There was only a week until school started back and Suzy still wasn’t talking. Nala and Suzy sat at the breakfast table eating, but Nala wouldn’t take her eyes off her Foster Sister. Finally, Suzy couldn’t take it anymore. She reached for her pad and scribbled messily in it.
She demanded, Nala sighed and shook her head.
“Could you really not open your mouth and say that one little word? Suzy just gave her a death glare and wrote more in the notepad.
It wouldn’t have stopped you staring at me.
She replied and put the notepad down to continue eating, indicating the conversation was over. Nala didn’t agree though.
“Suze, there is less than a week until school, people will think you’re a freak if you don’t talk.” Suzy reached for her notepad one last time and very deliberately wrote:
Later that day Mrs. Golde found Nala alone in the room crying. She sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed her back.
“What’s wrong Nala, sweetie?” she asked in that sweet, tender voice only Mothers can pull off. Nala continued to sob for a few seconds before she managed to compose herself and sit up.
“I told Suzy she needs to talk because school is starting soon and everybody will think she’s a freak if she doesn’t. She wrote a note to me saying ‘Will you..?’ and I couldn’t answer her. I’m not sure if I was shocked, upset, or subconsciously I do, all I know is I didn’t answer her, and now she won’t even write notes to me!” Nala started crying again and Mrs. Golde wrapped her arm around the young girls shoulders and frowned.
“Nala.. I can help, just tell me what happened?” Nala looked up into the eyes of a lady who now seemed more a Mother to her then her own Mother did. Mrs. Golde held her breath, so hopeful, but that came crashing down on top of her with the next few words Nala said.
“I.. Can’t, I’m sorry.” She whispered and looked away, fighting back the tears that were struggling to escape again. Mrs. Golde sighed and patted Nala on the shoulder.
“It’s okay dear, I just hope one day you can open up enough to tell us.” She said and walked out of the room. Nala went to the bathroom and cleaned her face, then wandered out to the lounge where she knew Suzy was watching tv.
“Suze?” she asked, Suzy glanced behind her, nodded a little, and went back to her show. Nala noticed what she was watching and smiled, sitting beside her. Revenge of the Raven Princess was one of their favourite shows, they didn’t often watch tv anymore so didn’t see it too much. When it was over Nala grabbed the remote and switched the tv off, Suzy got up to leave but Nala held her down.
“Suzy, we need to talk.” She said, and knowing Suzy wouldn’t reply just continued without much of a beat. “Not that you talk.. But I didn’t mean to not reply while we were eating earlier, I really didn’t, you just took me by surprise with that question. Do I think you’re a freak? No! Not at all, I was there, of course I was, I was the one who went through it. I think you’re just scared.” Nala finished, Suzy stared at her friend and grabbed her notepad off the arm of the couch they were on.
I’m sorry for saying you thought I was a freak, even though I didn’t really say it, it was implied. And I know you’d never think I was a freak. I definitely am scared..
Nala read it and nodded, then smiled. “Saying I’d never think you’re a freak is a bit of a stretch..” Suzy gave her a playful slap. “Yes well, I can understand you’re scared, but we’re at your house now Suze, with your amazing parents and sweet younger brother, bossy older sister, we will both be fine.” She promised. Suzy nodded and smiled a little.
I know. She wrote, then paused and wrote a bit more. But I still can’t say a word.
The looked in her eye really scared Nala, to the point she had to look away and bite her lip so she wouldn’t scream. Once she composed herself she turned to look at Suzy again.
“I understand.” She said, even though she really didn’t. “At least try to talk before school starts, please?” she begged, Suzy just nodded and gave her a hug, then stood up and wrote her another note.
Want a smoothie? I’m making.
A big grin spread over Nala’s face and she nodded enthusiastically. “Hells yeah!! I’ll take a strawberry and cream.” She said, following her friend into the kitchen.
Once the girls were gone, Mrs. Golde stepped out from behind the door into Denaya’s room and sat down on the couch, her brow furrowed as she thought about what they said.
“Nice family now? Here. Suzy’s too scared to talk..” Finally, she realised there was one thing they hadn’t tried. She picked up the phone and dialled the Lark house hold.
Of course, Mr. Lark was working, Mrs. Lark was home. So she picked up the phone when she heard it ringing.
“Hello? You’re talking to Imogene.” She said sitting down at the counter and sipping her freshly brewed coffee.
“Hi Imogene, it’s Penny Golde here.”
“Oh Penny, hi!! How’s our lovely daughters?” though the families weren’t close they knew each others daughters so well they just called them both their own.
“Well, that’s actually what I’ve been wanting to talk to you about..” Penny started. “See, the last time Suzy stayed at your house, and she hasn’t been back since, she came back and wouldn’t talk, at all, and she’s still not. Today I overheard them talking about how here they have a sweet family, cute little brother, bossy older sister, and I was wondering if you have any idea what could have happened while they were there??” she asked, out of breath by the time she finished, she’d spoken so fast because she was nervous she’d barely remembered to breathe. Imogene almost dropped her fancy little glass coffee shot glass when she heard the news. She put down the glass, her hand shaking and tried to steady herself.
“I had no idea, I’m so sorry.. I have no clue what could have happened.” She said in a hushed tone. “Have the girls given any clues? Penny thought about this and shook her head, just at the same time as she remembered.
“Actually, yes, that morning they came back, they mentioned Peter had been drinking. We all know he does so they don’t normally say anything, but this time they seemed really shaken up about it.” She could barely hear herself thinking over her throbbing headache as the anger built up, she was sure she knew what had happened now, and she was turning crazy with rage for her daughter, and Foster Daughter. “I think I know what happened..” she told Imogene, and told her, in detail, what she thought had happened that night. When she hung up the phone she marched down to the girls room.
“How dare you not tell me!!” she screamed at both the girls who were sitting on the floor playing Monopoly and sipping their Strawberry Smoothies, until Penny burst in screaming at them. Nala bit her lip and glanced at Suzy from the corner of her eye.
“Tell you what, Mrs. Golde?” she asked, nervously. Penny glared at Nala and shook her head.
“That your Father abused you. He hit you, didn’t he Nala? That’s why you don’t want to go home, you’re scared of him.” Suzy started to shake her head but Nala gave her a look and nodded.
“Yes,” she said, and hung her head, “that’s what happened, that’s why I hate going home. He always did it, always, but this time was worse, he was more drunk, more violent, and Suzy saw it, he threatened her not to say anything, that’s why she can’t talk. I’ve been trying to help her, but she physically can’t..” Penny’s eyes softened and she sunk to her knees beside her daughter, folding her arms around her small body and holding her tight.
“Oh baby, my baby, I’m so sorry you had to see.” She pulled Nala in and hugged her too. “And Nala, I’m so sorry that happened to you, so, so sorry, and you’re more then welcome to stay, to live here as long as you like. You will be safe here.” Nala nodded, tears in her eyes.
“Thank you, Mum, I appreciate it. I’m going to keep working with Suzy, try and get her to speak, hopefully before school starts.” Penny nodded and frowned.
“Do you think a speech therapist would help?” Suzy, silent the entire time, shook her head firmly, and glared at her Mother. Nala almost laughed but shook her head too.
“No, she should be okay, thank you though. We’re sorry we didn’t tell you.” Mrs. Golde nodded and stood up.
“Just let me know if you girls need anything, anything at all. Okay?” she asked, both girls nodded, and after giving them one last, sad, look, she left, shutting the door behind her. She walked down to her room, shut and locked the door, sat on her bed and sobbed silently, not believing how blind she had been to not see what had happened.