Silence, p.47

Silence, page 47

 part  #1 of  Silence Series

 

Silence



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I sat awkwardly at the dinner table. Jasper sat beside me and glared at Mum’s doctor friend, Sadie. The atmosphere around the table was tense. We all knew why she was really here, although no one said anything.

  “So, Oakley, how are gymnastics going? Your mum told me your instructor thinks you could be Olympic material.”

  I sighed. Marcus had said that, but I would have to put in a lot more time, and to me, gymnastics wasn’t about winning trophies. The escape and my love for it was all I was doing it for.

  Mum put her wine glass down and smiled. “Don’t be shy, sweetheart. You’re so talented.”

  Shut up, Mum!

  “Why is it called cottage pie anyway? I mean I get the shepherd’s one for the lamb, but what’s cottage and beef got in common?” Jasper mused, staring at the large oven dish in the middle of the table.

  Grinning in amusement, I poked at my carrots. He was trying to take the heat off me. It only took one look from Mum to make Jasper sit back and eat quietly, though.

  Sadie’s casual questions kept coming. What classes did I like at school? Did I have a nice time on holiday? Who was my favourite football team? She never asked me anything directly, but I knew what she was doing.

  It wouldn’t work.

  I’ll never tell.

  When the conversation turned to my childhood, I knew I didn’t have long left before the really personal questions were asked. After we’d finished eating, Mum had gotten her photo albums from the bookshelf. She had a separate one for every year of our life.

  “You remember this, Oakley?” Mum asked, pointing to a picture of me on my fifth birthday. I was wearing a hideous pink dress and eating chocolate cake. There was pink icing all over my face and hair from having a cake fight with Jasper, Cole, and Mia. Once we’d finished the food fight, they crammed us all into the same bath and sprayed us clean with the showerhead. The water was gross and pink, with little bits of wet cake floating around in it. It was fun.

  That was one of the last times I was a carefree child.

  I nodded and looked away, not wanting to dwell on it too much. That part of my life was over a long time ago.

  “And what did you do for your sixth birthday?” Sadie asked me casually, flicking through the photos. I gave her a flat look and pushed the photo album labelled ‘Oakley Six’ towards her. She forced a smiled and started looking through it even though I could tell she had no interest in seeing them at all. I got the impression that she didn’t like failing and wanted to be able to fix me.

  Sadie sat up straight, flicked her straggly hair behind her shoulder and asked, “What do you want to do after school?”

  I shrugged, and she pursed her lips. The night was going to be a constant battle with her. She wanted to be the magical one that gave my mum all the answers. I couldn’t let her.

  After Mum and Dad cleared the table, we moved into the lounge. Mum made it clear that I was to sit with them, too. Jasper was allowed to sneak off.

  Sadie’s questions kept coming. She switched back to asking mostly yes or no answer questions, but she occasionally threw one in that required a proper answer.

  I could save us so much time if she just asks ‘Are you going to tell me what happened?’

  The whole time I could feel Dad’s eyes burning into the side of my head, his silent demands booming in my head. He played along, following Mum’s lead with questions to Sadie. Not even the highly paid specialist could see through him.

  Seriously, what chance did I have of getting anyone to believe me anyway?

  At ten o’clock, it was getting late enough for me to have to go to bed. Mum and Sadie’s frustration was clear. Mum had hoped Sadie would fix me, Sadie had hoped she’d get something.

  I left the room to get a glass of water and wasn’t at all surprised when Sadie followed me into the kitchen. Turning off the tap, I placed the glass on the counter and waited. “Can we talk?” I sighed heavily and nodded. “So, you were five when you stopped talking?” I nodded, furrowing my eyebrows. Just leave it. “And you didn’t have any problems talking before that?”

  Problems?

  “Any anxiety about speaking to people?” I gritted my teeth.

  “Did you say something wrong, or overhear something you shouldn’t have? Anyone tease you for saying something they thought was silly?” She pressed.

  I felt sick. My stomach churned. Why couldn’t she just understand I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it?

  “Is everything okay?” Dad asked as he walked into the room.

  “Everything’s fine,” Sadie replied. “I just thought Oakley would be more comfortable talking to me alone. Most patients I have are one-to-one.”

  I’m not your patient.

  “Hmm,” Dad said. “Perhaps another time when Oakley’s doesn’t have to get to bed for school.”

  I faked a yawn on time and grabbed my glass.

  “You’re tired, darling, go to bed,” Dad instructed.

