The Girl Who Stutters and The Boy Who Mutters

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I walk down the high school corridors, self-consciously pulling my books closer to my chest. I can't help but to always feel as though people are staring at me even when they're looking away. School is a dangerous place for someone like me, a place where no one else seems to understand that I can't control my struggles.


I push my hair back behind my ear, hoping to make it to my locker unscathed this time. Some mornings here are much easier than others, but I still have to be on high alert.


I reach my locker and breathe out a sigh of relief, usually once I make it here I'm safe until third period. But I've clearly spoken too soon when I open my locker and hear the nickname that I'd been given second grade being yelled from down the hall.


"Hey Disability!" Nathaniel yells at me waving with a few of his friends laughing around him while he walks towards me.


Before I knew better than to get upset about the nickname, I used to cry about it every time I got called it. Which was actually quite a bit. The first time I was called it was on my first day at the new elementary school that I had transferred to. I had been trying to make friends at the time, something I don't do very often anymore, and it backfired on me. I've learned the true value of ignoring people through those experiences. High school students can be rude and immature sometimes, so I've tried not to take any of it to heart.


I shove the rest of my stuff into my locker quickly and turn to look at Nathan as he continues to get closer to me. It's times like these where I wish that I had at least a best friend in this school. Someone who could back me up in my times of need. I've always believed that everyone is a protagonist in their own story, everyone is going through their own struggles. If I'm truly a protagonist in whatever story my life is going to be then shouldn't I have already met my stereotypical partner in crime? The cliche best friend who always has my back in my times of need? Maybe I skipped over that cliche, doomed to not have any real friends for the rest of my natural born life. Maybe I'm not even a real protagonist.


But I know for certain that Nathan is the antagonist.


Nathan plays off the privileged asshole stereotype very well, probably getting it from both of his parents. He gave me the nickname that's been haunting me for years after one of his friends told him that I liked him. Ever since then it's been nothing but bullying and bad blood.


"My Mom told me that your family is coming over for dinner tonight," Nathan says smirking down at me. "I was told to remind you that it's a uptight dinner so you should probably dress up for it. I know you probably don't even know what 'dressing up' looks like, but just throw on a dress and you should be fine."


I stare up at the handsome brunette boy, catching his last insult but pushing it to the back of my mind. I'm more concerned about going to dinner with him tonight. My parents told me that we were going out with some rich family to introduce them to some new company that my dad is working on, but they never told me that it would be Nathan's family. And they most certainly know how I feel about Nathan.


"Did you forget how to talk again?" Nathan asks after a minute of me just staring at him. "C'mon, breathe in and out, then think real hard about what it would be like to talk like a normal person. Instead of s-s-stuttering all the t-time."


I can feel my heart begin to beat a little bit faster in my chest as Nathan attacks the core of my disability. People wouldn't immediately assume that someone would get as much shit about stuttering as I do. They probably wouldn't even believe how cruel other people can be about something that's completely out of someone else's control.


My stuttering has always been a part of my life. I was born with it as a result of a few different birth defects. My mother went through a really hard time having me. Two miscarriages before successfully having me, but not without a few complications.


"L-leave me alone N-Nathan," I stammer out before slamming my locker door shut and turning around to walk away from him.


I can hear his friends making comments about me and laughing as I walk away from them. I clench my jaw tightly, trying my hardest to drown out the insults. Telling myself to just let it go.


It's nothing new Cassia. It's nothing new.




"H-How could you d-do this to m-me?" I ask my parents as we step out of the car. "You know what h-he's done t-to me."


"I know sweetheart," my mother places her arm around my shoulder soothingly. "But your father needs to make this deal, this could be big for him. And Nathan's parents wanted to meet all of us. So just keep your chin up and stick it out just for dinner."


"But-"


"Cassia," my father looks down at me with a friendly smile as he tightens his tie. "Just do it for me, okay? And if this boy tries anything then I'll beat him up for you. Deal?"


"Fine," I say looking down at my feet. "Let's just g-get this over w-with."


I follow my parents around to the other side of the car, looking up and finally getting a glance of Nathan's house. I'd never seen it in person, however I have seen pictures of it on social media a few times, and those don't even do it justice.


