The Loudest Silence

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I clasped my hands together and allowed them to dangle in front of me as fresh fallen leaves crunched beneath my boots. My eyes grazed over the tall buildings that littered the perimeter of the campus as a warm feeling filled my heart. Butterflies flew around my stomach as I heard the excited murmurs and chatters erupting from the crowds of people. The fuzzy feeling in my heart intensified as my eyes roamed over the campus I would soon be walking through. I continued walking through the long pathway as I admired the beautiful nature surrounding the buildings. Benches were scattered throughout the quad, beneath the tall trees that were shedding colorful autumn leaves.

I was suddenly snapped out of the trance I was in by a rough hand that enclosed my elbow roughly. I lifted my now widened eyes towards my father who stared down at me with nothing but resentment in his eyes.

“If you weren’t day dreaming of the pathetic life you’ll never have, maybe you wouldn’t have missed the sign directing us towards the office.” He sneered as he looked at me in disgust. I visibly gulped as my eyes frantically looked around us to see if anyone had seen the altercation. I relaxed slightly as I realized nobody was looking our way and turned back towards him. His menacing stare burned hole in my head as he twisted my arm painfully.

“I’m sorry.” I muttered lightly as I squeezed my eyes shut painfully. I could feel a bruise approaching from the strong grip he had on my arm, and bravely tried freeing myself to cease the ache.

He scoffed at my response and let go of me as I hastily began rubbing my arm to ease the pain. I pushed back the tears that threatened to fall out and put on a brave face to mask my weak and worn out one. He began walking towards the large building in front of us which had a large sign reading ‘College Admissions Office’. Pulling a strand of fallen hair back behind my ear, I followed behind him into the office as I allowed my hair to curtain over my face.

I was instantly met with a fresh minty scent as I entered the nearly silent office. I made my way towards the desk where my father stood sporting a fake smile as he chatted with the receptionist. As I approached the desk, she looked up and flashed me a friendly smile before she continued typing away. The strong scent of her perfume met my nostrils as I stood a few feet away from my father waiting information.

“Alright, we have Isabella Wright listed here for an appointment in about 10 minutes. You folks can go ahead and take a seat right here and we’ll let you know when she’s ready for you to come in.” She explained cheerily as she flashed her blinding white teeth at us. I flashed her a small smile and a nod before turning and making my way to a seat in the far corner. My father joined me, a seat away from me and ignored my presence as he flipped through a random magazine.

As I sat there in the office, I looked around at the many things occupying the space. It had been years since I had stepped out of the house properly, and felt like ages since I had been anywhere beside my home or bedroom. I wasn’t clueless on the life passing by me, I had tried to keep up with the world with as many resources as I could, but with the life I live, my chances for free time are slim.

I let out a deep sigh and glanced over at the still beaming receptionist and studied her glowing features. Her strawberry blonde hair flowed down her back, clipped neatly with a pin. She looked to be in her mid thirties, yet a single wrinkle wasn’t visible upon her face. The crinkles by the side of her eyes indicated that her cheery attitude wasn’t just for the sake of her job and more so because she was an overall happy person. I let out a small sigh as I thought of the happy life I could’ve lived at one point. If I was ever granted the chance at that life, I would be cheery and happy too. Glancing to my right, I looked to see my father glaring angrily at his phone as he rapidly typed something. I turned away quickly, hoping he didn’t feel my gaze upon him knowing he would cause a ruckus in the midst of the silent office. I could tell it took him all his willpower to not lay a hand on me any chance he got since we arrived on the campus, but he played his cards right, never allowing another to see his true self under the mask he wore to the outside world.

I glanced at the clock that seemed to be ticking at a slower pace than normal only to see that a few minutes had passed. I looked around the office some more before hesitantly leaning over to grab a magazine from the mini table in front of me. From the corner of my eye, I looked to see his reaction, knowing that even the sound of me breathing irked him. Luckily, his attention was focused solely on his phone as he peered down at the tiny words on the screen.

Looking down at the cover of the magazine, the bold words across the layout of the page stood out to me as I read to myself silently.

How to lose weight in just ten days!

I internally snorted knowing the tips in the magazine would be bogus. They would especially be useless in my favor seeing that I was only allowed food three times a week. My mouth watered as I flipped through the many food recipes that I ached to bake if I had the chance. That however would never be a possibility because anything that made me happy, made Rick angry, and as far as he was concerned, he made the rules. Pushing back my desire and sadness for the many things I may never get the chance to try, I flipped through the pointless magazine that proceeded to advise me on the latest celebrities scandals; many of which I had no idea existed.

Just as I turned to the page that listed the weight loss techniques, I heard the same cheery receptionist call my name. I quickly placed the magazine back into its designated spot and stood up to follow the receptionist into the long hallway. Rick was already ten steps ahead of me and sporting a sleazy smile as he entered the office. I followed in behind him and was met with a cold breeze as I walked in. I slowly approached the seat in front of the large desk where a older woman sat with her hands crossed. She wore a tight lipped smile on her face, and watched as I sat on the wooden chair in front of her desk. Her with hawk like gaze watched my every move as I settled in my seat quickly. I flashed her a fragment of a smile before quickly looking at my surroundings as she shuffled for something on her desk. Stacks of folders were lined up behind her neatly, most likely holding the files of the thousands of students attending the college.

