No Questions Please

"The story you're about to read... not all of us want you to know about it. Please keep it to yourself. Don't let anyone know what you learn, okay? We could get in trouble. Or killed."
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.

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8. Hunter

Fall number one was the only one that was purely unintentional. I had been five years old, on the swings at the playground, and I had gone just a little too high and ended up tumbling out. I didn’t remember much except it hurt and my head had been pounding and my mom ran over to me and picked me up while my dad stood there. That’s what I remembered the most. My dad hadn’t done anything except watch my mom put me in the car and buckle me into my seat. Then he had come over to the car slowly and taken his spot in the passenger seat next to my mom and they had said something to each other although I don’t know what because I had been crying and also I hadn’t had my hearing aids yet. My mom had been signing furiously to me but I hadn’t been registering. That’s what I remembered, at least. Mom said I had been fixed up and healed within a month since I had been small and still developing or whatever.

Fall number two was the first one that was at least partially not an accident. This was back when we lived in Illinois and we had the big house with the attic, when I was eight. I had been upset because my mom had explained that my dad was considering moving me to an all-deaf school where I’d have to live. I guess I’d been upset because if that were to happen, I would have had to have moved away from my mom and from all of my friends I had made at school and my neighborhood and everything I had ever known. Mom had said that Dad had thought it would be a better opportunity for me to have the education I needed or whatever. I had climbed up into the attic to think, into my little corner, and there was a small part of me that had looked down and thought that if I fell off of the little ledge, then maybe it would be over and I wouldn’t have to worry about the fact that my dad was considering moving me away from home and to a special school. I had climbed out onto the ledge to see how far down it went, and I had overextended myself just enough to topple over and fall through the wood, onto the hardwood floor of the hallway below. My left arm had been broken. I didn’t really remember it hurting, I just remembered it happening, and kinda thinking that I had actually done that, and I really didn’t believe myself, and that at least I hadn’t died. And what had I been thinking? This fall had been the first not entirely accidental fall, and also the first time I’d broken something.

But sadly fall number two wasn’t the last, or even the worst. In between number two and number three, my dad and my mom had gotten into several fights. Which would’ve been much worse to watch if I had had my hearing aids at that age, but at least I hadn’t had to listen to them yelling at each other. Most of the time I had ended up just sticking to myself in my room. I thought it was during that time that I had become as introverted as I was now. Even now, I didn’t know what they were fighting about. Mom had never told me.

Fall number three had happened when I was ten, not even a year after fall number two. This was the last fall that my dad had been around for. This one I guess had happened because I was scared that Mom and Dad were always fighting. This one wasn’t in the attic, because between two and three we had moved to our house now, in New York. But, being the adventurous child I had been, I had discovered the ledge of our roof not long after moving in. Mom hadn’t known anything about it- even now, I didn’t think she knew it existed. But I had been young, and lonely, and in a new place, and I guess tired of being ignored by my then hero, my dad. And I had climbed out onto the roof. And, like the attic, there was the part of me that had considered maybe my dad wouldn’t ignore me anymore if I fell off. And, like the attic, it had been partially accidental. Only partially. I had let myself stand up a little too fast, and the next thing I knew, the taste of gravel and blood had entered my mouth. Fall number three had broken my left arm again, as well as a bone in my right leg. At least I hadn’t had to go to the new school for a little while. And, even after fall number three, my dad didn’t stop ignoring me. In fact, he ignored me more.

I had gone to bed the night of March 2nd bundled up tight under three fleece blankets. My mom had tucked me in, as she always did, and made sure my arm was okay, even though both my casts had been off for about two or three months. My dad hadn’t even come into my room. I hadn’t known that morning would be the last time I would ever see him, which I guess is why our encounter that morning hadn’t really stuck with me.

I had woken up the morning of March 3rd bundled up tight under three fleece blankets. My mom had walked in, as she always did, and signed a good morning to me while I focused on her with half awake eyes. My dad had disappeared that night. As I had wandered into the kitchen, I had realized all of his stuff was gone. Mom had known much earlier than I had, yet she had still gone through the normal morning routine and put on a brave face and a smile for me. I had asked Mom where Dad went, and she told me he had taken his stuff and his car and had left. I had asked when he was coming back, and Mom hadn’t answered. Instead, she had handed me a plate of homemade waffles. She always made those on my birthday.

