Porter came into the room without knocking this time, I was making sure I had everything for class. We had about half an hour until class began, I look up as he entered and took a seat on my bed with his backpack at his feet. He seemed a little irritated. I zipped up my bag and carried it over to the bed and sat beside him.
“Porter?” I questioned.
Was it because of Maya? Was he jealous? Or had she said something after I left.
He reached over and took my hand, I could feel his heartbeat in his fingers and palm. He moved and laid his head in my lap, surprising me. He looked up at me, his dark eyes seemed to be searching. His hand left mine, reached up, and ran through my hair.
“You make too much sense to be crazy,” he whispers.
Had Maya asked about me hearing music coming from people? I don’t blame people when they call me crazy, it’s not normal. If I wasn’t the one hearing it, I’d probably call whoever it was crazy, too. Nobody understood it, not me, not the doctors or psychologists.
I was an anomaly, I guess Porter was, too, to me. Because he was silent. I still hadn’t told him, but he hadn’t asked what he sounded like yet either. Before it became weird, sometimes, people would ask me what they sounded like.
I guess, in the end, he cared more about me as a person than my quirks. He moved and propped himself up on a hand to kiss me. I got lost in his eyes for a second when he pulled back.
“We have to go to class,” I whisper.
“I know,” he whispered smiling sadly at me.
He leans in and kisses me one last time before standing up, we grab our bags and walk to the end of the seventh-floor hallway holding hands. When we reached the end, he reached up and touched my face. I leaned my cheek against his palm and he tilted his head and gave a small smile.
“Let’s go,” he whispered dropping his hands and opening the door to the stairwell.
I smiled at him and went through the door. We descended the stairs together and exit the building. We walk across the field side-by-side. So, far but so close. We entered the main school building and made our way to my first class of the day. We arrive at the class and he seems hesitant to leave.
“I’ll see you in the study hall or at lunch,” I reassure him.
He smiles and laughs a bit.
“Of course,” he murmurs.
He starts walking back down the hall touching my hand as he walked. I watched him walk down the empty hall out of sight back towards the gym. I enter the classroom and take a seat when he’s gone.
I was becoming used to the silence, it was a song in its own way. Beautiful, different, and unique. He was the opposite of silence as a person, he’d spoken the truth about who he was, his feelings and even defended me. I wasn’t alone anymore, in a life that despite all the noise I’d been surrounded by, always made me feel isolated.
I slipped my headphones over my ears and hit play on the music. The music filled my ears as people started to flood into the room. But I could only hear the one song playing with the noise-canceling headphones rather than a myriad of ones that built up and hurt my ears without them.
I sat through the class watching the teacher’s lips move and watched his hand scroll notes across the whiteboard in black erase marker. He drew diagrams of cells and the processes, DNA, and genes. All of it was mildly interesting but not something I would spend my time on if I had the choice but you needed sciences to graduate so here I was.
I copied the notes and the parts he stated were important. By the end, I was done and glad I had two hours and fifteen minutes before my next class. I got up from my seat and made my way to the music room to wait for Porter.
I sat at the piano and looked at the keys for a second. I placed my hands on the edge of them before pressing down slowly and started “Fall on Me” by Andrea & Matteo Bocelli. It was a beautiful song.
I close my eyes and I’m seeing you everywhere. I step outside, and it’s like I’m breathing you in the air. I can feel you there. Fall on me, with open arms. Fall on me, from where you are. Fall on me, with all your light.
Porter sits down on the bench beside me as I finish the last few lines.
“I think I might have been a bit harsh on Maya,” he starts quietly.
“What happened?” I ask turning to look at him.
“After you left she asked me if any of the rumors were true, I asked her which ones. She asked about you being gay and crazy. I told her I didn’t know if you were gay because I wasn’t sure if you wanted her to know. I asked her why she was with Julian. She said because her friends questioned why she wouldn’t get with him if he liked her. I told her that’s not why you’re supposed to be with someone and asked her why she wanted to be around people who were like that if she was going to be nice to us,” he explains.
“She might be confused. It’s hard to understand and find your place in the world when what they tell you, you should be doesn’t always match up with the real world,” I answer.
