. That isn't so bad, to be honest. Compared to so many other things, muteness is truly not so bad.
However, there was a time in my life, when I was much younger, that I thought I could hear things. I thought if people just spoke a little louder, I could join in and be like everyone else. If people raised their voices just a tiny bit, I could smile and laugh and tell jokes, too. My ears aren't broken like my voice, they just can't hear people when they whisper.
'Just a little louder, please. There's no need to whisper. Louder... say it again, louder! Please! Please say it louder! I'm begging you!'
I feel a knot in my stomach, growing larger by the second; winding itself tighter and tighter, until I actually start to feel cramps. I release my death-grip on my seat and give my stomach a gentle pat and turn to Misha's desk to alert her that I intend to leave class early. She isn't beside me anymore. She's gone to them, talking.
Another wave of jealousy washes over me and my stomach feels like it's going to burst. I glance down at the papers on my desk, trying to busy my mind. There's no need to think like this. I haven't had an attack like this in so, so long.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I notice Misha waving to me. I look up and she signs, come join the fun, Shicchan! I shake my head, I want to stay here.
Is something wrong? she asks, and says something to the other students, who are now all looking at me, too. I take a moment to analyze my appearance - sweating, palms pressed flat against my desk, breathing heavily. Visibly upset.
I haven't responded, so Misha signs again. Shicchan, you don't look so good! She starts to walk over to me. No, no, nonono. I quickly stand and force an awfully fake smile. I'm okay, I lie, how are things coming along?
Slowly! We've spent most of this time joking around! Why does that not surprise me? Misha is easily side-tracked. I use that to my advantage to get her, and everyone else, away from me. To be honest, in the midst of all this, I had forgotten what the class project was, anyway.
Get back to work, Misha! I scold her with a smile. I can't wait to see the finished result. I'll join in soon, I just have some class rep stuff to sort out.
Oh, alright. She takes the bait, grins and turns on her heels to go back to the rest.
I heave a sigh and sit back down, shakily clutching the edges of my seat again. I close my eyes and try to focus my anxiety, try and get it out of my system.
In my mind, I scream. I scream as loud as I can. I scream about things I hate, things I love, things I want to do with my life. I scream about the hurt I feel knowing I'll never hear beautiful music, or even the voice of my best friend. I scream about the pain I feel knowing I'll never say I single word, not even a grunt or a little whimper of a sound. I scream knowing I'll never hear 'I do' on my wedding day, or say it back - not that anyone would ever want me.
I scream and scream and scream, for what feels like forever. I feel somewhat better, so I keep my word to Misha and join her and the others. She pats my shoulder and smiles at me.
Glad you're here. You made it just in time! she points to some glittery paint and craft tools. We're about to paint the class sign!
Let's get to it then, shall we? I sign to everyone, Misha translates and they all nod and smile.
I am Shizune Hakamichi. My birthday is May 6th, my sign is Taurus, my blood is type O, and, in a room full of people, I scream and no one can hear me. It's a reality I'll accept one day.