The Loudest Silence

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“Wake up!” A loud voice boomed in my ear. Rubbing my throbbing ear, I sat up to stare at Isla who wore a cheeky smile on her face.

“Its the first day of classes which means you and I need to get ready and find our classes in approximately 1 hour.” She informed, glancing down at her wrist where a nonexistent watch sat. Before I even had the chance to muster a response, she swiftly turned on her heel and made her way towards her bed where an array of makeup items lay sprawled out.

Rubbing a fist over my eyes, I let out a yawn and a stretch to ease the strain from sleeping the night before. The clock hung up on the wall read 6:45 a.m as I got up from the bed. Quickly fixing the sheets, I made my way to the bathroom to shower.

The first couple of days with Isla were odd seeing as she was bubbly and open, whereas I was quiet and closed off. Despite my attempts to ignore her and her free spirit, she was relentless. Soon, I just accepted her cheerful attitude and agreed on a quaint friendship. Though she was a great friend so far, I couldn’t help but feel a pit deep in my stomach each time she spoke of her family. Eyes shining with love and happiness, she constantly boasted about her loving parents and siblings, whereas I could barely muster a decent phrase to describe my life with a deranged father.

Though Isla was nosy, she understood that some things were better left unsaid and stopped her incessant questions about my childhood and family. Despite this, I knew she was curious yet respectful of my wishes.

“Do you want me to do your makeup? Better yet, let me do both your makeup and choose your outfit.” Isla offered as soon as I stepped back into the room. She was sat criss cross on her bed as she held various brushes in her hands to apply powders onto her already flawless face.

“Oh no, its alright, I have a t-shirt and some jeans I can throw on.” I waved her off as I got up towards my duffle. Sadness overcame me as I fumbled around with the three shirts I had acquired over the years and two pairs of jeans. Rick never allowed me to buy new clothes so the few items I had from over the years was all I brought with me.

“Nonsense! I just bought a closet full of new clothes so feel free to borrow whatever you like anytime you want.” Isla exclaimed happily. Placing her stuff down onto her bed, she made her way towards the stuffed drawer beside her bed. Yanking it open, she stared down at the pieces of cloth before pulling out a black floral tank top. Horror ran through me as my mind flashed to the blue and yellow bruises that littered my arms that would surely be on display if I wore that shirt.

“I can’t wear that.” I quickly said just as Isla turned around.

“Why not?” She asked as her brows furrowed in confusion. Fear coursed through me at the thought of Isla possibly discovering my bruises and the reasoning behind it. If Rick were to ever hear of a police report filed against him, he would surely take me down first before allowing anything to happen to him. Despite this though, Rick always managed to get away with any filed complaints or reports. He had numerous friends that worked with the law enforcement which meant he had eyes and ears everywhere. It was also one of the reasons why I could never turn to the police for help. Running away also wasn’t an option seeing as I had no money, and the streets were littered with Rick’s minions.

No matter what, I would always end up back in Rick’s possession.

And there was nothing I could say or do to stop it.

“I get cold really easily.” I lied, forcing out a small laugh to divert any suspicion she may have had.

Isla simply shrugged before turning back around. She shuffled through the drawer for another minute or so before finally pulling out a long sleeve olive green top.

“This will look good with your black jeans.” She said as she tossed the shirt towards me. Once again making my way towards the restroom, I changed into the shirt and quickly ran a brush through my dark hair before making my way back towards the room.

“Ugh where is it.” Isla muttered angrily as she frantically searched through her side of the room. She was still dressed in her pajamas with her makeup half done as she crawled all over the room like a mad man.

“What are you looking for?” I questioned her as I slipped on my old shoes. Her long colored hair was messily shielding her face as she let out grunts of irritation.

“My stupid headphones. I think I lost them again. Sorry Isabella but you’re going to have to head down to breakfast by yourself today. I’m going to make a pit stop to target before my classes begin.” Isla said as she stood up straight with her hands on her hips. Her face was red and looked like she had just been mauled by a kitten.

“You won’t be late?” I questioned as she shook her head.

“Probably not, but I simply cannot live without my headphones. Its my only way of escaping conversation with people I don’t want to speak to.” She explained as she tied her hair up.

“Duly noted. I’ll see you during lunch at the courtyard.” I laughed before grabbing my bag and heading down towards the cafeteria.

The cafeteria, which was across from the dorm building was buzzing with crowds of students that were huddled around tables scattered all across the room. Though Rick hadn’t provided money to purchase food, I had been given a meal card for food from the cafeteria.

I hadn’t been given much food throughout my whole life, so for breakfast I opted on bowl of fruit with milk. My body still hadn’t adjusted to large amounts of food so I had been consuming small portions at a time, however each time I ate I felt this looming fear that Rick would find out and beat me to a pulp just as he had many years prior when I had secretly stolen food while he wasn’t around.

With my bowl of fruit in hand and bottle of milk, I surveyed the room for an empty table. Though each table was occupied, there was a table in the back corner with only one student seated so I mustered up the courage to take a seat with the random student.

I hesitantly placed my food down on the table before sliding into the opposite side of the table from where the distracted boy was seated. He was dressed formally, wearing a button up shirt with a tie, looking as if he was headed to a wedding rather than college. He was oblivious to the newfound presence at the table seeing as his attention was focused on the comic book laid out in front of him.

Setting my book bag down, I nibbled on my fruit quietly as I watched students shuffle in and out of the room. Just as I was about to take a sip out of my milk, a throat loudly cleared. Staring ahead, my eyes landed on the boy who now stared at me astonished.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize I had company.” He gushed as he promptly closed his book and sat up straight. Holding his hand out to me, he flashed me a kind smile.

“My name is Fletcher.” He introduced as I took his hand in mine.

“Isabella.” I meekly responded, flashing him a small smile.

“Are you a freshman here?” He questioned as he pushed his glasses up his nose.

I nodded my head in response just as I took a small sip out of my bottle of milk.

“Awesome, me too.” Fletcher happily said as he took a bite out of his apple. “Though I am excited to be here, not many people seem to be friendly at this college. Maybe its just because I’m a freshman and people steer clear of them.” He stated, letting out a small chuckle as he continued to eat his food.

“I’m not a very social person so I wouldn’t know.” I quietly responded to which he nodded.

“I can tell, you’re quiet. But its alright, I’m willing to have a nice friend who listens.” He happily announced to which I smiled.

“Which building are you in for your first class?” Fletcher asked as he began to put his books back into his bags.

“300. You?” I asked as I finished the last of my fruit.

“Me as well, would you like you head there together?” He questioned as he stood up, glancing down at his watch.

“Sure.” I answered before grabbing my trash and making my way out of the building with a bubbly Fletcher who couldn’t seem to stop his chatter the whole walk towards the building.

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