  With a little polite wave to Sadie, I did just that. Once in my room, I opened and closed the door so it sounded like I’d gone to bed and then went back to the top of the stairs. Sitting down against the wall, I wrapped my arms around myself.

  My heart was beating out of my chest.

  For a minute or two, they talked about Sadie’s job, but the conversation soon turned to me.

  “So… you know what’s wrong with her?” Mum asked nervously. I couldn’t see her from where I was, but I knew she would be playing with her fingers or tapping her foot.

  “It’s psychological,” Sadie said. “I’m almost certain of it. Oakley can talk. We just have to find out why she won’t.”

  I bit my lip at the painfully long pause. Did she know? Had she guessed? I really wished I could see my parents’ faces, just to get a glimpse of what they were thinking. The longer I waited the more nervous I felt.

  “But what does that mean? How can we help her? I don’t even know what’s wrong with my baby,” Mum said and took a deep, shaky breath.

  Don’t cry.

  “She’s very strong-willed. I don’t think you’ll be able to just find out. There is no quick fix with conditions like this. The only way to get her through this is therapy, it will be a long process and it won’t work unless Oakley wants it to. I’m sorry, Sarah, but I don’t think, for whatever reason, she’s ready to.”

  “But…” Mum trailed off. I heard silence and then strangled sobs as she broke down.

  Hugging my knees to my chest, I closed my eyes. I’m sorry, Mum. I’m so, so sorry.

  “I know it’s distressing, but you have to remain positive and let her come to you,” Sadie said. “I would suggest that you don’t keep pushing her. T treat her as if nothing’s out of the ordinary. The more pressure you put her under, the more she’ll shut you out. Therapy will help, Oakley can get better, but only when she is ready.”

  “So, you’re saying we do nothing?” Dad cut in. His voice was laced with anger. Fake anger.

  “I think for now that’s all you can do. It’s never taken me longer than two hours to get someone to give me something. Oakley’s given me nothing.”

  A metallic taste filled my mouth, making me gag. Pressing my hand to my mouth, I pulled it away and saw blood. As soon as I saw it, my lip began to sting. I stayed perfectly still as they spoke some more and then said goodbye, letting Sadie out.

  “God, I need to speak to her.” Mum’s voice made me jump up. She was coming up here.

  “No, wait,” Dad called. “You need to calm down first, if you go up there in the state you’re in, you’ll push her further away. You heard what Sadie said. We need to do this properly, Sarah. We should’ve done this a long time ago. Pushing her isn’t the answer. We’ve probably made the problem worse through trying.”

  He lies so well.

  “Okay,” Mum whispered, backing down and bursting into tears. I let out a big breath, sighing in relief.

  “Something bad happened to her, didn’t it?” She cried harder, and I f
elt my heart break.

  You have no idea, Mum.

  I swiped away a tear with the back of my hands and got up to go back in my room. Jumping as I turned and came face to face with Jasper, I dropped my gaze to the floor.

  “Whatever’s wrong, I’m here,” he whispered. He looked scared for me. His jacket on and keys were in his hand. Where the heck was he going? I raised my eyebrows and looked at his keys.

  “Err, I’m going to see Abby,” he mumbled quickly. “Do you think I’m crazy?”

  It almost sounded like he was embarrassed. I wiped my face with my hands and shook my head. Jasper wasn’t crazy. They hadn’t properly spoken about what had happened and they needed to. He needed to. Hopefully, he would be able to move on to something better rather than meaningless one night stands.

  “Want me to stay here?” He asked as he wiped a tear from my jaw. I shook my head and gave him a little shove towards the stairs. “Okay. I’ll see you later.” He kissed the top of my head and walked downstairs.

  As soon as I was in bed, I curled up in a ball and buried my head in my pillow. What the heck was I going to do now?

  “Oakley,” someone whispered, making me jump awake. Cole chuckled quietly and sat on the bed. I raised my eyebrows. What was he doing back here? There was no way my parents would have let him in at this time. He scratched the back of his neck, “Jasper just came over. He said you were upset and gave me his back door key so I could sneak in.”

  Damn interfering brother. I loved him.

  I rolled my eyes and pulled the quilt back. As I hoped, he got straight into bed and wrapped his arms around me. “Are you okay?” He murmured against my forehead. I snuggled closer, loving how perfectly I fit against him. I nodded and started to drift off, happy that I was now safe in Cole’s arms.

  “I love you,” he whispered sleepily.

  31

  Oakley

 
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