The Loudest Silence

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Mason

I run one final hand through my damp hair before glancing up at the bathroom mirror. Green eyes stare back at me through my reflection in the mirror, as I push my weight onto my arms that grip the sink.

Physically, I look the same as I always have, yet for some reason as I look back at the person in the mirror, I feel unrecognizable. The same green eyes that used to look so dull and lifeless, suddenly had a twinkle in them that I hadn’t seen in years. I wasn’t the same Mason I was before my life made a 180 turn, but I could feel remnants of the person I once was. I knew that I’d never be the same person I was prior to Nick’s passing, but I had grown to accept that, and I could feel myself beginning to move forward from the life altering events that had changed me.

As soon as this assignment was completed, I was ready to make the first step towards moving on. And it would begin with me visiting Nick for the first time since his funeral.

Standing up straight, I adjusted my shirt, before stepping out of the bathroom, and into my dorm room. It was nearing sundown, meaning I needed to head over soon to Isabella’s dorm. I had decided to take the initiative and ask her out again. I was hoping that tonight she’d finally drop down her walls, and let me in. I needed to know more about her before things between us became complicated. I was going into tonight with a goal to get her to open up to me, but I’d be lying if a part of me wasn’t eager to see her again. It had been a few days since we had seen each other, and I couldn’t help but miss her presence.

A part of me wondered if I had never met her, whether I’d still be the same miserable person I’d been for so long. I never had the courage to reconcile with Brielle and my mother, yet with her around, things just seemed easier.

While the circumstances that had brought us together weren’t ideal, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have made the same progress I had without her. She invoked something in me that I had buried along with Nick. I could only hope that my suspicions about her were true, and that I could get her to let me help her.

I was slipping on a jacket, when the door handle rattled, as a flustered Fletcher stomped in. His backpack was weighing down on his back, and his hands were full with a bunch of bags. I watched with amusement as he stumbled over to his bed, and swiftly dropped everything on top. He let out a sigh of relief, before flopping down onto the bed.

I couldn’t help the small chuckle that left my mouth, as Fletcher opened one eye to look over at me. I couldn’t deny that in the beginning weeks of me being here, Fletcher was nothing more than a pain in the ass, but over time, I had grown to tolerate the guy. In the short time that I did spend in the dorm room with him, he was actually pretty cool.

He talked up a storm through, and half the time, I couldn’t keep up with it.

“Got plans tonight?” He asked, as he sat up on his bed, and pushed his glasses up his nose. Picking up my keys and phone, I nodded my head at him.

“Isabella and I are gonna go to the December Nights event they’re holding on campus.” I answered him as I made my way towards the door, “You planning on going?” I asked him as he let out a shrug.

“I was considering it, but the weather is making me change my mind.” He said as I let out a small laugh. He wasn’t wrong. In the last few weeks, the temperature had drastically dropped, and winter was coming in full force.

“Well, I’ll see you when I’m back then.” I said to him, as he waved me goodbye and wished me good luck. Taking a deep breath, I headed out of the building, and made my way towards Isabella’s building. The wind was particularly heavy tonight, and luckily I had worn a thicker jacket since the event was primarily outdoors.

To be completely honest, I didn’t care much for the event. I had used it as an excuse to see Isabella, and luckily, she was willing to go.

As Isabella’s dorm came into my line of vision, I could a see small frame huddled nearby the door. Her raven hair blew with the wind as she held her hands close to her mouth. Her beauty was undeniable, and it wasn’t attributed only to her physical features. She had a beautiful heart, and I found myself wanting to know everything there was to know about her. She was an enigma, and as much as I had tried to stop myself from growing attached, I feared it was too late.

As I drew closer to her, I watched as her eyes lit up, and a bright smile graced her features. I found myself mirroring her actions, as I stood in front of her. We both didn’t say anything, but we didn’t need to. Our eyes exchanged words of their own as I held my hand out to her.

