Writing… writing… writing. I’m sick and tired of it. Our voices have no sound outside of our homes. That damn Authorized Surveying team would catch us in a heartbeat if they heard one word. The AS team consists of those who have been given authorization to recon the area in search of people who are caught communicating verbally in public. What happens if someone’s caught speaking in public? Well, he’s convicted of breaking silence and opposing the Master (of misology, it seems) and will more than likely be hanged.
This doesn’t necessarily apply to the Innocent Ones though. Little kids who don’t know better have up until grade six to learn. They can speak in school until then and receive stern warnings if they slip up in public. The parents get fined, though; and that isn’t cheap.
Speaking in privacy is permitted. The greatest display of largess one could dream of. The second one enters his own home, he may speak as much as he pleases. In a country of anti-vicissitude and a fairly fascist government, this allowance is truly a blessing. Such as the one for school performing arts functions. Although voice still is not permitted, all drama activities are allowed instruments of which the Master approves. These include pianos, acoustic guitars, violins, and drums.
I was paying so little attention during our literature lecture that I didn’t realize I began drumming my pencil. Our professor, Dr. Gates, turned to seek out the source of the noise. I stopped and a few of my classmates saved me by coughing. She turned back around and I signed “Thank you” to the coughers. The only sounds excused are sneezes, coughs, and other involuntary functions.
On every student’s desk are two buttons in the top right hand corner, one for the restroom and the other for the nurse. Press a button and the teacher will see on her computer tablet the same colored light next to whoever’s desk on the classroom map. She will then click ‘Yes’ or ‘After class’. And if the response is ‘Yes’, then the student may leave the classroom for the permitted purpose.
Feeling lightheaded, I hit the nurse button, and thank God she approved it. I left my seat and headed through the maze of desks to the door. Of course the padlock is on. I input my student identification code and the tiny screen read “Access Granted.”
The door slid opened and I passed through it, taking a right down the hallway. My head began spinning. I sank down to the floor and the last thing I remember is the familiar face of Asher, another senior in my class. He caught me as I fell forward.
I’ve known Asher for as long I can remember. We’ve—no, we’d been friends since pre-school when he and his family moved from a neighboring town into the red brick house next door. Our parents became best friends, and ever since then, we saw each other all the time. We hung out every opportunity we had until the summer before eleventh grade.
It was the last morning of sophomore year. We were at my house out on the screened-in porch. Today, we were practicing a dance that we partake in together for our end-of-the-year silent film-themed play. My older brother, Logan, having just got home from college, was in his room above the porch when he knocked over his dresser. The vibration from the fall shook the porch light fixture off its hook. Asher saw it fall and quickly pulled us out from under it before it crashed to the floor. As he was stepping away, he tripped and fell backward, pulling me down with him.
There I laid over him, looking down at his gorgeous, gradient golden-to-green eyes. His short, dark, smoky blond hair looked lighter than usual against the burgundy hardwood flooring. His skin wasn’t perfect, but I hadn’t realized how much his complexion had cleared during that year. It looked fine now. I had never looked at him so closely before in my entire life.
“Well that was eventful.” I laughed, trying not to think to thoroughly about that near death experience.
He grinned, “Yeah it was.” Then sighed, “So wow, are you okay?” he pushed his bangs out of his face.
“I’m fine, thank you for saving me.” My face reddened and for the first time I felt something different for him. I leaned my head down, with the intentions of kissing his cheek, but instead, just out of pure curiosity, I kissed his lips. That was my first kiss, and it was his.
I heard Logan clearing his throat in the doorway, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just came to see if you guys were okay. Sorry for nearly killing you but it seems you’re just fine.” He was far less than thrilled. Although he is my older brother, he usually isn’t too possessive over me when it comes to Asher. After all, they’ve known each other just as long as Asher and I have. Logan is three years older than I am and just short of six feet. He had short chocolate brown hair, pale skin, and aqua blue eyes.
Asher changed moods immediately, acting as though he hadn’t kissed me back. He gently moved me away, “I’m sorry.” He stood up, “I’m…” he helped me stand and leaned into my face as though he might kiss me again, but then glanced at Logan who was studying his every movement curiously, “I’m sorry, but I have to go.” He also apologized to Logan as he brushed passed him.
Logan raised eyebrow and threw up his hands, “Wait, what the hell? I knew you guys were a thing. If I didn’t approve I would have said something!”
