Silence (Silence #1)

Silence (Silence #1)

Natasha Preston

Chapter One


Most people have heard the phrase, ‘Silence is golden’; many would agree with it: people with screaming children running wild around the house or working in a noisy office. For me, however, it meant something entirely different. Silence consumed my whole life; it suppressed things I could never express. My silence was responsible for my family’s happiness. Silence was my prison.

“Are you ready to leave, Oakley? Cole is waiting outside,” my mum said softly. She leant against the doorframe of my room and smiled warmly. Through her smile, however, I could see how tired she looked. Dark shadows were now a permanent feature under her eyes. Her smile used to be my favourite part of her. Now it was as false as my own, and it was all because of me.

Every single day I want to tell her what has happened. To have her hold me in her arms and promise me that everything would be all right, but reality stopped me every time. The fantasy I had in my head of how things would turn out was just that; a fantasy. I knew that, he had told me enough times.

Placing my hairbrush on the dresser, I turned to Mum and nodded my head once. With a deep breath, I followed her downstairs.

It wasn’t until we reached the front door that she looked at me again. “Have a good day, okay?” Almost everything she said to me was a question. As the words left her mouth, her eyes widened in the desperate hope that I would reply, and every time I responded with a brief nod, her shoulders would sag.

I grabbed my school bag by the door and swung it over my shoulder as I walked outside.

The morning sun beamed down on me as I turned into the street, making me squint at the brightness. It was the middle of July, and almost time for school to close for the summer holidays.

Cole beeped his car horn even though he was parked right outside my house. Thanks, Cole might have missed you without that. He grinned through the window as I made my way to his car, his dark blue eyes glistening in the early light.

Cole Benson and I had been friends since we were babies. Mum had pictures of Cole holding my hand as I learned to walk. He was two years older than me, but he certainly didn’t act it. My mum and his mum, Jenna, met in high school, and they had been friends ever since.

“Good morning, sunshine,” he greeted, with a stretched grin. Unlike Mum’s, the smiles I received from him never changed. Grinning back was as natural as breathing. His happiness was infectious; our friendship had always been fun, affectionate, loving, and carefree.

It wasn’t always a bed of roses, though. There were times when he would beg and plead with me to tell him what was wrong. He had begged me to talk again. I found that harder than when Mum pleaded with me. As the one person that I could still feel normal with, I hated hurting and disappointing him.

He started the engine and his rusty old car roared to life. It hadn’t been long since he passed his driving test, but he was a good driver and I trusted him with my life – still, I gripped the seat as he sped off. We passed his house, which was just two doors away from mine, and I sighed. I hated school with a passion.

Cole talked almost continuously on the drive to school, chatting away about his car and what we would do later. Occasionally I would nod or smile in response to something he said, but apart from that I just sat and listened to him speaking. His voice was smooth and calming. Not talking to him was hard. I desperately wanted to return his quick banter with something smart of my own. But I stayed tongue-tied.

As we pulled into the half-full car park, I started to feel sick. People seemed to whisper to each other whenever I was around. I was used to it, but I still hated being the centre of all the jokes and bitchy comments.

“Oakley?” I jumped and looked up at Cole. He smiled. “You gonna be okay today?” I nodded, grimacing slightly. I hated when we had to go our separate ways, and I wished I was older so we would be in the same year.

“Text me if you need anything,” he instructed, kissing me on the cheek, sending little bolts of electricity through my body. Cole knew I wouldn’t text him, but he still said the same thing every single day. “See you later,” he called as he walked towards the sixth form block next to the high school.

Once he was out of view, I let the smile slip from my face. There was no one to pretend to now. It was almost a relief not to have to pretend I was fine. Walking towards the entrance of school, I pulled my sleeves down over my hands and wrapped my arms around myself. Just keep your head down. Not long until school is over for six weeks.

The bell rang, signalling the start of the school day just as I got inside the old red brick building. My form room was at the end of a corridor that seemed to stretch on for miles. I walked quickly to avoid being caught up with the people still loitering around. Taking my usual seat next to Hannah, I rested my arms on the desk.

Mornings were the hardest as there was still so much of the day to get through. Hannah smiled at me, and I returned the gesture. We weren’t necessarily friends, but she was the closest thing I had in school. She didn’t judge or treat me any differently. I just didn’t think she knew how to act around me most of the time. I liked her for trying though.

“School sucks,” she grumbled, tucking her dark black behind her ears. Completely agreeing with you, I thought glumly.

“Oakley, what did you do last night?” One of the boys shouted from the back of the classroom. I recognised his voice as Luke Davis, one of the biggest idiots of the school

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