Zoe was always working hard to get herself somewhere. She was constantly getting ahead of her studies, she was always doing service in her community, she never had a mean thought in mind. Zoe was a person of thoughts. Not a word had come out of her mouth since the third month of seventh grade. Of course Zoe seemed perfectly normal until you found this out. She had a few friends, they all understood she didn't talk and wouldn't bother her to say anything. Most of middle school wasn't that bad she was always nice to people when she did talk when she was younger. She was still nice too. She'd do her best to help peers with work and study guides. This continued into the first two years of high school.
But then she left the school of understanding pupils for an early college. Her parents were so proud of her; her little brother envied her intellectually ability heavily. Of course she envied his popularity. But at early college people weren't as nice, teachers weren't as understanding with the disability she'd come by and with only one friend there to help her things didn't turn out great. Lexi was the only friend she had and that wasn't working so well.
Lexi was, in a nut-shell, an out going, brilliant socialite. Which meant she had lots of friends, lots, and lots, and lots of friends. She introduced Zoe to all of them, commenting on how nice and interesting they are. A few of the guys had asked for her number. Zoe had put it in on there phones but they never texted her more then once. Charity cases, Zoe had thought. If you're friends with the mute girl you must be great.
Then sometimes she'd think guys asked for her number because she was pretty. Zoe thought she was sometimes. Only sometimes did she feel that way though. Sometimes Zoe felt like no one liked her, she was needing constant reassurance, as soon as sixth grade started she needed that. And as Zoe got older the list of reassurers lessened and lessened, to point where the only people left were her parents. Even reassurance didn't help. She needed someone who she knew was being honest, because when you don't talk people pretend to like you as a charity case, she needed someone who didn't know.
Zoe turned to the Internet.
The Internet was great for lying. People did it all the time. But Zoe was going to do any major lying, she didn't want to land on the local news. And that's how she ended up friends with Emily.
Emily was just another girl on Instagram who commented on one of Zoe's photos and Zoe thought she seemed nice enough. They talked and talked and talked. Zoe always made up excuses when Emily would ask if they could face time. That was in eighth grade they started talking, Emily was in seventh.
Now it was the summer before college would start and Zoe would be a freshman at Appalachian University with a full scholar ship. Emily had secretly planned to go to the school as well and had told the school she wanted to room with Zoe. Zoe was surprised to say the least. What would she do, now Emily had to know she doesn't talk. Three weeks before school started. Zoe was working her tail end off to get money saved. She was baby sitting and cleaning and dog walking, anything she could do without talking she would.
One day while Zoe sat on the couch watching her neighbors daughters play with the Littlest Pet Shop toys Zoe had given them, she pulled her phone out and texted Emily.
I need to tell you something important. Shoot me back a text when your available to talk :)
Emily replied shortly after.
Is this phone call worthy information? Is it FaceTime worthy? Please tell me it's one of the two.
Zoe thought about that long and hard. Clearly it couldn't be phone call worthy because how would that work. Emily would just talk Zoe's ear off and Zoe would listen.
Zoe decided it could be FaceTime worthy if she had note cards and a marker.
Uh, we can FaceTime in thirty minutes. I'm babysitting right now.
"Who are you texting Zoe?" Asked Phoebe, drawing out the 'e' sound of the name.
The older of the two, Kassey, snatched Zoe's phone from her grasp. She read the texts aloud to her younger sister who hadn't learned how to read. "Who is Emily?" Kassey asked. Kassey was the sweetest thirteen year old Zoe had ever met, and she'd encountered plenty of them. Kassey was well aware that Zoe doesn't talk, so was her younger sister, and parents. It was nice of them to hire her to sit around because Kassey could clearly take care of herself and Phoebe.
'She's a friend,' Zoe wrote out across a whiteboard she'd brought with her.
"I fought we was your fwiens Zoe!" Phoebe exclaimed after Kassey had read what I'd written on the board.