The mansion is gigantic and gorgeous. Everything has an incredibly rural yet modern feel to it. I follow my parents up the incredibly long set of stairs, panting a little bit when we finally make it to the top. I opted on wearing a little blue sundress with plain black flats for my shoes and I've never been more proud of a decision before in my life. Had I decided to wear those six inch heals that my mother had presented with me earlier then I don't think I would have even made it into the house.


When we finally step over the last stair we're met with a wide open door, leading us into one of the most expensive looking houses that I have ever been in. I expect to be greeted by a butler, but I'm surprised when a man and a woman just about my parents' age jumps out of nowhere and scares us all half to death.


The man is much taller than the woman, his large arm dangling around her slim shoulders. They both smile at us genuinely, the lady's hand holding on to the hand that's hanging from her shoulder. I smile at them a little bit, assuming that they're a couple. I don't always see a lot of cute couples, but just from looking at them in the ten seconds that I've seen them, it would seem as though they were made for eachother.


"Jonas!" The man moves forward and holds out his hand for my dad to shake. They do a little man hug before the man's gaze shifts over to me and my mom. This guy is the kind of older guy that the girls at my school would probably be drooling over. Obviously far too old for them, but also far too handsome for any of them to care. "And this must be the family I assume?"


"Yes this is my wife Kate," my dad reaches down and holding mom's hand before nodding over to me. "And that's our daughter, Cassia."


"Nice to meet you guys," the man reaches out and shakes mine and mom's hands. "I'm Scott Rogers. And that looker over there is my wife, Abby. The kids are in the other room helping set up for dinner. I guess it's as good of a time as any to introduce you guys."


We finish all of the introductions with Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, Nathan's parents being surprisingly more pleasant than I had originally pictured them. My parents and I follow them into the next room. We walk straight into a large dining room, the entire space being filled by one long table with several fancy looking chairs placed around it.


Three of the spaces are already occupied by three people, Nathan being one of them. As soon as we walk into the room his eyes snap over to mine and a noticeable smirk makes its way onto his face.


"I'd like you guys to meet our three little asshole," Mr. Rogers walks over to the head of the table with Mrs. Rogers besides him. "This is Nathan and the twins, Lauren and Colton. None of them are good for much, but sometimes they're good company."


I snicker a little bit at Mr. Rogers' snide comments as he walks over and lightly taps Colton on the back of his head. Mr. Rogers seems to resemble a much more mature version of Nathan, much more polite than his son could have ever been to me.


Everyone gathers around in a little circle and greets each other. Lauren and Colton are much more tame and friendly than what I would've taken them for. I never see them around school as much as I see Nathaniel, probably because they're in the grade below us, but I've certainly heard a lot about each of the Rogers' children. The twins are much more involved in the artsy theatre department of our high school which is another part that I like to stray away from. The girl who stutters wouldn't necessarily be a great pick for any sort of onstage role.


"Disability," Nathan is suddenly standing in front of me as the rest of his family converses with mine. "Fancy seeing you here."


I look at him for a moment before turning and walking away from him. I pull out a chair and take a seat at the table, ignoring the boy completely just like I always have. I've found that talking back at him only fires him along so it's best to leave the situation alone completely.


Dinner starts out pretty smoothly. My father and Scott's father discuss whatever business they have to talk about, most of it going straight over my head. I don't talk for a while, letting my head fall low and focusing mostly on the food.


And my tactic works for a while, no one really pays much attention to me. That is until Mrs. Rogers decides to say something.


"What about you Cassia?" She asks me and I sit up straight, looking back at her with semi-widened eyes. "What'd you like to do? Are you into theater or any sports at all?"


"No n-not me," Mrs. Rogers cocks her eyebrow up when she hears my stutter from surprise. I frown a little bit as she and her husband stare at me as though I've said something wrong. "I d-don't... I m-mean I c-can't talk right."


"Oh," she stares at me for another second and I can't help but to feel as though she's completely judging me right now. I quickly look down at my lap, the silence in the room making me feel completely exposed. I can almost feel Nathan's smirk burning into the side of my head. "You have a speech deficiency?"


"Yes," I say softly.


"I did too," I look up slowly to see her smiling at me as though she's smiling at an old friend. "A long time ago. It's almost a time that I can't really even remember. It was hard."


