No Questions Please

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A seemingly normal high school student's life is turned upside down. Then so is another's. And another's. Everything weird that's happening- it's connected. Deeper than anyone would've ever thought.


2. Colette

The first thing I noticed was the car he drove.

It was a red pickup truck. It had a kinda small bed, uncovered, empty, shiny and new looking. A red pickup truck immediately made me think he was gonna be a tough guy. Either that or some Southern hillbilly type that listened to country music and maybe had a Confederate flag bumper sticker. I didn’t want to look at him. Jake, my twin brother, was trying to; he was anxious to see his face. I personally didn’t feel like looking him in the eyes and deciding if I wanted to spend the next three or so years living with him. I’m sure it was because I was nervous.

I didn’t want him to look at me. I didn’t want him to see me because I didn’t want to see him. And also, because my hair was a mess. I hadn’t had much time to get ready in the morning. Mrs. Ferguson had woken us up talking about how “today was the luckiest day of our lives” and then only gave us about fifteen minutes to even get our stuff together before our duffel bags of possessions were thrown into the trunk of her minivan and we were ushered into the second row of seats.

His brown work boots were getting closer to the door. They stopped right outside, and I knew he was opening it. Jake let out a small gasp of excitement. I felt like my lunch from a few hours ago was about to make a reappearance. I turned my head to face the window behind me, which offered a positively breathtaking view of the sewage plant. Honestly, the sewage plant was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen if it meant not having to look at him.

My heart was pounding so hard that Mrs. Ferguson’s over enthusiastic voice was faint in my ears. She was introducing us. “This is Jacob and Colette,” she was saying. “I’m sure you’ve been as excited for this day as they have.”

Like flood water breaking through a dam, his unfamiliar voice penetrated my ears. “I don’t know. If I were them, I probably would’ve been pretty nervous myself.”

He doesn’t have a Southern accent, I’m ashamed to admit was the first thing that popped into my mind. His voice was pretty much accent free, actually. He spoke evenly, at a comfortable volume that made him sound confident and maybe a little excited, but not nearly as much as Mrs. Ferguson. I kinda wanted to look at him now. Just to see if maybe my mental image was right. Plus, I was sure he had laid eyes on me at this point.

I felt Jake’s arm rub up against mine, subtly trying to tell me to pay attention to the man in front of us and actually introduce myself and not be weird. I didn’t want to. But I turned my head to look at Jake, trying to block the man out of my peripheral vision. I raised my eyebrows, trying to ask him what he wanted. Jake subtly shook his head, then tore his eyes away from mine. I felt strangely alone. I wanted my brother to be there for me, but he wasn’t. He wanted to dive right into this new life, I was scared. I was terrified. I wanted more than ever to go back to Kauai and be with my mom and dad and just have everything be normal. But that was too much to ask for.

“So you’re Jacob? Jake?” he asked.

“Jake works,” Jake said, and I could see him smile. He’s so cute when he smiles. God. I’m sure our adoptive father was falling in love with him more and more every second that went by. And probably disregarding me.

“And you’re Colette.” I could feel his eyes burning into me, trying to force my chin to move just a few degrees to the left so I could look at him and he could look at me. I didn’t want to. But I felt like I had to. I turned my head and looked up at him.

The thing that surprised me the most was the fact that his eyes were blue. I don’t know what I was expecting, I guess. I mean, blue’s a pretty common eye color. Maybe it wasn’t the color of his eyes on its own, but the fact that they were the same color as my dad’s, and he looked a lot like my dad otherwise too. Honestly, when I first turned my head and looked at him, I thought he actually was my dad. And then I thought it was wishful thinking. And then I realized that he actually looked like that.

“I’m Trevor,” he said.

I nodded, and immediately regretted it. That was stupid. God. I needed to pull myself together.

But Trevor, surprisingly, didn’t seem to mind. His blue gaze focused gently on me, as if he were trying to forgive me with his eyes. It was like he understood that I was just scared. It was getting harder and harder for me to dislike him.

“So, uh, I don’t want to rush things, but are you guys ready to go?” Trevor asked.

Jake was out of his seat in half a second, his duffel bag strapped across him and trumpet case in hand. Despite how quickly he moved, he replied casually, “Yeah, sure.”

Trevor’s eyes turned back to me. “Colette?”

I stood up much slower than Jake, sliding my duffel bag strap over my head and across my chest. As I reached down to grab my instrument, I nodded.

