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Eyes. Her eyes, his eyes, their eyes. But does anyone notice Charlottes eyes? No, probably not.
Charlotte stares at the ground, trying to think of nothing other than her breathing and moving forward; step inhale, step exhale. So far so good.
“No need to slow everybody up,” a boy mumbles to Charlotte, stepping on her boot as he walks by.
Charlotte stops for a moment and watches the boy hurry into the park. She begins her routine again--step inhale, step exhale. Charlotte approaches her building and buzzes her apartment.
Muffled sounds of movement and screams of terror and her dad attempting to quiet her mother stream into Charlotte’s ears. Charlotte closes her eyes and wraps her scarf tighter around her neck.
“I’m going to the park,” Charlotte whispers into the microphone. The only reply is of her father’s voice slurring curse words irrelevant to what Charlotte had said. Charlotte squeezes her eyes tight a little harder and cringes instinctually as the shattering of what sounds like millions of glass bottles ring through her ears. She begins her routine again and tears away from her mother’s crying and screaming, walking toward the park.
Step inhale, step exhale.
The streets become a blur as she walks along. The blank and uninterested glances she receives from people she passes by all blend into one emotionless stare. The world appears inexplicably gray.
Charlotte finally reaches the park and decides to sit down on a bench. She watches as the girls from her school point at her and laugh about the “stupid girl who doesn’t talk.” Charlotte turns away from them and wipes a tear off her rosy cheek. She turns her head the opposite way, and notices one of the girls, Olivia, walking over to her. Olivia sits down next to Charlotte and smiles warmly at her. Olivia hadn’t been laughing at her, but her best friends were the girls who had been. No words are exchanged for several minutes.
This is not the first time Olivia has come to sit with Charlotte, to keep her company. This is, however, the first time that she clears her throat, takes Charlotte’s hand in hers, looks into her eyes, and whispers, “Tell me, Charlotte--tell me what goes on at home. Tell me what goes on behind those sad eyes of yours.”
Charlotte, after a minute, turns away from Olivia, then looks back at her. She opens her mouth to speak, to make the whole world listen. She wants to, desperately--but no words come out.
Olivia glances back longingly at her friends laughing and playing in the grass. She sighs quietly, gives Charlotte a “sorry” look to let her know her time is up, let’s go of Charlotte’s hand softly, and walks away.