Chapter 2

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History was my fifth class before lunch, and the only class that didn't compare like the other ones I attended. I didn't exactly like that lunch was so late, but afterwards there were two free periods and then we could leave, so I was satisfied with it.

Every other class went the same. I would stroll to the back of the room, my eyes pleading for nobody to talk to me because once someone did, they'd eventually realize I was choosing to be this way. Anxiety wrapped around me and prevented me from any confidence.

I was afraid somebody would ask why. Sometimes I even ask myself why.

And honestly?

The main reason is because of my mother; because I accidentally killed her and now I have to live with the guilt pressing on my shoulders like a heavy backpack with a large amount of text books shoved into it.

But would she want me to be this way? To not talk? No. She definitely wouldn't want me to, but I did. I didn't deserve a freedom of speech, or even a life, hence the reason for my suicide attempts.

I arrived late to history class. It was all the way south of the building at the end, while the class I was at before was on the east side on a different floor. I flung myself into the classroom at the last minute, the bell echoing as I chose the only seat left, right smack in the front.

The teacher, a man with brown curly hair, instantly flooded into my vision. I remembered seeing his reflection in the glass elevator. He didn't seem to recognize me or anything, it was just a quick glance at my lateness and that was it. His eyes scanned the classroom, his black framed glasses at the end of his perfectly sloped nose.

I felt the heat rising to my cheeks at the possibility that he might not know I have selective mutism. What if he asks me a question? Although Mr. Garcia had said he informed the teachers, the mere thought of being publicly embarrassed was still causing an uprising in my anxiety.

"Good afternoon," he said, his eyes still scanning the students he didn't seem to be familiar with yet. "You all met me during yesterday's class, but there's a few students I happened to notice who didn't show yesterday, so let me introduce myself again."

He paused for a second, and in that tiny second, his eyes landed on me. It was a silent gesture, a sweet one. Clearly nobody noticed I wasn't here yesterday because nobody even paid me any attention, except for the guy in the seat behind me who was practically breathing in my ear. By him saying a few didn't show yesterday, he must have meant me. He must know.

He turned around and jotted his name down on the board, his handwriting a perfect slanted font.

Mr. Lee

"So anyways, as you all know, yesterday was an extremely short period because of the assembly that was held.."

He continued to speak on, my mind fluttering to different topics as I looked upon him. His voice was laced with sweetness and comfort, and it gave me the impression that he wasn't strict at all.

He had a strong build and wonderfully large hands. The black framed glasses were perched on his nose that covered his dark blue eyes, ones that should be present instead of being hidden behind glasses. But somehow, the glasses looked modern and oddly fitting on him.

I couldn't help but notice how nice he seemed. Almost every teacher I had in the previous classes were strict and had piercing gazes, but Mr. Lee didn't seem like that at all.

Mr. Lee held an aura that the other teachers simply lacked. His gaze was full of warmth that felt as if it could radiate onto you. Not only the positive way he carried himself, but he sure as hell took care of himself as well. He had a faded brown button-down coat over a tan shirt with black fitted pants, and it looked wonderful on him. I glanced up at him from my seat in complete awe.

Somehow the other students seemed to be oblivious to how wonderful Mr. Lee looked. Most of them had their heads down on their desks or perched in their hands. I was probably the only one still sitting upright, but I was too afraid to turn around and examine the rest of the class, due to the fact that I was in the front where everybody could see me. I didn't want to risk conversation.

He began to take attendance, snapping the students out of their daydream by calling their name for them to answer with a 'yes' or 'here.'

"Poppy Rose?"

Just the soft, angelic sound of him saying my name was enough for my cheeks to heat up. Not only that, but the fact that I couldn't respond was rather heart wrenching.

I slid down as much as possible in my desk, letting my hair fall into the front of my face. I put my hand up slowly. He gave me an understanding look and proceeded onto the first assignment. I allowed a wave of relief to wash over me.

When class ended, which actually ended a lot quicker than I had imagined, Mr. Lee pointed a finger at me and moved it back and forth, gesturing me to come up to him. At first I was confused as to whether or not he was pointing to me, but when everybody else began to leave and I remained in my desk, I knew it was me. The eye contact he made with me was also a clear giveaway.

I got up and shyly walked over to him.

"You don't have to hide," he said. "I know what it's like to feel isolated. Because of your position, you don't have to ever speak in class but every once in a while I will ask you questions, mainly because this is school, and in school you participate and learn." He paused for a second, eyeing my clenched fists that I hadn't realized I'd been doing.

"If I need you to answer a question so I know you're progressing, I'll simply busy the class with something else and walk over to your desk. You can write down the answer on a piece of paper, show it to me, and that'll be it. Alright?"

I nodded in response. I was too tense and too distracted by his long eyelashes to really understand what he was saying, but most of it I comprehended.

"Have a good rest of the day," he dismissed. When I stepped out of the classroom, the breath I was holding in escaped. I stood there for a minute, not caring who looked at me, and took another deep, comforting breath.

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