Don't Say A Word.

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

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2. The Loudest Mute.

The walls of Isabelle's room were a deep purple, with what looked like a mural made up of sheet music painted on the wall opposite her bed, which was next to her window. If you looked closer at the mural, you would realise that the lines were made up of song lyrics, made into the shape of sheet music, depicting a section of notes that, when played, would play her favourite song, Therapy by All Time Low. She had a keyboard in the right corner of her room, which had sheet music balancing on a music stand behind it. An acoustic guitar was on a stand beside her bed, the pick weaved between the strings. 

Isabelle dropped her bag at her feet, and began to discard her school uniform, replacing it with pyjama bottoms and a loose-fitting top, topped with a hoodie. She flopped on her bed and reached under her pillow, pulling out the bed she had been reading the night before along with a remote control, on which she pressed a button. Almost immediately, music filled her ears, a gentle, flowing mixture of string and woodwind instruments that instantly relaxed her. She settled back, opening her book and mouthing the words as she read. A bookshelf had been placed just to the left of her door approximately two years previously, at that point only holding one shelf-worth of books. During those two years, after being diagnosed with her cancer, she had slowly accumulated enough books to over fill her shelves, resulting in small piles of them being made along her walls and beneath her bed. 

The novel she was reading at that moment was a battered copy of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, which was one of the first books she had read the whole way through and had enjoyed fully. Its spine was bent and the pages were dog-eared, just the way she liked it. 

She read and read, mouthing the words to herself, wishing she was able to read them out to her sister, or maybe even her mother. 

Isabelle didn't have many friends. She enjoyed being alone because she felt like a burden, both when she had the cancer and after, especially because she would have to communicate with them through sign language. When she was younger, she was popular and happy. She was still happy, but in a different way. The cancer had helped her understand what was important to her; family. The operation had made her grateful that she was, at least, alive, despite being unable to speak to her family ever again. She wasn't very popular with the girls in her school, which led them to taunt her for being different, hence the 'hush little baby' sing-songs. 

Beneath her pillow, Isabelle's phone vibrated, since she wouldn't be able to hear it over the ear-bursting music. She folded the corner of her page with a sigh, before placing it beside her and retrieving her phone. There was a text from a girl in her English class called Sophie, and it read; 

Mr Hudson said we'll be getting a new student in our year next week. I think it's a boy, but I'm not sure...x

Isabelle shrugged to herself, but began thinking that she might finally have a chance of a new start with someone she's never met before. 

What, next Monday?  She typed back quickly, not expecting a reply.

Isabelle had never had a boyfriend. Well, that wasn't strictly true. When she was admitted into hospital, she was placed in a children's ward due to being under 16 at the time. She had a bed beside a deaf boy who had acute leukaemia, which was where she had learnt most of her sign language from. He had been discharged the day before her, and before leaving, he had kissed her gently on the lips. He was her first kiss. She had spent the next two hours in shock, confused by the fluttering in her stomach and the sweat on her palms. 

----

That Monday, Isabelle dressed in her school uniform and made the ten minute journey to school with Georgina, chatting silently, so that from a distance it just looked like they were making large, exuberant gestures to each other whilst having a completely normal conversation. Isabelle wore a scarlet scarf around her neck to cover the rather large scar that was there, along with several achievement badges on her school blazer. 

Sophie told me that there's a new kid coming today. 

'Oh, that'll be cool! I wonder who it's gonna be!' Georgina smiled and looked down at the floor, tucking her hands into her pockets as she braced herself against a sharp gust of wind. She looked up at Isabelle when she remembered that she couldn't reply verbally. 

Apparently it's a new boy. 

'Oh, right!' she replied, then lowered her voice. 'You don't think it's Walter, from the hospital, do you?' 

I have no idea. He didn't tell me where he went to school, or give me a number... Isabelle faltered as a car pulled up beside them, and a trio of short, snub-nosed girls stepped right there and then. They halted their conversations and looked Georgina and Isabelle up and down in turn, wrinkling their foreheads and smirking. 

'Hello, little baby,' the middle one, Abigail, slurred. Clearly high. 'How's the pretty little baby today? Learning how to talk?' 

Isabelle tried to continue to walk in the direction of the school, which was in eyesight, but they weren't taking silence for an answer. 

'You need to speak to us before we can let you go,' the tallest of the shorties, Anna, grinned as she pulled at Isabelles scarf. 'Come on, little baby. How old are you?' 

'Leave her alone!' Georgina, who was a year younger and yet half a foot taller, spat at them. 

'Ooh, little baby's got to have her baby sister look after her?' Abigail laughed. She pulled Georgina's rucksack off, laughing when she stumbled backwards. The smell of smoke practically radiated from Abigail's clothes.

Georgina straightened up, and as Isabelle stepped backwards, her sister swung at Anna, her fist coming into contact with her jaw with what should have been a sickening crack. Abigail took the chance to grab at Isabelle, who was standing and marvelling at her sister's bravery, and pushed her backwards into a wall. Nails scratched at skin and slaps were dealt, until neither one of them could count how many blows they had dealt. 

It was only when four teachers had to break them up could they really assess the damage. 

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