“You are told to be respectful, decent, not judge, yet when someone is different whether looking, mentally or in opinions you judge them. Whether physically by telling them it is wrong or weird or mentally in your head and ignoring them, it results in conflicted people like her, who want to be nice but want to fit in,” I continue. “It not her fault.”
“She has a choice, though,” he replies.
“Does she when almost the whole school thinks the same thing? It’s not even just the people here, my parents, the people at my last two schools. You, Mr. Yaw, and Ezra are the only people who have attempted to get to know me and it still took Ezra a while to come around.”
Maya came into the room, she was a bit out of breath and looked concerned and nervous. She glanced back and forth between us as if questioning if we were going to yell at her or if friends normally sat this close.
“I’m sorry,” she blurted out finally.
She held her phone up for us to see. There was a photo from a few hours of us in the hall to my biology classroom. Porter was walking by and touching my hand as he walked off to his gym class.
“Julian posted it to Instagram after Greg showed it to him. He was the one who’d took it,” she continued on looking down at the ground ashamed.
Her defeated look now did not fit her normally spunky, bouncy attitude.
I shrug, “Can’t be helped.”
I wasn’t surprised that Julian had a spy on us, I should have expected it if anything. He’d do anything to prove his claims even if I didn’t completely identify with what he was accusing me of being. The truth was though, that I did like Porter and Maya seemed unfazed by that at this point and I was just being myself. Attempting to be normal, in a world where I wasn’t considered normal, therefore, I could not possibly have any normal actions, like holding the hand of the boy I liked.
I wasn’t sure I was going back home any time soon, probably not until early summer, and even then I’d rather move in with Ezra than go back to my father who had attempted to cut all ties with me the minute he could.
I was like an alien to them when the only thing that was different about me from the rest of them was my ears. Porter seemed surprised that I didn’t care that much. What was I supposed to do when there was a physical picture out there floating around? Say it was photoshopped? Who was going to believe me over Julian? And in the end, it was the truth. I like boys and I liked Porter, nothing was going to change that.
“I didn’t want it to happen, I swear. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt either of you,” she begs.
She probably thinks Porter is mad at her but she didn’t take the picture or post it, she just saw it after the fact. It wasn’t like she waited to tell us or let Julian tell us in one of his bullying rants either. She came and told us as soon as she saw it.
I turned around on the bench so I and Porter were facing the same way and stood up. I was only a couple of inches taller than Maya.
“I know,” I reply placing a hand on her shoulder. Her blue eyes were shiny and her brown hair a bit frizzy. “Don’t worry about it, Maya. It’s out there now, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
“You’ve been outed though. That’s a dick move on Julian and Greg’s end. You should feel comfortable and safe and this space is not that,” she continues.
“Regardless of who I like, I don’t know if it would have ever been a safe place for me to be truthful about who I am or who I like,” I answer.
Feelings could be normalized but my abnormal ears and ability to hear music coming from people was harder to understand when there wasn’t even a scientific explanation.
“Let’s just forget about it for now. There’s no point in focusing on it when we can’t take it back or change others’ opinions about me or Porter,” I answer.
Porter moved off the bench and they each took a seat off to the side so I could sit back on the bench and play. I start slowly with “Invisible” by Hunter Hayes.
Crowded hallways are the loneliest places for outcasts and rebels, or anyone who just dares to do something different. And you been trying for so long, to find out where your place is, but in their narrow minds, there’s no room for anyone who dares to be something different. But listen for a minute. Trust the one who’s been where you are, wishing all it was, was sticks and stones. Those words cut deep but they don’t mean you’re all alone and you’re not invisible.
I played through the whole of the song as they sat quietly, I could hear Porter humming and Maya’s twangy guitar playing in the background as if attempting to go along with the piano.
People weren’t perfect, they made mistakes. Maya was learning from her mistakes.
“I missed my Math class,” she murmured, “Julian’s in it, I didn’t want to see him.”
I would never tell her to break up with him. That would be the ideal thing for her if she wanted to be friends with us though. It wouldn’t be ideal for her reputation and friends she already had. It would be like holding onto the anchor as it was dropped off the boat to the bottom of the sea, except drowning wasn’t assured in this case but it might feel like it was. Porter must have had a similar idea because he looked up and over at me.