“Ready to go?” I asked her, to which she gave me a small nod, before connecting her hand with mine.

----

The sounds of our laughs echoed loudly as we both took a seat on the bench. In between laughs, I gaped down at what was once my ice-cream cone. Small giggles erupted from Isabella as she tried to catch her breath.

Feigning anger, I let out a huff before pulling her cone out of her hand, and out of her reach. I watched in amusement as she crinkled her nose at me, and stared at me with wide eyes.

“Hey! It’s not my fault you decided to get so many scoops!” She protested as she reached out to grab her cone back from me. I held it up farther away from, as she let out another laugh. She tried to look irritated with me, but the smile she wore on her face said otherwise.

“Fine, if I share with you, will you give it back?” She tried to negotiate. I pretended to think about it, before holding my hand out to her to shake.

“Deal.” I said, shaking on it. Before handing her back the cone, I took a lick of the vanilla chocolate swirl she had picked, before flashing her a sheepish smile. She shook her head at me, but didn’t say anything as she took the cone back and began to eat it.

“I think the first bad decision was us choosing to eat ice-cream, during weather like this.” I commented, as I glanced around us. Bright lights illuminated the campus, as swarms of people made their way around the various booths and activities. The sun had set a while ago, and the weather had gotten even chillier. Our initial plan was to find some hot chocolate, but we ran into a ice-cream cart before we got there, and Isabella insisted we get the icecream instead. Despite my fingers nearly going numb from the cold, and desperately needed something to warm me up, I toughened up. I couldn’t deny Isabella’s request, and if it meant catching a cold, then so be it.

“It was worth it.” Isabella shrugged as she handed off her ice-cream cone to me. Taking it from her hand, I looked down at her with a small smile on my face. Her face was brightly lit, and her eyes shone with happiness. Joy was a beautiful feature on her, and in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to kiss her again.

Do it.

The small voice in the back of my head had been urging me for the entirety of the night to just do it, to take that leap with her again. But I didn’t want to scare her off. While she had definitely gotten more comfortable with me, I didn’t want to do or say anything that would change her mind. Isabella was definitely someone who took things at a slower pace, and I respected that.

Just as I was going to open my mouth to say something to fill the silence, I felt Isabella’s warm hands grip my face. Before I could process what was happening, she pulled my face down to meet hers. The world around me felt like it stopped as my lips connected with hers. I could feel her hesitancy in the kiss, so I placed a gentle hand on her cheek, as I pulled her closer towards me. She positioned her body closer to me, and that was all the indication I needed to deepen the kiss. Our lips moved in harmony, as I tried to show her how I felt through the kiss. We both struggled with our words, and I could only hope she understood the message I was trying to convey.

Pulling back from her, I placed my forehead against hers as she stared up at me with her soft brown eyes.

“I like you, Isabella. A lot.” I softly said to her, as I pulled my head back slightly to look at her. In that very moment, the assignment or any of that stuff didn’t matter. It was only Isabella and I in our own little bubble, and I wanted to make sure she knew the way I felt about her. I waited for her reaction, and half expected her to run in the opposite direction, but she didn’t. Her warm hands gripped mines, as she gave them a gentle squeeze.

“I like you too.” She answered back, and I couldn’t help the feeling of relief that overcame me. It had been a long time since I had felt any romantic connection towards anyone, but when it came to Isabella, it was like I was helpless. She had brought out a part of me I had hidden away from the world, and I wanted that feeling to stay.

The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was ruin the moment we had just shared, but I knew that I needed to speak to Isabella about Rick. Keeping my hands intertwined with hers, I brought a finger to her chin, and tipped her head up towards me.

“Isabella, I need to ask you something. Please just be honest with me.”

I could see the uncertainty settle onto her face, as a flicker of fear briefly passed through her eyes.

“Is there someone in your life who hurts you?” I finally asked her. Silence fell between us, and the air that was once light hearted and fun, now felt tense. I watched as various emotions passed through her eyes, before her brows furrowed in confusion.