Zoe erased what she'd written with the heel of her hand. Her curly-q handwriting she wrote, 'you are my friends. Emily is my friend that's my age.' After Kassey read this aloud Phoebe nodded and went back to making a Great Dane Littlest Pet Shop make dinner for her friends, the Stallions.
The door flung open and in walked Kassey and Phoebe's mom. She smiled at the two young ones that came running and nearly tackled her in a hug. Their mom smiled at Zoe, paying her and sending her home. All three gave her best wishes as she left the door, throwing her hood up quickly to avoid the rain.
As soon as Zoe reached home she called Emily with the iMessage she used to text her. She looked at her face moving her mouth, she'd practically forgotten how to speak. After a few moments Emily's face appeared on the iPhone's screen. Zoe waved.
"Oh my gosh! I've been waiting for this so long! I want to see what you sound like! Do I sound bad?" Emily squealed. Zoe shook her head no. Emily sounded marvelous. Zoe grabbed the white board she'd been using earlier.
She wrote large so that Emily could read it, 'I don't talk. I haven't since the beginning of seventh grade.' Emily looked rather shocked. 'I'm sorry. We're still friends though right?' Zoe wrote down afterwards.
"Of course. Of course. We'll always be friends. I can't wait to see you in a few weeks. I'm so excited!" Emily said over enthusiastically. Zoe smiled brightly at her friend. The two talked a little while longer before Zoe wrote that she had to hang up.
Zoe and Emily did that a lot more, the FaceTime-ing while Zoe used a whiteboard. Zoe loves Emily's voice, with its slight New Jersey accent and dialect. Not only that but Zoe loved her constant ability to sound like shed spent her whole life at sea when she'd string together a long line of curse words.
Emily would plead Zoe to talk and Zoe would shake her head, shrugging her shoulders. 'I don't know how to,' she'd write. And Emily would counter with, "of course you do, silly. You used to talk when you were younger!" But Zoe just couldn't remember what it felt like to make your vocal cords vibrate and she'd just shrug again and Emily would sigh.
The two were always in contact and when it was the day for Emily to come down to North Carolina for college Zoe was more excited then her brother when Call of Duty: Black Ops 5 had come out. Emily had been too.
Emily had cried out in joy when she walked into the dorm room and saw Zoe hugging her brother and parents goodbye. Zoe had three boxes sitting on the floor. One was labeled 'clothes.' One was labeled 'need haves' and the last had 'FRAGILE! THIS SIDE UP!' and under that in sharpie was 'books' her family smiled at Emily and left the dorm, turning left as they headed out the hallway.
"OH MY FVCK!" Emily exclaimed hugging Zoe tightly. Zoe smiled at Emily, currently that's all she knew how to do. "I can't believe I'm actually hugging you. You're actually fvcking standing here, in front of me, smiling like an idiot!"
Emily just kept grinning after finishing her sentence but Zoe just blushed and kept grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Emily rambled on about how great it was to see Zoe. "Zoe uhm, I have a question though," Emily said. Zoe nodded for her to continue, "so remember how you came out to me and all," Zoe nodded, "well how did you have that boyfriend of yours since you don't talk or like uhm boys and uh have you told your mom and dad?"
Zoe was shocked by the sudden question. I mean how she'd managed to get a boyfriend when she didn't talk she wasn't sure of. He'd just started saying that she was his girlfriend. There wasn't agreement to it. It just happened. And of course Zoe hadn't told her parents. How could she. They wouldn't have helped her with college stuff, they probably would've kicked her out. Zoe shook her head no, pulling away from Emily with a sudden change if mood. Emily was still the only one that knew.
First semester, Zoe and Emily were getting along great still. Zoe was doing really well in all of her classes, keeping her scholarship. Emily was doing almost as good in her classes. She'd joined a study group to keep her grades up.