We heard Asher slam the door as Logan walked onto the porch to look at the mess from the crash. Broken glass and bits of the ceiling were everywhere. “A) What was that about? And B) Mom’s gonna kick my ass.”
After that happened, the last time he had anything to do with me was during the play, where he acted emotionless. His body language had completely changed. Instead of playful and flirty, he acted impersonal and strictly “professional.”
I slowly opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was the ceiling fan quietly spinning counterclockwise at a turtle's pace. I glanced around and found that I was at home in the living room, lying on the tope leather couch. Praise familiarity. Mother walked around the couch into my field of vision. She appeared as though she hadn’t slept in days. She looked paler than usual and her brown hair was in a tired messy bun. She simply wore dark wash blue jeans and a red T-shirt with my high school’s logo across the front.
She knelt down next to me. Her green eyes caught the light and I could see they were glazed over with tears, “Faryn, you scared me half to death.” She hugged me and brushed a strand of wavy blonde hair out of my face.
“I’m fine, Mother. What happened?” I sat up and grabbed my head as a bolt of pain shot through it. “Holy crap, this hurts.”
Before she could respond, Asher walked in and sat down in the chair adjacent to the couch, “You scared everyone. After you walked out of your classroom, you looked dizzy, knelt down, and fainted. I caught you before you fell forward and picked you up. I carried you’re lighter-than-a-feather body to the front office and the nurse looked you over. She signed that you’d be fine and allowed me to drive you home.”
Mother stood up, “I have medicine waiting for you in the kitchen. I have to go back to work. I’ll be back home around eleven.” She turned to Asher, “Please take care of her while I’m gone. I know that’s a lot to ask, but I don’t want her to be alone in case she has another episode. I’ll pay you if that’s—“
Asher stopped her, “No, Mrs. Grey, you don’t have to pay me.” He smiled, “I’m not leaving her.”
Mother laughed, “You don’t have to call me that. Just call me Sarah.” She picked up her purse and car keys from the coffee table, told us goodbye, then left.
I stared at him. He looks amazing. When he stopped associating with me, he joined athletic clubs and got fairly popular. It’s been almost two years, but he looks so different. But that doesn’t affect how pissed I am. Over the years I’d tried to contact him but to no avail did he ever express any interest in being my friend or more than that.
I sighed and couldn’t even bring myself to speak to him first.
He frowned, “I’m sorry, but I’m not leaving no matter how much you want me to.”
I gave up ignoring him faster than intended, “Why did you leave that day?” I crossed my arms, eager for the response I’d been waiting for.
“Because I didn’t know how I felt about you. You kissed me, and of course I kissed you back. But you didn’t kiss me for the right reason.”
What the hell?! “Excuse me? You saved me from getting hit by that stupid light!”
His eyes widened and he walked over and sat next to me, “Um, exactly! I would have done that no matter who it was. And chances are no one would have let you get hit.”
He made a point, but I am not done explaining yet, “I mean you saving me helped me realize I had feelings for you.”
“It wasn’t the same. You weren’t liking me the same way I figured out I liked you. Look, I’m not here to mend a broken relationship. I’m just— What are you doing?”
As he was talking I turned around and sat in his lap facing him. I know that sounds pretty bad, but I’m just trying to see if he has or had any feelings for me whatsoever. I couldn’t read his expression.
He put his hands behind his head and looked straight up, “Oh God, really? You’re doing this with a skirt on. With a freaking skirt on. Why even? Can you not shove your body in my face like that?” I wore a white button-up and a plaid skirt of our school colors, red and black.
Okay this is ridiculous. I know dang sure he’s not gay. I leaned over and kissed his neck, determined to find out what he meant by that I didn’t like him the way he figured out he liked me. He ran his hands down my sides and around my lower back and to my hips. Clearly he did enjoy that. Alrighty then. I stopped and he looked at me with a disappointed look on his face that quickly shifted to a frown, “Dammit, Faryn. Why did you have to do that?” He was sincerely and completely livid.
Success, “Why did you want me to stop?” I grinned. See the key here is that he didn’t want that to end, which brings me a step closer to learning what actually happened two years ago. He had hurt me, he really did. Best friends for years and years and he cut it off just like that. That just isn’t normal.
He glared at me with a straight face, “You know good and well by my body language that the assumption that I had any desire for you to cease your actions came straight from the BS fairy. But that isn’t the point. Be mature about this, for me. We cannot be together right now in a romantic sense. But I know that if we start spending time together like the way we used to that it’s going to be too difficult to keep things in the friendzone. You see I tell you this as you sit in my lap with my hands on your hips.”