“Good Morning, I am the Head of Admissions, Mrs. Williams. I believe you are Isabella, and you must be the guardian.” She stated in a monotone voice as she looked down at the folder containing information about me. She pulled a few documents out before looking up at both my father and I. I nodded to the statement made by her earlier while my father shot her a smile and responded.

“Yes, good morning to you as well.” he said as he clasped his hands onto his lap. I watched as he shot me a pointed look when Mrs. Williams was turned away. His look silently told me what I didn’t need to know because he had threatened me right before we had left the house. If I spoke out against him or hinted at the possibility of anything, the consequences would be worse than any I had received. His threats alone made a shiver run down my spine because knowing him, he would stop at nothing to make me pay for my mistakes.

“Alright so lets begin. I see that you are going to be attending this year as a freshman for the fall semester, but for incoming freshman we require room and boarding on campus for the first year here. I need to have paperwork completed by the both of you today in order to have the rooming ready within the next 48 hours.” She firmly stated as I let out a small gasp at the information. Surely she was mistaken because I was never informed of a rooming policy. I reluctantly glanced at my father who also held the same flabbergasted expression as he leaned forward in his seat.

“In order to attend, she has to stay on Campus? Is there any way that it isn’t mandatory?” He asked calmly as he awaited her reply. From underneath the table I could see his anger was building up due the clenching and unclenching of his fists. Fear ran through me at the piece of information because Rick would never let me out of his sights. He was reluctant to even allow me to attend college, but living here would be a long shot. Disappointment ran through me as I casted my gaze to the gray carpeted floor. My hopes for even an ounce of freedom along with education crumbled as I fiddled with my fingers.

“Yes, it is policy for this college. Because Isabella is attending on scholarship, the expenses will all be taken care of.” She replied steadily as she scrutinized my father with narrow eyes. Suspicion clouded her features as her gaze went from my father to me. I sat as calmly as I could while avoiding her firm stare.

“If its alright with you, we can get started on the paperwork right now.” She finally stated after a deafening silence engulfed the room for a few minutes. She pulled a stack of papers out from the manila folder on her desk and placed a pen on top of the stack before pushing it towards my father.

“Yes, I suppose.” My father answered gruffly as he shot me a terse sideway glance. Shock tumbled through me as I stared at him signing the documents. I was convinced he would pull me from the office and shut down the idea of attending college completely after the information we had just received. My gaze soon settled upon Mrs. Williams who was studying me with a faraway look in her eyes. Her eyes were glazed over as if she was reminiscing a memory from her past. She seemed to have snapped back into reality in that moment because she suddenly turned towards my father and began chatting about the college.

I was soon asked to sign a few remaining documents while my father sat beside me silently. I could tell he was planning his next move now that circumstances had changed. I still hadn’t wrapped my head around the fact that I would be staying on campus, away from his condescending threats, and merciless beatings. Tears stung my eyes as I recalled the countless beatings I had endured. Although he would still exert control in my life, now that I would be away from him, I could figure out the next step in my life. I had lived in a constant fear of what would happen if I had ever tried to run away, and despite the many times I had considered it, I knew it would be pointless because I would end up on the streets where I would be returned to him.

“Isabella?” The dainty voice of Mrs. Williams called as she looked at me expectantly. I had been so caught up in my thoughts that I hadn’t followed the conversation that was taking place in my presence.

“I’m sorry what?” I asked meekly as my heats flushed in embarrassment. I avoided the gaze of both her and my father as I stared ahead at the ticking clock.

“I was informing you that we have a room ready for you, and that you’ll need to retrieve your key in the next day or so.” She stated firmly before she began collecting the documents that laid scattered in front of me.

I nodded my head in understanding before I followed my fathers lead who quickly stood up. He had been painstakingly silent since the rooming situation and I internally trembled at his reaction once there were wandering eyes near us.

Both he and I shook Mrs. Williams hand before turning and making our way out of the office. As I walked down the silent hallway, I couldn’t help myself when I turned back to look into Mrs. Williams office. She had a deep frown on her face and looked concentrated at the picture frame in her hand. Right as I was about to turn back, she lifted her gaze to meet mine. She wore the same dazed look that she had earlier in the office, except this time her eyes were wide as if she had witnessed a ghost. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion at her expression, but brushed it off as I turned back around and turned into the main lobby of the office. As I followed my brooding father back through the vast campus, I couldn’t help but let my thoughts wander to Mrs. Williams again. Although I hadn’t realized it while I was in her office due to the tsunami of thoughts occupying my brain, I couldn’t help but feel as if I had seen her before. The possibilities were slim yet I couldn’t help it when I thought back to the lurch in my heart in the moment that my brown eyes met her gray ones.

Something about her gray eyes invoked a deep memory, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to educe it. Despite my mind dismissing the flood of thoughts and possibilities , my heart told me otherwise.

And oddly enough, I agreed with it.

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