Don't Say A Word.

Isabelle York is an extraordinary girl, with a flaw that sets her apart.

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1. Hush Little Baby.

 

Hush little baby, don't say a word,
Mumma's gonna buy you a mockingbird. 

Isabelle shuddered as she skulked through the halls, her head hunched low so that all she could see was the mottled blue floor. A stripe of brown hair blocked her vision for a moment, before she brushed it shyly so that it stuck firmly behind her right ear. Black-clad feet of rushed students flew by, the occasional loose shoelace dipping into her view, something that only she would notice in the crowded corridors. It made her smile when the children that taunt her daily forget to notice the simplest of things. They trip over loose laces, drop papers from open bags, even lose money because of their insolence. She finds it a plainly amusing payback when she doesn't point out their unzipped bags or half opened pockets. 

And if that mockingbird don't sing,
Mumma's gonna buy you a diamond ring. 

She tried to shrug off the taunts of the squeaky-voiced girl standing to her right, surrounded by boys with smoothed-back hair and suspiciously perfect skin. The girl's name was Jasmine, and her trademark brown streaked bunches were bobbling as she laughed at the look Isabelle shot her. As quickly as she had glanced at the tiny girl, she once again fixated her eyes on the floor, counting her steps until she reached her Maths class. Isabelle's desk was in the the back corner, away from the other's chants and giggles. Her book was pulled from her bag slowly, and placed gently in the left corner of her desk, alongside her pen, ruler and pencil. She sat down and pushed her bag under her desk, a routine that had been slowly perfected to accomodate her slight OCD. She was already onto her second book in her third month of being back at school; not being able to talk to the others in her class did her a world of good in the area of taking notes on equations, graphs and theorems. 

The slight-framed, spectacled teacher with a stutter hovered at her desk, wringing her hands as she called out to the class to be quiet.

'Yeah, Isabelle, shut up!' a snarky boy with spiked hair laughed from the one of the middle rows. Chimes of giggles bubbled from the rest of the class, resulting in even more noise than before. Isabelle ignored it the best she could, opening her book and writing the date slowly, savouring in the noise the pen made as it scratched on the paper. The stench of ink from her fountain pen reached her sensitive nostrils instantly, and she finally felt calm. Her fist, clenched on the table, relaxed. She opened her text book and worked ahead of the class without a sound. 

 

----

 

When she got home, Isabelle walked into her younger sister's room, knocked on the door to get her attention, and waved, giving her a slight grin. The room was plastered with posters of God-knows-who from God-knows-what, depicting topless men and girls with short hair. The walls that were visible were pink, left over from when they were 9 and 6 and loved bright, 'girly' colours. Her sister was her opposite; straight blonde hair, pale skin and braces that made her smile look even friendlier than it had been before the metal. Contrasting, Isabelle's hair was brown and frizzy, she had a slight underbite and her olive skin was easily mistaken for an exotic holiday tan. However different they looked, Isabelle and Georgie were as close as any set of twins. 

'Hi, Belle,' Georgie smiled. 'How was your day?' 

Isabelle breathed out slowly through her nostrils, and attempted to mouth her day to Georgie, who had still not mastered the craft of sign language. It had been 7 months since Isabelle's operation to remove her throat cancer had left her a mute, and it was her family's job to learn how to communicate with her after her voice was gone. When she failed, she reached into her bag and pulled out a whiteboard and marker. 

They started with the 'hush little baby' lines again. I'd thought they were old news, but everything is just getting recycled over and over again. 

Georgie nodded. 'I know what you mean. I think I heard that squeaky-voiced bitch calling after you this lunch... I would've said something, but Mrs Tarrent stopped me for wearing the wrong kind of shoes.' 

You wouldn't have needed to do that for me anyway. I can put up with it. It's not like they're ever going to hear what I have to say about them anyway. And is that why you were home early? 

'Yeah, third strike and now I'm out for three days,' she smiled and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. 'Next time they're taking me out of classes and putting me in the isolation room.' 

Isabelle smiled and gave Georgie a gentle shove on the shoulder. She put away the notebook, and signed slowly; 'Next time, wear the right shoes.' Then, she waved goodbye, and walked to her own room. Her sanctuary. 

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