1 ~ Tobias
“We need a bag of O-neg, stat! Shit! He’s going unconscious! We need Doctor Lee immediately!”
Everything goes dark and all the sounds fade out. A feeling of fear and immobilization washes over me. My body feels like lead. I almost feel lifeless.
I wake up hearing some voices from a distance. At first, I can’t make out what they’re saying. Then, I hear everything I never wanted to hear.
“I am sorry, ma’am, sir, but your son’s ability to speak again is slim to none.”
I shoot up, panting heavily. Cold sweat soaks my body but I feel overheated. Tears rim my eyes but I don’t let them fall. I can’t scream, I can’t make a sound, I can’t call for my dad. I can’t do anything but survive.
Once I calm myself down, I look at the time and grimace. 4:37 A.M. school starts at 8:00 A.M but I have to be there by 7:30. I would go back to sleep but I can’t. I never can. So, I decided to take a shower. I might even cook for my dad who wakes up at 5:15.
Walking into the bathroom conjoined to my bedroom, I strip then I step into the shower. I start the water and keep it cold. I need to cool off. I feel like I am in the pits of hell.
After a five minute cold shower, I get out and dry myself off. I then wrap my towel loosely around my hips and I walk to my closet.
Choosing my outfit is easy. It’s my ‘uniform’ as other people call it. Black jeans and a grey shirt with my black Vans. I put on a pair of black boxers before dressing in my clothes. Drying my hair off a bit more, I throw the towel into the hamper then I walk out of my room.
I walk downstairs and into the kitchen to see my dad leaning against the counter with a cup of water.
I got my looks from my dad. I have his hazel eyes, his hair, his nose, his lips, his face structure. I’m thankful for that. But I don’t have his skin tone. He has dark brown skin, like a little darker than milk chocolate while I have light brown skin like a roasted marshmallow. My mom is as white as can be. I honestly wish I can be as dark as my dad. I don’t want to look anything like my mother that abandoned my father and me in our toughest times.
Knocking twice on the wall, I get my dad’s attention and he turns around.
“What’s wrong?” I sign and dad sighs. The past two years have been tough for him and my mother. Ever since I became mute, dad and mom have been having marital issues. That later led to them getting a divorce.
Mom didn’t feel like putting in the effort and dad was trying his best for me.
“Just woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. What are you doing up?” He asks with another sigh and I shrug.
I’ve asked my dad how he feels when I can’t answer with the voice I used to have. He told me it was hard, but now he’s a little used to it.
“I’m gonna cook breakfast. Any special requests?” I sign and dad thinks for a minute before he tells me to make some bacon.
My poor, poor father has no skills in the kitchen other than making cereal and a sandwich. That’s all. Anything else and you can say goodbye to the house.
Dad sits at the island watching me as I silently but expertly move around the kitchen, whipping up my famous breakfast.
Not being able to talk has its ups and downs. One up is that I can do a lot without talking. After that night permanently took my voice, I found new things I can do without using my voice. One of them is being a cook.
Soon, breakfast is ready and served. I sit next to dad and we eat in silence other than the sound of the silverware scraping against the glass plates.
We finish our food and dad says he’ll wash the dishes. I try telling him that I can do them since he still needs to get ready for work but he sends one glare my way and I instantly give up the fight.
I dry the dishes and put them away as he tells me about his work. He is a police officer and one of the best ones too. His stories always make me happy, even if they are sometimes scary.
I once told him that I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be a police officer. He told me he’ll be thrilled to be working with his own son. But this was all before I lost my ability to speak. He says I can still do it, but I don’t really know anymore. It seems like it’ll be the biggest challenge I have ever faced. How am I supposed to be a cop when I can’t speak?
We finish putting the dishes away and dad goes up to his room to get ready.
We live in a two-story house with five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. There are two rooms upstairs along with 1 and a half bathrooms. Dad has the half-bathroom while I have the big one. When I had the accident, he gave me the biggest room in the house and he got the second biggest. He gave me the room because I fell into a coma for two months and I had so many machines attached to me. He didn’t want me to be in the hospital anymore so he brought me home.
I look at the time and I sigh deeply. It’s 5:45 right now and I am really bored. Before the accident, I would go on mile-long runs. I can’t do that now because, despite being mute, I have lung problems too.
It’s funny, really. I was the star quarterback for West Valley High in freshman year. I was the star quarterback for West Valley Middle too. Then, I took one bad tackle and I lost everything but also gained a broken rib that slightly punctured my lung. I lost my team, my voice, my mom, and all of my so-called ‘friends’. They all promised to be by my side through everything, but now they are my bullies.
One would think I would fight back. But I won’t. I used to see them as my family and some part of me still wants to. So that restricts me from fighting back. I just take all their insults, their punches, kicks, and hatred-filled glares. I ignore the sting of betrayal and I survive.
I walk outside and I breathe in the chilly air. I had surgery on my lung and I am fine but I can’t do a lot of exercises because my lung restricts me from breathing correctly while working out. That is why I quit the team. I would’ve been a liability if I stayed on the team.
The front door opens and dad walks out he gives me a one-armed hug before he goes to his black 2016 Chevy 4 by 4 truck and gets in. I watch as he drives away and I sigh before heading back into the house.
I go up to my room and I get my bag and phone. It’s going to be warm out today so I don’t need a jacket. I check the time and see that it is 6:00 A.M. I might as well just head to the school. The library is opened now, so I can just read while I wait for school to start. Besides, I can do some work we’re doing next week or something.
Walking back downstairs, I go to the kitchen and I turn everything off before I grab my keys from the key bowl. I walk out the door and I lock it before I go to my 1968 Dodge Charger. I get in and I start the engine before buckling and leaving the driveway.
I’ve had this car since last year and luckily, everyone knows not to mess with it. They know my dad is a cop and they don’t have the balls to mess up my car.
It normally takes me fifteen minutes to get to school from my house. Thirty if I feel like pissing people off. Ten if I feel like getting there early or if I want another breakfast. It’s pretty simple. Nothing special.
I make it to school and I see that some of the teachers are here. I see Coach Conner getting out of his truck and I sigh. He has never been mad at me, even when I did quit his team. He is just disappointed he lost one of his best players. He told me I can be the student coach, but with my situation with no voice and the team being my main bullies, I had to decline his offer.
I get out of my car after turning the engine off and I grab my bag from the passenger seat. I close and lock my doors then I start walking to the front entrance of the school. Coach sees me and he smiles, to which I smile back. Coach very rarely smiles so anyone should feel like royalty when he smiles at you.
When I make it up to him, he pulls me into a bro-hug and my smile widens. He still treats me like I haven’t lost everything.
“How are you doing, Smith?” Coach asks and I shrug.
“I am doing fine right now. I made a great breakfast again this morning,” I sign and Coach watches my hands intently. He learned sign language just for me so I can actually talk to him.
“Ah, that’s good. Would you say your cooking skills are improving?” I give him an energetic nod and he chuckles before leading me into the school. “Good. You should cook some of your famous spaghetti for me again. That stuff gives Italians a run for their money.”
I snort. “Yeah right.” Coach walks me all the way to the library, knowing that’s where I was headed. He turns to leave but stops, looking like he just remembered something.
“We’re getting a new student. She moved here from Chicago,” he informs me and I furrow my eyebrows. “I don’t know the full reason of why she is moving here. All I understand was that she was treated poorly. Maybe you can show her around? Welcome her to West Valley High?”
Me? Welcome a new girl? Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.