Trevor smiled at me, a smile that reached his eyes even though it was close lipped. Then he turned to Mrs. Ferguson and showed her the same smile. He said, very sincerely, “Thank you.”

Mrs. Ferguson’s smile was less sincere, as it always is. She responded, “Thank you!

Trevor opened the door for us, and Jake- of course- was out the door quicker than I even realized he could walk. I followed after him much less enthusiastically. Trevor didn’t seem to notice.

As we walked across the parking lot to Trevor’s red truck, I avoided eye contact as much as I possibly could. I could tell Jake was bursting with excitement. There were so many things he wanted to ask and say and know and share, and if he opened his mouth all of them would start spilling out. So he just smiled, walking with a bounce in his step that I hadn’t seen since Kauai. I so desperately wanted to be like that too. I wanted to let go of everything I was feeling, all the nervousness that Trevor wouldn’t be as nice as he seemed now or that I wouldn’t fit in at my new school or that everything would fall apart now that I wasn’t able to rely on the fact that I would be leaving wherever I was staying and going to school. Things were going to become concrete now, and I was terrified for that. Maybe Jake hadn’t thought about that yet. Maybe that’s why he was so happy.

“That’s a big instrument, Colette. What is it? A guitar?” Trevor asked.

I couldn’t help it. A laugh escaped my mouth. A guitar? “No, it’s a trombone.”

Trevor smiled. “Ah, I see. So you play jazz?”

I shrugged. “Sometimes.”

Trevor nodded. “So Jake, that’s a trumpet you’ve got there, right?”

Jake nodded excitedly. “Yeah. Colette and I started playing in fifth grade, and I’m so excited because our new school has a pretty good band program, even though it’s kinda small-“ Jake cut off. “Sorry. I’m rambling.”

Trevor smiled fondly, and this time it was an open-mouthed smile. “No, that’s cute. I mean, that clearly you’re so passionate about it. I can’t wait for you to start the new program.”

Jake blushed a little. “Me either.”

“Me either,” I put in, and Jake looked knowingly in my direction.

Trevor patted the bed of his truck that we had now reached. “Good thing I emptied the rest of our stuff at the house before coming over here. Now we have room for your-” He hesitated, glancing at my case, then said with a questioning tone, “Trombone…”

I looked up at him and allowed a small smile to let him know he was right before placing my instrument against the wall of the truck bed. I shoved my duffel bag next to it, trying to squeeze it in against the interior of the truck so it wouldn’t fly out. Trevor turned to Jake, nodding towards the truck to ask if Jake wanted to set his stuff in the back too. My brother shrugged, then tossed his stuff in against the wall opposite mine.

Trevor pulled open the back door to his truck. “Miss Colette?”

God, it was getting even harder to dislike him. That was so cute. I blushed, accepting his outstretched hand to push myself into the truck, which was rather high off the ground.

I climbed into the truck, which had grey seats and four windows to match the four doors. I positioned myself behind the driver’s seat so Jake would have room to sit in the seat next to me. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. My hair wasn’t as much of a mess as I thought, but I still chose to pull it back into a ponytail just so it would be out of the way. I was nervous, and I tended to sweat when I was nervous. And having my hair around my face wasn’t really helping.

I felt Jake in the seat next to me, and when I looked over at him, his brown eyes were alight with excitement. It set in for me. This was it. The moment. From now until forever, this man was going to be listed as our legal guardian, on records as our parent and caretaker during adolescence.

I was starting to think maybe I wouldn’t hate that so much.


We pulled up outside a house in a neighborhood where many of the houses were rather close to each other. It seemed cramped. The house we were outside, which I got a better glimpse of as I slid out of the truck, was pale blue. Jake didn’t seem to like it, because I noticed him wrinkling his nose as he looked up at the house we were going to call our own. Jake missed Kauai the most because of all the open space, how you could actually see the stars at night. And all these tightly packed houses were definitely a far cry from that.

Trevor appeared, carrying a duffel bag over each shoulder and one of our instruments in each hand. When I hurried to grab my stuff from him, he shook his head and said, “You can go ahead and open the door, if you’re so eager to help.”

Jake smiled at me from behind Trevor, obviously trying to avoid looking around at the neighborhood. I could tell he was disappointed. If I was being honest, I was too.

I was even more disappointed when I opened the door.