I understand how he’s found that staying away is a good method for preventing a romantic relationship, “But I don’t understand why you don’t want a romantic relationship with me at all.”
He kissed my hand, “I never said I didn’t want that. Look can you please get off of me, I’m about to go insane. You’re teasing pretty badly right now and it’s killing me.” He let go and put his hands behind his head again.
I haven’t had a boyfriend in I don’t know how long, but I’ve never gotten this serious. As God as my witness, and my sincere prayers and apologies later, I’m about to do something really stupid to get the information I want to hear.
I began to unbutton my shirt, “Tell me how you really feel about me, and don’t leave out any details.” I would normally never do this but there’s actually not a lot he hasn’t already seen. When we were little, we pretty much did what little kids do and there would be times where we spent the night together and had seen a lot of each other to a safe, innocent extent. But none of it had the meaning that something like this does, and that I do understand.
“Faryn, stop that. Act your age—wait, no. Act like, damn. Okay, act more maturely.” He pleaded with me.
“Tell me.” I unbuttoned two more.
He brought his hands to my face and pulled me close. His voice was shaky as he whispered, “I will tell you when you’re ready to hear it. This is your last warning. Get off of me or I’m going to do something else you aren’t even somewhat ready for. I’m going to regret it and want to kill myself, but the situation my body’s in right now doesn’t exactly call for giving a shit in the heat of the moment.”
I was awestruck and curious, but I was done being stupid and frustrating him. Also a little bit insulted that he didn’t think I was mature enough to hear it… Yeah, I shouldn’t have tried to get him to say anything like that. It really wasn’t fair to him.
“I’m sorry, Ash.” I jumped up from his lap and scooted over. Without saying a word he stood up and left the room, down the hallway, probably to the restroom.
I sat there in silence. I’m not an idiot, I know much I screwed around with his emotions. I know how much I messed with my own. I’ve loved Asher for years. But something felt different today…
I want us to be friends again, to have fun together like we used to. If Asher has feelings for me, which I’m pretty sure I’ve gathered that he does, and maybe not in the way that I should have learned about, then shouldn’t he at least be willing to try? I know he said we shouldn’t…
“Faryn!” I heard him call as he came back into the room. “Have you gotten the alert on your phone about the hanging tonight?” he walked across the living room and into the kitchen from there, “Want something to drink?”
I pulled a glittery scrunchy from my wrist and pulled back my hair, “Um no, what, did someone break silence?” Wait a second, “Where’s my phone. Actually, where is my book bag and purse?” Because that’s what matters.
I stood and walked into the kitchen, becoming surrounded by dusty rose and lavender hues. The cabinets, tables, and chairs were beige while the countertops were grey marble. The wallpaper was covered in a pastel pink and purple floral pattern while floor was the same burgundy hardwood flooring in this room as well as throughout the entire house.
Asher pulled two bottles of sweet tea from the fridge and handed one to me. He hasn’t changed all that much since he stopped coming over. I was kind of surprised he still acts like he lives here in some ways. “Your phone’s down your shirt.” He held his hands up, “You had it there when you fainted. Never touched it.” He grinned and twisted the cap off his bottle and then took a sip, “The rest of your crap’s in your room. Your mom put that there.”
Wow I’m dumb. I pulled my phone out of my shirt and buttoned it back up. I turned it on and my screen read that the AS caught a girl from Logan’s college breaking silence. Also, the thing about phones is that one can only use texting. After speaking was made illegal, the calling feature was disabled on every single telephone in the country.
“The hanging’s at 8:00 P.M. I see.” I said as I read further. I walked up to him and stood a little closer than I should have, “And I see that you were looking.” I smiled and put my drink down on the counter behind him.
He rolled his eyes, “So what? I’m not gay and I never denied being attracted to you.”
Once again, he made a point there, “I wonder who broke silence.” I pondered.
“I don’t know. It’s best not to worry about it. Although I did see she was from St. James’. I hope Logan didn’t know her.” He spoke with melancholy.
I hate this. Every time someone breaks silence in sixth grade or above, he or she dies. And everyone else gets to see it. I just want to get out of the terrible country. I just can’t take all of the misoneism here…
I took Asher’s hands, “We should leave Aerythia! Talking’s legal everywhere else.”
He gave me this half smile, “I have always wanted to hear more music.” Sure we hear music, but very little with no voices to it. “I would love to get away from here. It’s a nice dream, Fay, but there’s no way past the border wall.”