Chapter One--Rusty Scissors

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I've noticed that it has become conformity to be an individual.  So many nurses have drilled into my head that my inability to speak makes me special, that it's a blessing no matter what everyone else screams back.  I never got that blessing of being a teenager where I was able to form everyone's opinion of me for them--where I sat in my bedroom at night just whispering sentences that I wanted to be branded to my skin.  I read a book on that once, where a girl said something horrible so she did nothing but whisper nice phrases so it would look like she was perfect.

I'm sort of cursed into actually being myself.  I notice it as stranger's eyes scour my body, surprised that they can't find last night's conversation on my forearm.  For a split second, I almost forget that I'm The Anomaly--the weird kid destined to be a brain dead and drooling creature in the corner.  But still, I'm sitting on a train by myself, mulling over the infamous mainstreamed high school.  My fingers absentmindedly fingerspell words as I'm thinking, quick motions almost as natural as breathing.   The woman across the aisle from me pulls her burgundy-colored mouth into a sour frown, clutching her purse tighter to her protruding torso when she notices I'm using American Sign Language.  They fear it.  Who wouldn't be terrified of something that doesn't create words?  It would be absolutely ludicrous.  

My phone vibrates in a fit of rage, announcing a message from Nancy, who's asking how things are going.  Even though I'm no longer her problem, she's still doting.  Even though she should be focusing on her other patients instead of me.  Even though she took the time to contact me, I find myself pulling further away from the screaming child next to me.  Nancy can wait.  

The aroma of a diaper just filled swims in to my nose right as I flick my phone back on.  There she is, right on my battered screen, words scratched all over her like she's a walking and slightly morbid dictionary.  The lump in my throat that used to be constant has thinned out more and more as the miles increase between me and the asylum.  Josephine has turned into a figment of my imagination to the point where I'm not sure she even existed.  It's been a few months with nothing but illegal updates from Nancy: they're trying to work on her frontal lobe today; she's going in for cosmetic surgery to try to fix her facial scars; she's still mute.  She still has it.  We're all just deaf, mute, insane, criminal... Throw any negative noun out there and I'm sure it will be pinned on us.

I waste the next few hours reading stiff paperbacks I bought in one of the train stations.  That was the first time I had exchanged money with anyone; passing the crisp, brand new dollar bills to a man's grabbing hand was both terrifying and exhilarating.  All he cared about was that I didn't try to mug him.  I saw him counting his packs of gum after I left.

When the hurtling train slows to a stop,  I'm not sure what to look for.  My foster family's supposedly going to be waiting, but after living where I did, my faith in punctuality and dependence is very thin.  I take it that this is my stop when hordes of people rise, pushing toward the doors like a colossal school of fish.  I tug on the straps of my backpack, trying to compact my arms enough so I can move forward without being shoved back.  The stench of trash is practically tangible in the air, but I can't stifle the cloud of excitement surrounding my head.  I haven't left the asylum since that dumb trip to the zoo for Josephine's wish.  If she got a wish, she should be dead.  But she's still there, as she says, wasting good machinery for people with a future.

I have no idea what to expect when I meet this family, or what they've heard about me. They're a family and they're letting me intrude.  It never made sense to me that other people wanted to make room for me after my own parents didn't.  After it was proven that my mom was dead and that I wasn't, in fact, completely insane, they couldn't just keep me there.  I just turned seventeen and I had taught myself every bit of information about the world that I know.  It was about time that they actually forced me to go to school and live in society.  Society.  The dirty word that everyone curses to the point where I don't know what it means. 

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