It was three weeks before second semester Zoe was packing her things. She was heading to London to study abroad for a semester at Camberwell. Emily and her were doing everything together and Zoe was developing more and more of a crush on Emily. She'd had one since three months after they'd started talking and now that they were living together it'd just grown larger and larger. It was pretty easy to keep Emily from knowing since Zoe didn't talk.
"Zo, can we talk?" Emily asked one day when about two weeks before second semesters start, Zoe was working on a novel. Zoe nodded her head. She saved the file she was working on and closed her lap top spinning around to face Emily who plopped down on her bed.
"Well, ehm," Emily began to sob, sniffling it away. Zoe got up and went and sat down next to Emily on here bed. Zoe rubbed Emily's back and let out a comforting hum. She was working on talking, when you haven't said a word since seventh grade it's difficult to come by words.
"I remember when you came out to me. We were texting and you kept saying you had something to tell me. I thought you were going to say something like how much you appreciate me or something. I wasn't really sure.
"But then you told me you didn't like boys. You were so scared I was going to hate you. And I was confused as to why you'd ever think such a thing. You were always complaining about the homophobes of your home town and I empathized you because of that," Emily breathed out sniffling in between sentences. Zoe was really confused. Why did this matter now? Was Emily going to say she couldn't stand living with Zoe? Then Zoe realized the word choice; empathize, she froze.
"I empathize with you because I have a thing for girls as well, and boys," Emily said. She continued sniffling. Zoe hugged Emily tight. Zoe tried to muster up a sentence, she just didn't have it in her. Zoe pulled out her phone. She opened up the notes and typed something out.
'Hey, look. It's alright. Your my best friend. It didn't change anything for you, it doesn't change anything for me. Do your parents know?'
"Yeah they know. First ones to, well other then Jackie," Emily said. Zoe could almost kiss her. She'd had a crush on her since eighth grade. Zoe nodded. She grabbed her phone again and typed out something else.
Zoe handed her phone to Emily, 'lets go out and get some ice cream, I'll take you skating.' Zoe knew Emily had never been skating. She aimed to teach her. Zoe was a marvelous skater, much like she was a writer. What she lacked in speech she made up for with her ability to skate and write.
"But you know I've never skated," Emily said. Zoe nodded. "Alright then. Let me grab my money." Zoe shook her head no. Zoe grabbed her purse and took Emily's hand. She dragged Emily along to an ice cream parlor that doubled as a skate rink right outside of city campus.
Zoe paid for their ice cream. She had gotten chocolate and Emily had gotten a moose tracks malt. Zoe ate hers slowly savoring the home made twang in its flavor. Emily ended up asking for a spoon because the malt had been to thick for a straw. By the time they'd finished the rink had cleared out massively. Emily talked about her brother and then Zoe's favorite song came on so they went to skate.
Emily's clutch on Zoe's hand was a deathly one. She couldn't seem to keep her feet under her body and she leaned around clumsily. Zoe let Emily put her weight on Zoe. Slowly Emily got the hang of it and Zoe skated backwards and held Emily's hands, pulling her along. Emily began to sing along to the songs she knew and attempted to do so to the songs she didn't. Zoe laughed and then they nearly fell because they weren't paying attention. Zoe began trying to hum along to the songs. She's been practicing her speech because she really wanted to talk to Emily.
Kiss You by One Direction came on that night at about eleven o'clock. Emily sang the words loudly because she knew it was one of Zoe's favorites. Half way through the song they went back to sit down in the ice cream parlor. They could still hear the song playing though and Emily continued to sing, quieter this time though as to not disturb the other skaters.
Zoe had built up a plan in her head by this point by how this night would end. She coughed a bit right before the last line. "And let me kiss you," Zoe said in a scratchy voice that sounded only slightly like what she had when she was a seventh grader. Then Zoe leaned in and and plant a soft kiss to Emily's lips. Emily was shocked, to say the least. She quickly got over the shock.
