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Speak

He grimaced as he began to gather his notebooks to leave the classroom. Other children were still filing out of the room, whispering secrets and sharing stories with one another. He glanced around at the empty chairs, and with a sigh realized that yet again, nobody had waited to walk with him. He sighed again when it occurred to him that he should be used to this daily routine; the bruises on his limbs might as well have been red, like open targets, not purple. Instead of limping through the hallways, he chose to remain seated.

The teacher was sitting at her desk, reading a book about places that she wished she could visit; anywhere was better than here. The twenty three year old woman had not yet realized that he was still sitting in the same position he had been in throughout her entire lecture on the Civil War. He didn’t move, not because he did not want to, but because he couldn’t. The physical pain he constantly endured had simply become too much, and he had finally reached his breaking point.

Minutes dragged on, and as she glanced up at the clock, she finally noticed the eleven year old in the back corner. “Mason,” she exclaimed, “Why, you just about gave me a heart attack!” Her southern accent and rosy complexion indicated that her own history lay deep in the heart of southwestern America. Texas, probably.

Mason did not respond, he just continued to sit at his seat, staring at his black and white composition notebook with a grim face. It had been ages since he had truly spoken to anyone, except for his father, of course. If he did not speak to his father, then he would have to be taught an entirely different lesson on the Civil War. But this war was different. It was modern, where instead of brothers fighting brothers, and a country retaliating against itself, it told the story of a father lashing out against a son, never with any explanation as to why. The casualties were not counted in human lives, but instead in tears, scrapes, cuts, bruises, black eyes, and sleepless nights. They were counted in failed tests, lost friends, and the loss of imagination and hope in a young boy’s eyes.


“Mason, sweetie, where are you supposed to be right now?”, Ms. Robinson asked with a curious frown. He looked up, his eyes screaming, but again saying nothing. She stood to cross the room. “Now Mason, I understand you prefer not speak, but I need to know where you’re supposed to be so that I can at least telephone the teacher. We wouldn’t want them to think you’re missing, now, would we?”.

“No.” He muttered. Startled because he had finally spoken, she opened her mouth to ask more questions. As she did, though, her eyes landed on his latest wound. She had heard the students whisper, but with a hundred students to keep watch over, it easily slipped her mind. She inhaled deeply, eyes closed, assessing the situation. Thousands of dollars spent on education and courses about child abuse could never prepare anyone for such a task. Each word not spoken was building up in her veins, about to burst at any moment.

“Sweetie, is there anything else you want to talk about? I can excuse you from this class period, so don’t worry, you won’t get into trouble. You can tell me anything. I like secrets.” Her simplistic approach made her want to cry. This boy was wise beyond his years, and had more secrets than could told in twenty minutes. His continuous lack of response confirmed her worst fears. “That scrape looks pretty nasty. What happened, did you fall off of your bike last night?” she tried again. Still, no words came. “Why don’t we go see Nurse Leo, she always has the perfect remedy”. He sat, a statue, guarding his life.

For once in her life, Sarah Robinson was at a loss for words. Her mind was struggling to stay professional. “Stay here,” she instructed. She slowly walked out of the room, each step a mile long. As soon as she reached the stale and empty hallway, she sprinted for the principal’s office. Upon her arrival, she broke down completely, sobbing and gasping. Her incoherent sentences slurred together in a blend of shapes and sounds.

The principal, nearing age fifty seven, balding, and on the verge of retirement, watched this girl in disbelief. She had just been hired four years ago, after the sudden dismissal of a favored history teacher, who was also the father of a current student. In his eyes, it would take a decade before she could live up to the legacy of old Joe Traft, and here she stood, an emotional wreck. He had the worst luck with history teachers clearly. After reports of sexual harassment and death threats to a thirteen year old, Alexander McClouden, principal, had to release Mr. Traft. Soon after his dismissal, Traft was locked up, and the boy was left under the care of a foster family.

The young woman continued to ramble, and he finally started to catch on. Student... hurt... abuse... won’t speak... Mason... He knew that name. Mason. Mason. Mason... he just couldn’t place it. “Stop it this instant. Your blubbering isn’t helping anything. What has happened?” he barked.

She took a moment to attempt to contain herself. Struggling, she began to repeat everything she knew. He nodded along with the story, remaining silent. When she concluded, he said, “Well, the first thing to do is to send this boy to the nurse. From there I will contact authorities. We can not assume that he was abused if he has not claimed it, but we can have counselors speak to him and figure this out.” He attempted to be kind, but exhaustion was wearing him down, and he just didn’t have the same energy to fight the same problems he used to take by storm.
They hurried back to the classroom, and to their horror, Mason was missing. Ms. Robinson cried out in despair. Without words, they searched the room. With no luck, they expanded their search party to the building. McClouden ordered a lockdown and called the police department. Upon their arrival, they asked him the child’s name, and he realized that in the midst of the frantic searching, he had forgotten to ask Sarah his last name.
“Traft”, she whispered as she came up behind the officer. Horrified, she repeated, “Traft”.
“You mean Joe?”, the officer asked, puzzled. “He just got off parole a year ago. Why are you bringing this up ma’am?”.

“No..” her voice trailed. “Mason Traft. His son. Why didn’t I see this?”, she asked nobody in particular. It suddenly made sense. Joe Traft had gone crazy. People in town even said he murdered his own wife after she gave birth to Mason, but he was never caught. According to the town’s “legend”, he suffocated her, and she was already dying of lung cancer, so if he threatened that girl four years ago, it wouldn’t surprise them. Sarah’s stomach was sinking, her eyes felt heavy, and her feet were as light as the air swelling inside of her head.
She ran as fast as she possibly could run, through the trees and shrubs, and into the corn fields that surrounded this small rural town. In the distance, she could see a dark figure. She allowed herself to slow down, keeping up at a brisk walking pace. The closer she came to this figure, the clearer the figure became. It was a man in dark jeans and a black shirt, with a black hat and severe sunburn. Of course, it was Traft. And, to her absolute shock and disgust, Mason lay in a bloody heap next to him. She could have fainted, but she bit her lip, drawing blood, and continued towards him.


“Mr. Traft. My name is Sarah. I can help you. Come with me. We can work this out.”, she said, doing everything possible not to look at the little boy, who she now concluded dead, on the muddy ground. How she was so rational, she did not know. She continued to fight her instincts to run screaming. The man did not speak, he just stared at her through slanted, medicated eyes.

The next few moments where a whirlwind for Sarah. Before she could react, he flew at her with a hammer. She felt him strike her head, and her vision started to become cloudy. For a moment, she thought she was flying, but quickly realized that she was actually falling. She hit the Earth’s floor with a thud. After another moment, she again felt a blow to her head, and she stopped feeling any type of pain.

In her final moments, her thoughts continued to wander back to the boy in her classroom today. His fear, his lack of words. She now understood. It was the fear of the unknown. And the source of fear was the man whom he was supposed to know best. Robinson had only encountered this man for a matter of minutes, and she had never felt a greater fear in her life.

Her vision continued to fade, and her thoughts slowed. It was a calm and peaceful feeling, and every question she had ever wondered had finally come to a conclusion. She was at rest. Her eyes finally came to a soft close, and her last sight was the boy with no words to speak, but a story unlike one she had ever heard.



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XxSword_ArtxXThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 8:41 pm:
D; thats sad. that crazy old man killed his own wife and son! shame on him! ootwa!!!!!
 
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