“What are you talking about?” She finally answered after a long pause, as she continued to look at me with a confused expression. Despite her attempting to mask her true emotions, her eyes were a clear give away that she was lying.

Keeping a tight grip on her hands, I scooted closer to her as I maintained eye contact with her, “I care about you, Isabella and I can help you. Just please let me in.” I pleaded with her. I hoped that she could see the sincerity in my words, and trust that I truly did want to help her, but before I could say or do anything else, she pulled her hands away from my grasp.

I could feel her frustration as she glanced around everywhere, and avoided my gaze.

“How can you even say that? You barely know me!” She said, exasperation lining her voice. I could tell from her tense frame that she was on edge, but her reaction invoked something in me too, as I sat up straight and faced her.

“Thats exactly the problem, Isabella! I barely know you because you shut me out any chance you get!” I responded. I hadn’t expected to raise my voice at her, but my emotions got the best of me. I could see the surprise in Isabella’s eyes as she looked at me with a guarded expression. Letting out a sigh, I ran a hand through my hair, as I forced myself to calm down.

Arguing wouldn’t get us anywhere.

“I promise you don’t need to be afraid of me. I’m worried about you, and I just want to help you. I see the bruises on your body. I see the bags lining your eyes. The way you’re constantly looking around to see if somebody’s watching. You can trust me, Isabella.” I said to her in a lower voice as she let out a deep sigh. I felt like a hypocrite in that moment asking her to be honest with me, when I was deceiving her with my own identity. I hated lying to her, which was why I was so adamant about her opening up to me about Rick. The sooner she gave me all the evidence I needed to out him away, the sooner I could help her get out of the mess she was in, and be honest with her about who I really was.

“I’ve spent the entirety my life being invisible. Why do you care, when nobody else ever has?” She whispered in the smallest voice, as she looked down at her hands. I felt my heart constrict at her words, as I watched a lone tear roll down her face. Cupping her face, I leveled her face so that she could look into my eyes.

“How could I not notice you? You’re the first person my eyes drift to in a crowded room. You radiate beauty from both inside your heart and out. You keep me at an arms length, yet I’m still drawn to you. I want to know you. Everything there is to know. but only if you’ll let me.” I said to her as she shook her head. More tears fell down her face as I pulled her closer to me, and into my embrace. Her body shook from her sobs, as my arms tightened around her.

My heart broke for her in that moment, as I held her in my embrace. I wanted nothing more than to take her pain away from her, and would do anything to see a smile on her face.

“You’ll never understand, Mason.” She whispered to me, as she pulled back from the embrace.

“So make me understand.” I begged her. I had dropped down all my barriers tonight with her, and she was seeing the real me. I felt a multitude of every emotion tonight, but right now, it was vulnerability. I was being vulnerable with her, and I wanted her to reciprocate. I could feel her pulling back from my grasp, but I kept a gentle hold on her. I needed to feel her close to me.

Isabella took a long pause, and I could see a million thoughts running through her mind. For a brief moment, I felt like she was going to finally open up to me, and tell me about Rick, but the sound of a cell phone broke the silence.

And just like that, Isabella pulled back from my hold, dropping any chances of her opening up to me.

I watched as she wiped her eyes quickly before glancing down at caller ID on her phone. Her face remained neutral as she declined the call before standing up.

“I should go home.” She said as I watched her with a defeated expression. It felt like every time we took a step forward, it always ended up with us ending up three steps farther away from where we began.

“Isabella.” I called out. I didn’t know what I wanted to say to her, so I just looked at her, hoping that my eyes would tell her everything she needed to know

“Just give me some time, Mason.” She said to me, as she pushed her hands into the pockets of her coat. I could tell that she was being honest with me when she said that, so I simply nodded my head in response. I watched as she gave me a tight smile in return before heading back towards the residence halls.


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