"God, I fvcking like you, a lot," Emily sighed leaning in to kiss Zoe again.
Post a long second semester, filled with Skype calls, texts, and lots of course work, Zoe was back in her home country and enjoying the sunny warmth of the summer.
Emily and Zoe had decided to get an apartment together just a few blocks from city campus. Zoe smiled at the apartments location when they'd picked it out, less then ten minutes walk from the ice cream parlor they'd gone to together. As soon as they moved in Zoe put her first book available to the public eye.
The book hadn't done quite as well as Zoe had hoped but Emily made the situation better. They'd cuddled on the apartments couch together a few weeks after the book came out. "You know, even if it's not a big success I'll still like you," Emily said. Zoe nodded her head and hummed a response that made Emily's chest vibrate. Emily smiled and kissed the top of Zoe's head, they'd been dating since the night after the skate rink.
Zoe still didn't talk much. Only occasionally. Emily would try to get her out of her shell, it just didn't work. Zoe would only talk to Emily, and that was only sometimes.
"Do you not want to talk?" Emily asked after Zoe stopped making Emily's chest vibrate with her soft hum.
Zoe looked up at Emily. They were watching Little Mermaid. It was the first time Zoe had seen it. Zoe opened her mouth and Emily got hopeful, "Oi, shut the eff up would ya, love?"
This was the best part about Zoe going to England. She'd adopted the accent and the ways of swearing like a sailor. Plus she'd taken a cooking class at Camberwell and boy, was Emily enjoying that.
Most of summer break Zoe worked on her new book, balancing a few jobs here and there. Emily did a lot of the working, but she didn't seem to mind. They were both so happy.
Then spring semester started. They kept at what they were doing but added there classes to that. On an average Tuesday Emily walked into the apartment calling out to her girlfriend of a year, "Zoe, babe, I'm home!"
"Zo! I'm back from work!" Emily called out.
Emily wondered through the small flat. She didn't see any trace of Zoe. Then she heard the panicked gasps from her bedroom. She rushed to the door, but it was locked.
"Zoe, let me in please?" Emily asked. The sobs didn't momentarily stop and the door was never unlocked. She could hear Zoe crying, almost feel it herself. Zoe let out an anguished scream, high pitched and pained. Emily reached over the door frame, standing atop her tip-y-toes and grabbed the key resting on its edge. She unlocked the door, leaving the key inside the lock in the midst of her haste to near her beloved.
Emily pulled the bathroom door open and saw Zoe, sat on the floor. She was holding a shard of the mirror, it's other broken pieces surrounding her. The only blood though came from her tight clutch on the object. Emily took it from her and threw it into the trash.
"Zoe, babe," Emily sighed out. Emily hugged Zoe tight and scooped her up from the ground. She struggled carrying Zoe to bed, but she managed.
Emily grabbed a rap, meant for her bad wrist, she'd sprained it trying to learn to skate backwards. She rushed back to Zoe and wrapped up her hand. She clipped the wrap in place and sat beside her on their bed.Emily pulled Zoe gently on to her lap. She ran her fingers through her hair and sang quietly a song Zoe had told her she loved.
"Do you ever wonder if the stars shine out for you? Float down, like autumn leaves," Emily sang quietly. She sang that song along with many others trying to calm Zoe down. Zoe wasn't going to ask what had happened. She'd wait for Zoe to tell her, that was reasonable, unless your like Emily who is worried she's the cause.
After Zoe had drifter to sleep Emily laid her back on the bed, slipping from underneath. She tucked a pillow under her head and pulled up a quilt she'd been given by her cousin. She sat a stuffed animal that'd had clearly been around much longer then Zoe had next to her and left her to sleep.
Emily cleaned up the broken mirror, careful not to cut herself. She made some sweet tea for Zoe when she woke. Emily turned on the TV and about three episodes of Mythbusters later Zoe was crawling into Emily's side.
