He Only Screams

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He does not speak, he only screams
He screams when he wants something. Banging the table, he shouts so that all the world can hear. They are shrieks, piercing and terrifying.
His mother laughs. "That's only Leo," she says. Every time he screams, she gives him food. I am surprised he is not obese by now.
His walk is funny, too, off-kilter and slightly hunched. He sits down, always frowning, never smiling.
When he sees me, he gives me an angry look. His mother tells him to be nice. He hits his nose, which in their sign language means, shut up, I don't care what you say. Not really. I think it really means thank you.

He fell in love with a girl once, I am told. Her name was Taliana. She was as alone as he was, but in her case, it was by choice. She chose to be alone.
He loved her from the moment he saw her. He was fifteen, and he screamed at the top of his lungs. She was scared, and she ran from him. He screamed louder, crying and stomping his foot angrily. His mother told him to be quiet. He hit his nose.
The next day, though, when he saw Taliana, he did not scream. He was not stupid, this boy. He was very smart.
He began to grab her, then, only her arm, as if he wanted her to come with him. Now it was her turn to scream.
"That's only Leo," his mother said, and she apologized to the girl. Taliana looked at him. He was really very handsome.

He grabbed her the next day he saw her, too. She went to the park he liked to be at. She was always listening to heavy metal music. Her favorite band was Slip Knot.
Taliana fought the urge to shout for help. Instead, she was patient. "I am Taliana." She told him.
He screamed.
His mother apologized to all the people in the park. "Sorry about Leo. He's autistic." She explained. He didn't know what autistic meant, but he knew he was. It seemed like an insult, because everyone turned away. Taliana did too.
But then she looked back.

Over the next few weeks, they became friends, the first and only friend he had ever had. Everyday, Taliana would talk to him. "I am Taliana," she would always began. He knew his name, and his mother's, and his father's and older brother's. He understood names.
At first, his mother did not like it. But soon, she grew accustomed to the girl, another outcast, friends with her son. He would still scream and grab, but when people asked, Taliana would cut his mother off.
"That's my friend Leo. He sees things differently, like me."
He would hit is nose. With Taliana, it meant thank you.

One day, Taliana's parents heard that Taliana had been hanging out with the autistic boy. They called his mother, and they yelled. His mother yelled too, but at her son. He and Taliana both cried and screamed as they were separated from each other. Taliana screamed louder.
He screamed for the rest of the week.

A year later, he saw Taliana again. She saw him too. "Leo!" She said. He remembered her perfectly. He had a wonderful memory. "I am Taliana." She knew he remembered her, but Taliana said it because it was their ritual.
Her father was walking with her. He pulled her away. Leo screamed loud, loud, loud! Taliana was silent, in too much pain to cry. She was hurting inside. Taliana loved Leo, too.
At last, he finished screaming. "Taliana!" He cried. I am told it was his first word.





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