“You do what you feel is right for you. You feel like you want to break up with him, cut ties, and all that. You do that. You feel like you should stay with him and attempt to live through high school, you can do that. Neither of us is here to judge you,” I reply. “This is your life and our choices might be different from yours.”
She stood up and grabbed her bag. She approached me and hugged me. I blushed slightly and hugged her back.
“You’re too nice towards me and people who have been assholes to you,” she murmurs.
“Hate never helps,” I remind her and release her.
“I’ll see you both after school,” she replies waving as she leaves.
“See you,” I reply.
“Do you think there’s any chance she’ll make the right choice?” Porter asks.
“She has to pick what she feels is right for her not me, you worry about yourself and take care of others after you feel secure in yourself. You knew who you were and who you liked so you befriended me and I knew nothing was going to change much if I lost you for confessing how I felt. We felt secure or didn’t feel we would lose much so we sacrificed what little we did have because we valued who we were as people and the truth more,” I answer.
Porter got up and shut the door. He came back and sat beside me on the piano bench again. He took my hand. His dark eyes looked up and seemed to search my green ones.
“What do my songs sound like?” he asked.
I was slightly scared to tell him he didn’t have songs, he was like the dead with a beating heart inside of him. He was an anomaly in the way I understood the world. I looked down at our intertwined hands.
“Ryker?” he questions.
“Silence,” I reply glancing up. “You are silent.”
“You can’t hear anything?” he questions.
It worried me, I had an idea of when everyone else was going to die. Even Ezra and my own father but he was quiet.
“Has that ever happened before?” he asks.
“Not unless the person is dead,” I answer quietly. “Which you are not, obviously and I can’t hear my own.”
“Is it because you like me?” he poses.
“I doubt it, I’ve liked people before and they’ve still had songs,” I answer.
“Then, why?” he replies.
I shrug, “I can’t understand why I hear them, to begin with, never mind why I can’t hear yours.”
“Is that why you jumped when I snuck up on you? When I first met you and after?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I reply rubbing the back of my neck.
“Can you tell me what other people’s sound like?” he asks.
“I can show you,” I reply nodding to the piano.
“You can play them?” he questions.
“If I’m around the song for long enough and it’s not overcrowded by others,” I reply. “You know that first song you heard me playing? That was my mother’s or at least it sounded similar to that when she was alive. It was also her wedding song.”
“Do you mind playing it again?” he asks.
“No, it’s not the song that makes me sad. It’s a beautiful song, and I think it explains my father’s actions a lot after she died. He lost the love of his life, he might have thought I could have warned him that she was dying, too. He might have thought he could have stopped her from driving me to piano practice if he’d only known. It’s her death song that haunts me, and the memories of being in the car as we hit the barrier and being pulled from it after,” I reply quietly.
“Do you think you could have saved her if you knew?” he asked.
“She would have taken me to piano practice no matter what. Even if I was sick. She thought it was my only chance to not be known as the ‘crazy kid who hears songs coming from people’. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have made them…believe me more about hearing the music and it being real,” I answered.
“Then again, nothing would have physically happened to her if she didn’t go so she still might have thought I was crazy,” I finished.
I turn slowly back to the piano and start slowly. One other thing I found strange about this song was how much the children were mentioned and seemed to be loved, mind you, they seemed to be normal and not hear whether or not people were dying.
We may be a thousand miles apart, but I’ll be with you. Wherever you are. I’m already there, take a look around. I’m the sunshine in your hair, I’m the shadow on the ground. I’m the whisper in the wind, and I’ll be there till the end. Can you feel the love that we share? Oh, I’m already there, oh, I’m already there…
Porter sits next to me on the bench as I play, watching me and my fingers. After I finish, I move my hands to my lap and look down at them. Porter reaches over and takes my hand. I look up at him, our eyes meeting for a second before he moves to kiss my cheek.
“That was beautiful,” he whispers. “We should go get lunch before it gets overcrowded.”
We grab our bags and walk to the door of the music room holding hands, we let go before opening the door and exiting to go to the cafeteria.