A stench something along the lines of alcohol and the boys locker room hit me as soon as I stepped inside. There were cardboard boxes stacked next to the door, although a few had been pulled off the stack and broken into. And I could hear frustrated bickering from the top of a wooden staircase I noticed near the center of the room.

Trevor sighed as he pulled the door shut behind him, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “Gabriel!”

A few seconds passed before a dark haired boy appeared at the top of the staircase. He said sweetly, “Yes, Papa?” His eyes drifted over to Jake and I and his expression immediately brightened. “Oh! Are these-”

“Yeah, Gabe, but I could hear you arguing with your sisters and I really needed it to stop,” Trevor said, and I could hear the tiredness in his voice. He smiled somewhat sarcastically, then turned to Jake and I. “This is Gabe, my son. Kinda a disappointment.”

“Excuse me!” Gabe protested, and Jake giggled.

Trevor shook his head. “So clearly you boys are going to get along swell.”

Gabe nodded excitedly, an open-mouthed grin spreading across his face. He bounded down the stairs two at a time before appearing in front of Jake and I. “So who’re you guys? I didn’t listen to the details Dad told me.”

As I was about to answer him, another voice did it for me. “Well, I know the girl’s name is Colette. Or something like that. Right?”

I looked up to the staircase, where I had heard the voice. There was a girl who seemed about my age that looked almost exactly like Trevor, with the same wavy dark hair and the blue eyes that reminded me so much of my dad. She must have been Gabe’s sister.

“Yeah, I’m Colette. And my brother is Jake,” I said.

Next to the first, another girl appeared, this one shorter and with red hair. “Ooh, like Jake Gyllenhaal.”

Jake shrugged. A smile spread across the face of the redhead slowly, and she nodded in his direction. She said, “We’re gonna be best friends. I can feel it. I’m Lily, by the way, and this-” She pointed to the other girl- “is Holly. We’re both named after plants, which is cool.”

I waved a little and Jake gave a quiet, “Nice to meet you.”

“Hey, why don’t you guys go upstairs and see your rooms?” Trevor suggested, placing one hand on my shoulder and the other on Jake’s.

“Yeah,” Jake said. “Can I bring my stuff up there, too?”

“Oh, of course,” Trevor replied, handing Jake his duffel bag and his trumpet. “This duffel’s yours, right? I think I remember, but I can’t be sure.”

Jake nodded. “Yeah, it is. Thanks.”

“Sure,” Trevor said nonchalantly. He handed me my stuff. “You wanna go with him?”

I nodded my response, slinging my duffel across my body. Jake was already about halfway up the narrow staircase by now, and he turned to look at me. I could see the excitement in his eyes. I was starting to feel a little less disappointed in the house. Maybe because I was finally beginning to get used to the awful smell.

As I started up the stairway, I surveyed the house. It felt almost as cramped inside as it looked from the outside, which probably had to do with how dark it seemed. There was only a few windows that let in the natural light, and there was a light on over the table in the kitchen downstairs. As I went up the stairs, the terrible stench because less overpowering, but there was also less light and it became darker. Lily and Holly had parted as Jake and I started to make our way towards them, and by the time we reached the top they were gone.

“Col!” Jake said excitedly, and I noticed he was peeking into a room. “This one’s definitely yours!”

“Why?” I asked, hesitant to look into the room. I stepped next to him and looked into the room, which had a small window facing the back of the house and didn’t offer much of a view. “Because it has a window?”

“No,” Jake said. “Look.”

I followed his finger to a string of wooden letters hanging on the wall, painted a shade of light purple. I had to reread it after looking at it the first time. C, O, L, E, T, T, E. Colette. My name was hanging on the wall. They had put this there.

I dropped my stuff onto the wooden floor and wandered into my room. There was a small-ish bed, probably twin sized, pressed up against the wall right below the letters of my name, and it was made all nicely, complete with a blue comforter patterned with pink swirls. There was also a little desk against the other wall, a wooden desk with a white finish. And next to the desk was a matching dresser. I wanted so desperately to unpack all my stuff. Put all of my clothes into my dresser and set up my school stuff in its own little corner and arrange my stuffed animals on the bed and then throw myself onto it and just lay there and stare at the letters. But I had some self restraint, and instead I just set my duffel bag onto the bed.