My eleventh birthday had been eventful for another reason, though. That was the birthday I had received hearing aids for. Hearing sound for the first time had been remarkable, but it hadn’t been as remarkable without my dad there to experience it with me. I hadn’t known at the time that the reason he had left my mom was because she had invested in the hearing aids. My dad hadn’t wanted anything to do with a deaf child, and I guess he definitely hadn’t wanted anything to do with teaching a now hearing child how to communicate.

Fall number four had been because of this. Mom had explained to me where dad had went, and it had made me upset. Like, really upset. Like the three before it, I didn’t really remember it hurting, I just remembered that it happened. I remembered the feeling of toppling off of the ledge again, but it hadn’t been because I had let myself stand up too fast. This time, it had been because I had lost my balance when I tried to sit down. My left wrist had been broken and my left ankle was also sprained. I had been twelve. My mom had waited a little over a year to finally explain things to me.

Between number four and number five was when life started to kinda go downhill. I had already been struggling with the loss of my dad, and now I had had the added stress of feeling as if it was my fault that he had left. And, on top of that, I had been learning how to talk. Which, after a year or so of learning, had been becoming easier and easier. But it had been something I had been dealing with. My mom had noticed, and she had tried talking to me, but I hadn’t wanted to open up to her about it because I had been scared that things would end up rocky between us. And she was the only person I had had at the time.

Fall number five had happened because I hadn’t had anyone else. This one wasn’t from the ledge, but this was the last one to happen from somewhere besides the ledge. This one was from a tree at the park. I had gone down there to think, and I had thought too much, and I had hit the ground and broken my right arm this time. I had been twelve, going on thirteen.

And after that I had discovered baseball, and Willard.

Willard was one of my best friends even now, but he had done more for me than just pose as a friend. Willard was the guy that had given me my first suspicions that maybe I wasn’t entirely straight. Willard was super cute. And when I had met him, the only thoughts going through my head hadn’t been straight ones. He and I had played baseball together on a community team, and we had both ended up being good. Neither of us had spoken one hundred percent perfect English, but that had made it easier to talk to each other at first. For my thirteenth birthday, I had actually had a sorta party for once. Even though it had only been just me and Willard and some of my mom’s cupcakes.

But I had been mad at myself for still feeling sad even though my life had been good because I finally had a friend. Fall number six had been the old lose my balance trick out on the ledge. The third time I had broken my left arm.

Then my mom had started working nights. And, surprisingly, not much had changed. Willard and I still had played baseball and stuff and I had even joined orchestra and when I went into eighth grade I got to play for West and watch the football team and stuff. I hadn’t really made more friends, but that was okay because at least I had one. I had been able to speak pretty fluently at this point. But one night had gotten a little too lonely. That’s when number seven had happened.

It had been off of the ledge again. This time I hadn’t done the lose my balance thing, because I had gotten too good at that, and it had begun to feel too intentional. This time I had sat with my feet over the edge, and I guess I had scooted a little too far, because I had fallen and my mom had left her shift to come sit with me in the emergency room, where they told me I had broken my right arm. Again. And my mom had been concerned, and she had told me I needed to talk to someone. I was fourteen.

The summer before the current high school year, I had met Heather. She was basically my therapist, although my mom had described her as a ‘mental health counselor’. She was easy to talk to because I didn’t need to worry about her judging me. I could say whatever I wanted, and she had to listen, because that’s what she got paid to do. It had been a foreign concept at first. Now, it just made sense. I looked forward to seeing Heather. Heather knew all about Jake.

Sadly, there had been one more fall over the summer. Off of the ledge again. This one hadn’t been as bad, because as I had started to let myself go, I had realized what I was doing and positioned myself to where nothing was broken. Except my right wrist, apparently. But that was healed up. And I could play baseball now. Which was good, since I had made the school team.

Whenever I went outside onto the ledge, I would get memories of all of the falls I’d had off of this ledge. Five, to be exact. None of them fully unintentional. But none of them fully intentional, either. Whenever I went out to meet Jake, I’d get worried maybe I’d fall again. But then he would come out and the worry would go away. Because when he was around, I didn’t think I wanted to fall anymore.  

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