Prologue

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Silence is lethal.

It gives us a chill and echoes through our bodies in perfectly horrible situations. Silence is the scariest of sounds because it is the absence of sound. It is what we hear when we are alone; when there is no one for us to be with. Noisily, we try to avoid it. We fill our lives with meaningless noises just to break the silence.

But what if you stay quiet? Does that make you different? Remaining speechless is something we barely bring off. We constantly give tongue to thoughts filling in a yawning void. We talk drivel that no one cares about, yet we feel heard because insignificant words were simply vocalised. Those who remain silent, do it as a choice. They choose to sweep their opinions under the table and to never have them be heard.

My name is Tacey and I am silent.

It has been 16 years since I last spoke. 16 years since I last uttered a single word. I am unable to speak. I am unable to share my thoughts even if I chose to do so.

My name is Tacey, Tacey Stiles and I am mute.

I was born normal, like every other little kid I made noise from the moment I left my mother's womb, whether that may be screaming, crying or just incomprehensible babble. I was average, learned to walk perfectly on time. Then my life fundamentally changed.

I have been told this story many times before. It was a sunny, beautiful autumn day. I was out on our playset while my mother was on the porch keeping an eye on me and reading her book. She looked away for a split second and I fell 9 feet from where the slide was set. When she reached me, I was completely unconscious and paralysed. That's when they took me to the hospital and discovered that I had managed to damage the Broca's area. It is a region in the frontal lobe of the dominant hemisphere (usually the left) of the hominid brain with functions linked to speech production.

So when I awoke, I opened my mouth to say something but not a single sound came out.

And with that, my family broke.

From that moment on I had to relearn how to communicate. I learned sign language but I have never liked to use it. People have always stared at me when I was in public.

My mother became overprotective and paranoid.

My father shut my mother out for years until he couldn't take it anymore and left my mum for his long-time mistress.

My older sister became bitter and angry at me because I was getting all the attention so when she turned 18 she left as well.

My single fall altered the course of not only my life but my entire family's lives.

We haven't been the same for 16 years. We haven't even been a family since then.

I thought that life would remain that way for the rest of time; changed from my early years, but still the same.

The same daily struggles to be normal and communicate.

The same people staring at me, the same old town. Guess I was wrong.

My mother decided we need a change of scenery and I was forcibly removed from school and shipped halfway across the country to start a new school in a new town.

But this was only the beginning of the changes I would experience.

My life was forever changed once more when I met a boy who was just as misunderstood as I was.

My life was forever changed when I met him, William Cadman.

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