I grumble as I get out of bed. My movements are mechanical, as I get dressed. I head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My emotionless reflection looks back at me as I do so. People always tell me to smile more. But I don’t see a point in smiling. Or frowning, in fact. It’s all a waste of energy anyways.
I take the bus to school. It’s been three months since I’ve become a high school freshman. I don’t talk to anyone; I’m not good at talking. No one talks to me, either. Not anymore. Some of them tried in the beginning, but gradually they all stopped.
I sit down for my first period class.
“Hey, Robert,” the girl sitting in front of me turns around and smiles at me. “How’s it going?”
I stay silent. I look away, hoping she turns back around. She doesn’t. She never does.
“Looks like you’re having a great day,” she says. From my peripheral vision I can see her smile extend. “I’m having a great day too. This morning, I finally got my dog to do this awesome trick. You see…”
She rambles on. Always cheerful. Always telling me things about her life. Even though I never say anything back. She must be crazy. Mentally unstable. That’s the logical conclusion I’ve reached. I wish she would stop. But you can’t reason with a mentally unstable person. And so I sit there and despite my best attempts to mentally drown her out, her words make their way into my ears. I wish she would stop.
She’s told me so many things. Guys she has crushes on, teachers she hates, her summer trip to Florida. Did you know Florida is the largest producer of citrus fruits in the United States?
“Alright class! We’re going to start chapter four today…” I sigh with relief as my teacher begins the lesson, and Aria turns back around. As the lesson continues on, I slowly drift into my comfort zone; the teacher writes notes on the whiteboard. I copy them down. Mechanical. No thinking required. No effort involved.
The class bell rings. I put my notebook away, and trudge to the next class. Aria isn’t in this class. She isn’t in any of my other classes. I close my eyes. I can relax now. Nobody disturbs me. Even the teachers have long given up on getting me to participate; I guess they leave me alone because I get good grades anyways.
If I could choose to be reborn, I’d choose to be reborn as a tree. Still. Silent. Peaceful.
The next day I come back into school. If I had a choice I’d stay in bed all day. But school is mandatory.
Aria smiles at me as I sit down. Her mouth opens and moves.
Repeat. Days. Weeks.
I wish she would stop.
“You know, this really cool thing happened the other day…”
She needs to stop.
“Ugh, I just had a terrible experience at this restaurant…”
I need to stop her.
“You know, if you think about it…”
I’m going to stop her.
After the school day ends I wait by the school entrance, watching the crowd of children make their way home. Finally, I spot her. Silently, I follow her.
She walks one block.
I make sure to stay at least half a block behind her.
Three blocks. She makes a right. I have to rush to the corner to make sure I don’t lose sight of her. One block. She makes a left. One block. Two blocks. She stands in front of a brick red house. Her hands rummage through her purse and she pulls out her keys; most likely nobody else is home. I carefully look around me; the coast is clear.
She inserts the key into the lock and the door opens.
I quickly rush up behind her. I’m already prepared with my duct tape, which goes around her mouth before she has a chance to scream. I grab her and push her inside her house. I push her down to the floor, and climb on top of her. My weight prevents her from moving, but she struggles nonetheless. She’s trying to scream. But the tape holds.
Her hands turn into fists. But I’m stronger than her and I have my rope ready. I take two punches to the face before I manage to tie her hands up. Next are her legs. Soon, she’s immovable. I get off of her, my breaths heavy.
She looks at me for the first time. Her eyes bulge open. Shock.
I take off my backpack, and pull out a knife. My hands tremble as I do so.
I move towards her.
Suddenly, a loud bang rings through the air. I stop in my steps. My chest feels hot. I look down and see blood.
I look up again. It’s her dad. He’s holding a gun.
Words come out of my mouth for the first time in months. My voice sounds foreign, like a stranger’s voice. “I just wanted her to stop,” I croak.
His eyes are manic. He pulls the trigger again.
I collapse to the floor. Pain overwhelms me.
I close my eyes, as tears start filling them. “I just wanted her to stop…”
The pain gradually ebbs away. The tears stop.
I don’t feel pain anymore. I don’t feel anything more. I’m like a tree. Still. Silent.