As I turned to leave to get a glimpse of Jake’s room, I noticed a door on the back wall of my room. I wandered over to it and pulled it open, and I found a closet- completely empty, except for a lacey black dress. I wondered if whoever used to live here had accidentally left it. It seemed like Trevor and Gabe and Holly and Lily had just moved in within the past few days, since there were so many moving boxes everywhere that were still full of stuff. And also because, from what I could tell of them, they didn’t seem like the kind of people who would cause the house to smell like it did.

Still, even knowing the dress probably belonged to whoever used to live here, curiosity got the best of me and I reached out and pulled it towards myself. As I did so, a piece of paper fell off the hanger and through the collar of the dress, landing on the wooden floor at my feet. I set the dress down on my bed so it wouldn’t get wrinkled, then picked up the paper and opened it. I was more than surprised to see it was addressed to me.

Colette, it said in neat, somewhat slanted, small handwriting. Lily won’t wear this and Holly’s too tall for it. I wanted it to go to a good home. Even though Trevor and I barely know anything about you, I figured you were it. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t fit, whatever. I’m sure one of Holly’s little friends would be interested. Anyway, I can’t wait to meet you!

It was signed, simply, Becca. Whoever that was. Maybe Trevor’s wife or something. I mean, he had kids. Whoever she was, she sounded pretty nice. And the dress was absolutely beautiful.

I set the note down on my desk, then reached over and held the dress up to me. It seemed about my size. I’d try it on later to be sure, though. I hung the dress back up in my closet and stepped out into the hall to find Jake’s room.

“Hey, Col.”

Jake was standing in between my room and the one on the other side of the wall, which I was thankful appeared to be his. I cocked my head as I looked at him, and he gestured for me to come in.

His room had a similar setup to mine, except his bedding was black and red, and the letters spelling his name above his bed were painted red instead of purple like mine. I wondered if there was something waiting in the closet for him, but I decided not to ask him. I wanted to keep the note from Becca to myself. Even though I hadn’t yet met her, for some reason, she felt like someone I could trust.

“I think Holly’s on my other wall,” he said. “But I don’t wanna go in there and, y’know, invade her space or whatever.”

“Yeah, us girls are weird like that,” I teased.

Jake rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”

“So how are you liking it?” I asked.

Jake’s face broke out in one of his signature adorable grins. “Oh man, Col, I can’t even begin to explain. It’s like… it’s not what I imagined, but at the same time, it’s better. Y’know?”

I nodded. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

“And Holly and Lily seem nice. They live upstairs, too, I found out, but Gabe’s room is downstairs with Trevor,” Jake informed me.

“Is that all you found out?” I asked.

Jake shrugged. “Honestly, I was just wandering, and I kinda picked up on some stuff Gabe was saying. I have no idea what to ask or who to ask it to. Like, I’m just pretty confused.”

I nodded. “Me too. I feel like I can talk to Holly and Lily, y’know? But maybe that’s just ‘cause I’m a girl and so are they and I don’t get very much girl time since I’m always hanging out with you.”

Jake shoved me and I stumbled backwards, a grin I couldn’t stop spreading across my face.

“Okay, okay,” I said, putting my hands up submissively. “You’re my favorite person, Jacob. You make me so happy and every time I’m around you I am positively elated. The amount of joy I feel when I fix my eyes on you cannot be surpassed-”

“I get it, Col,” Jake muttered, tossing his duffel bag onto the bed. “I think I’m gonna unpack now. And then maybe I’ll go talk to one of the other kids or something. Y’know, ‘cause I’m social.”

I rolled my eyes, stepping out into the hallway. “Bye, Jake.”

“Wait, Col,” he said.

“Yeah?” I paused, turning around to face him. His room had a window, and the sunlight from it was hitting his dark chocolate colored hair, bringing out the gold-ish highlights that I used to see all the time during evenings on the beach in Kauai. I wondered if my hair did that too.

Jake turned his dark eyes away from mine and focused them on the wooden floor, which was almost the same copper color as the skin tone we shared. “It’s just…” He paused. With a sigh, he continued softly, “I’ve been so used to having you when I didn’t have, like, anyone, and so, if I wanted to come into your room… that would be okay, right?”

I locked in Jake’s gaze, identical to my own, and said, “Yeah, Jake, of course.”

Jake smiled, but his eyes still remained focused on the floor. “Thanks.”

“Yeah,” I threw over my shoulder as I padded into my new room to start unpacking my stuff. Before going to my duffel, I slipped off my black Converse and set them next to the door to my room. Then, I unzipped my duffel and pulled out my two pairs of pajamas, one of which had been halfheartedly folded before being thrown into my duffel in the mad rush to leave our previous foster home this morning. I refolded this pair much neater before tucking both pairs into the top drawer of my dresser.