"I made you some tea," Emily motioning to the fridge. Zoe nodded and got up to pour herself some. She raised the glasses and bent in her eyebrow as if to ask if Emily wanted any. She shook her head no and Zoe put it away.
Zoe sat back down next to Emily sipping at her cup of. "Thanks," she whispered quietly.
"Of course, love," Emily replied.
Three weeks later Emily still hadn't the slightest idea of what had happened that day. Her and Emily were packing their bags so they could get going up to New Jersey. Emily was minding to herself about the topic but she was rather curious.
Almost as if Zoe was reading her mind she said, "I came out to my mum and dad." Emily looked up shocked.
"Babe," Emily said, "what'd they think?" Emily hugged Zoe's side. Emily them realized something, she'd broken down. "Oh my gosh, Zo," Emily sighed out again.
"The-they won't talk to m-m-me," Zoe sobbed out.
"I'm so sorry," Emily said hugging Zoe tighter. "My mom and dad will love you." Zoe nodded and slipped from Emily's embrace to continue packing. Soon both were finished and packing up Emily's car.
They stood on Emily's parents' front stoop. Zoe shook nervously, clutching Emily's hand. She bounced on her toes, trying to keep calm. Emily used the door knocker to hit the front door again. Just a few moments later the door flew open and there stood a a guy, probably her younger brother. Emily dropped Zoe's hand and hugged the boy, Marc, she'd called him. He was a cute kid.
"So, this must be Zoe?" Marc said after letting go of Emily. Zoe nodded her head smiling. Emily grabbed Zoe's hand and pushed passed her brother into the house.
"Is Isabel here?" Emily asked turning to her brother.
"Nah, bout an hour away," he responded heading into the house's family room.
"I think my parents are I'm here," Emily says pushing open the kitchen door. The chatting gets louder when the door open and there sits Emily's parents. Emily was squished between the two of them in a hug.
"Mom, dad, this is Zoe," Emily said, "my girlfriend." Zoe smiled at the two of them nervously. She tried to keep her heels on the ground an her hands from sweating. She pushed her glasses back up her nose.
"Great to meet you," Emily's mom said.
"Take care of her," Emily's dad added.
And just like that she was a part of the family. Zoe spent Christmas with them. Originally she was going to head back to Ap. and watch Christmas movies and wait until Emily got back. Emily wouldn't let that happen and her family insisted on her staying.
Zoe also stayed for New Year's Eve. The Richard family was having a party meaning Zoe had to help Emily host. Zoe had fun despite all the people and noise. Her and Emily snuggled in Emily's bed to watch the ball drop while everyone else was downstairs.
On January first they headed back to there flat. The ride home was full of Emily singing and Zoe smiling and turning the radio off only for Emily to turn it back on.
Three years later Emily and Zoe were sitting on there porch. It was the Fourth of July and they watched the fireworks going off at their neighbors. Zoe coward into Emily every time one went off.
Emily was eating a burger and Zoe was pulling apart a piece of whole wheat bread. They were playing Pictionary as they watched, and listening to music. Zoe had made the playlist.
The next song was Marry Me by Bruno Mars. It was Zoe's turn and she'd planned it all out. She was taking her time to draw out a diamond ring on a Pictionary card writing 'Will you marry me, Emily?' Then the song came on and Zoe got Emily's attention by poking her side handing her the card. She smiled at her rather wide. "I love you Emily Kate Richard. You're a big part of my life. And I couldn't do without you. Will you be my wife?" Zoe pulled a ring out and got down on one knee.
"Oh my god. Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. Of course Zoe. I love you, too, Zoe," Emily says hugging Zoe. Zoe slipped the ring on her finger and Emily smiled down at the ring. It's was a silver band with a heart-like shaped infinity, that was studded with diamonds. "Oh my fvck. It's so beautiful, like you," Emily said leaning in to kiss Zoe, hard, too. And Zoe would be lying if she said she didn't like it too.