"You s-stuttered?" I ask her, and she nods with a knowing smile on her face. "How b-bad w-was it?"


"Bad," she says with a small smile on her face. She looks over at Mrs. Rogers accusingly. "I got bullied about it a lot, by one person in particular."


"Are we still talking about this?" Mr. Rogers sighs as he looks back at his wife. "I was young and dumb. I didn't know what I was saying."


"I think you did," she rolls her eyes at him. "But I'm not getting into this with you again. Anyways, I know what you're probably thinking and you don't have to worry sweetheart. None of us are going to be judging you here. Nathan, Colton, and Lauren are all good kids. I understand how it feels."


"Thank you," I smile at her genuinely. "That m-means a lot t-to me."


"Don't worry about it," she says back. "Everyone goes through a rough time in their life at one point or another and some people just don't understand. But it's not getting other people to understand you that matters, it's you deciding to not care if they don't."




Dinner eventually wraps up and it honestly went much better than I had originally thought that it would. All interactions with Nathan were kept to a bare minimum which also made my night all the better. However, at one point I excused myself to step outside in order to get some fresh air, feeling entirely too overwhelmed by everything going on tonight.


I stare up at the dark night sky, reveling in how there are absolutely no stars out tonight. It' always somewhat of a conundrum to me how some nights the sky can be completely filled with stars, yet other days it's just black. My thoughts are soon interrupted by a voice coming from behind me.


"What're you looking at?"


I look over to see Nathan standing besides me looking up at the sky. He shifts his eyes to look over at me when I don't answer him.


"Not talking, eh?" I turn away from him and look back up at the sky. "Look, I know I probably seem like an asshole-"


"Y-you are an asshole."


"Established," he nods his head in agreement. "It's all in good fun though, right? You know I don't mean any of it."


"What?" I look over at him not at all expecting for him to say that. I've gone years verbally abused by this guy and all of his friends and he wants to joke around and say that it was 'all in good fun'? "What're y-you trying t-to say?"


"I don't know," he says shaking his head. "I just don't know. I want to... apologize."


"What?"


"I know," he reaches up at rubs at his forehead. "It probably sounds crazy. But I'm not a bad guy Cassia, at least not here. Not at home. I'm a different guy at school. Everyone's a different person at school."


"I'm n-not."


"Everyone except you," he nods. "I know that you probably won't understand because you've never really been popular at school, but-"


"You're h-here to t-talk to me about why I-I wouldn't understand y-your popularity?" I turn to him with my arms folded. "If s-so then you m-might as well j-just leave me alone."


"That's not what I'm trying to say," Nathan shakes his head. "Just... if I'm mean to you at school know that I don't mean nothing by it. It's not me so don't let it hurt you."


"D-don't let it h-hurt me?" I almost laugh at that line. "Thank you s-so much for y-your insight Nathaniel. I'll m-make sure t-to do that. N-now leave me alone."


I turn away from Nathan and quickly walk back inside, away from Nathan and away from his bullshit.


When I get inside I look around and see Mr. and Mrs. Rogers laughing with each other with the cutest smiles on their faces. I can't help but to wonder what their entire story has been. However it's gone, it sure seems to have given them a happy ending. The perfect end to a book that everyone wants to read.


But as I stand here and look around, thinking of all of the possibilities that could happen in this life, I can't help but to think about how no one ever wants to read about the sad endings. About the character that does end up dying. The character who doesn't end up winning the final battle. The girl who stutters, but doesn't fall in love.


I don't think that many people realize that it's not the happy ending that matters. It's not whether or not the guy and the girl end up together that matters. It's how that character and the characters around them have grown. The moral of the story seems to have gotten lost within all of the conflict and romance that's shoved down people's throats nowadays.


I'm not going to let that happen with my life story though. Stutter or no stutter, not every story needs to end with the girl ending up with some guy. If it happens it happens. But I don't want my story to just be another romance or depressing young adult book. I want to live lots of different lives full of lots of different genres. And the way to do that isn't by focusing on whatever shit Nathan is saying to me or any of the bad vibes everyone at school seems to throw me. High school is temporary.


But my life is basically forever in my eyes.


And I intend to make the best of it.



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