The late afternoon light streamed in through the small window as I methodically unpacked my duffel bag, a routine I had become rather familiar with after living in so many different foster homes. Then, when everything was put in its place, I stored the empty duffel on the top shelf of my closet. I flopped down onto my bed and listened to the hum of Lily and Holly talking to each other in the hallway. They were my adoptive sisters. That was new to me, since it had always just been me and Jake growing up. What did you do with sisters? Talk about boys? Talk about cats? God, I’m pathetic.

I don’t know what it was that made me fall asleep. Probably the combination of the warm early evening light on my face and how soft my new bed was and the gently muffled voices from my adoptive sisters in the hallway. But the next thing I knew, I woke up to my room almost completely dark and Gabe in the hallway singing Taylor Swift.

I sat up and reached to my ponytail, making sure it hadn’t fallen out. When all my hair was in place, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and padded out into the hallway.

“Ooh, look what you made me do, look what you made me do-”

“Gabe, shut up,” Lily snapped, and I could see her room was across from mine. “What’re you even doing up here? You’re downstairs for a reason, y’know.”

“I was just coming to let you know that Dad’s on his way home with pizza and we’re gonna get the speaker system set up so I can play as much Taylor Swift as I want,” Gabe replied haughtily. He smiled at me when we locked eyes. “Hey, Colette.”

“Hey,” I said, trying not to sound half-awake and awkward.

“Your brother’s pretty cool, y’know? He and I have been downstairs moving boxes for the past few hours. But just now we took a break so we could play Scattergories. He’s kinda a riot. You wanna come play with us?” Gabe offered.

Before I could answer, Holly put in from her spot next to her sister, “Leave her alone, Gabe.”

“I’ll play,” I responded as Gabe stuck his tongue out at Holly. After hearing my response, he gave a condescending smile.

Right as I was about to head downstairs next to Gabe, the door opened and I saw Trevor come in holding three boxes of pizza. He shut the door behind him with his foot and turned to Jake. “Well, I see you’re the only one actually doing anything.”

“Gabe and I have been moving boxes for the past two and a half-ish hours,” Jake said. “I think Colette took a nap.”

Trevor set the pizzas down on the kitchen countertop as Gabe bounded down the stairs in what I now realized was his typical two at a time fashion. “Poor girl. Both of you guys are probably so tired.”

“I’m tired too,” Gabe whined.

Trevor shook his head, not looking at his son. He said dryly, “I’m sure you are, sweetie.”

Gabe pouted, turning his eyes to Jake. The corner of my brother’s mouth turned up and I started down the stairs.

“There she is,” Trevor said, his blue eyes turning on me. “Did you take a nap or does your brother like to make wrongful assumptions?”

“I fell asleep,” I answer. “I don’t know why.”

“Eh, no big deal,” Lily said in her casual tone, and I turned around to see she and Holly had come down the stairs behind me. “I did too.”

“Ooh, pizza,” Holly said excitedly. She pushed her sister. “I’m hungry. Move it, nerd.”

Lily turned to me with a dry, unamused expression and shook her head. Trevor eyed Holly expectantly.

“What, Dad?” Holly asked.

“I love you, Dad. Thank you for bringing me food so I can survive,” Trevor said in a mockingly high pitched voice.

Holly rolled her eyes. “Thank you, Father.”

“You’re welcome, the sunshine of my life,” Trevor responded in the same dry tone he had used with Gabe. “Now, Jake and Colette get to pick first because I said so, and because Gabe would try to put a whole pizza on his plate if I let him get up here first and that’s unhealthy.”

Trevor distributed pizza slices amongst the six of us on white paper plates, then we moved to the living room and arranged ourselves in a circle on the floor around the Scattergories game Jake and Gabe had set up.

“You guys wanna play this?” Trevor asked.

Looking back at it, I thought we all said something along the lines of “sure.” And I can’t remember the specifics of what happened next, although I discovered that Gabe has a very different definition of what “in the sky” means than the rest of us. But what I can remember is that we played long into the night, and it was well past ten o’clock when Trevor tucked me into bed, into my new blue and pink bed under the purple letters that spelled my name. I can remember how it felt when he smoothed my hair back and told me goodnight. I can remember the sound of his voice as he said, “I love you.”


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