Because of You

Chapter 1

I sat in front of the principal's office, waiting. I was really scared when my name was called over the loudspeaker in class and—like immature third graders as opposed to seniors in High School—the whole class let out a collective, "Oohh," as I made my way down the aisle and out the classroom door. I could not imagine what I could have done that would be so bad the principal would want me. I tried my best not to get in trouble, and to follow the Bible at all times. Still, anyone gets that jolt in their stomach when they're called out.

"Peyton," Ms. Wright, the principal, said. "You can come in now." She held open the door and I timidly walked in.

I sat down in one of the leather chairs in front of her desk. Jesus, help me, I prayed silently, as more of a thought than a prayer, albeit I didn't really know what exactly I would need help with anyway.

Ms. Wright leaned forward so she could look at me better, and her chair made a squeaking noise as she did so. She placed her hands on the desk and folded them. "Peyton… you're normally a really good student, and a sweet girl," she started.

Here we go, I thought. I didn't want to say anything just yet.

"So I think you'll be the perfect person for the task I'm going to give you. That is, if you even agree. It'll even count towards your community service."

"Okay," I said. "What's the 'task'?"

She sighed a little. "I hear you know sign language. Is that true?"

"I know some sign language, sure," I replied.

I had to. I lived with my grandmother, and after her stroke last year, she couldn't speak properly and couldn't really write things down since her brain didn't really connect words to paper with her hands, and, since she had learned sign language a while ago and saw that as the only way to communicate with me, I took the liberty of signing myself up for some classes so I could learn; I now knew the basics and then some, enough to where I could have a rapid conversation with her using my hands.

"I don't know if the student body is ready for this, but… we just had a spot open, and the next student in line that enrolled is… well, special needs, I guess you could say. I said, 'Our school has no way to fit her needs'," she said. She looked nervous about this whole situation, about asking me this favor of sorts, her eyes flitting about the room. "But then I remembered hearing you knew how to sign and, well, I've put her in all your classes, and it might take away from your learning, but I was hoping you would translate for her. I thought it might be simpler than her translator coming up here and really distracting all the students. Of course, we'll only try it for two weeks or so, and if your grades drop then we'll get her professional translator up here. Obviously I'd have to talk to your parents first and let them know what's going on if you say yes…" she trailed off.

I was shocked the school hadn't found out about my parents yet. Besides the fact I was the only one fit to take care of my grandmother without getting her one of those Care Givers (which I refused to get for her. Who knew what those people would do, and how well they would really treat her?) However, no one ever asked about my parents, so I never said anything. There were rumors swirling around the school—stuff like "her parents abandoned her"—mostly due to the fact that my grandmother and I went to the same church as Muffy Sparks—the most "popular" girl in school—and her family—who just go to church really for their rep, and even then they do not show up every Sunday—and neither of my parents showed up at church or even around anywhere anymore. I never denied or confirmed any of them though; I simply ignored anything everyone said; obviously the school administration never paid them any mind.

"Oh, um, my parents would have no problem with it," I said; they really wouldn't, because they never cared about things like that. My grandmother would be thrilled though. "But, um, my grandmother is really who you'd need to talk to, and she can't really talk… um, I could translate though," I said tentatively. I realized I was saying 'um' a lot. "And I think that's a good idea, so I'll say yes."

"All right," she replied. "Well, we'll arrange for a meeting then." I now realized she said 'well' a lot, just as I said 'um' many times. "Now," Ms. Wright continued as she grabbed a post-it note off her desk and a pen out of a cup. She scrawled something down then handed it to me, "I'd like for you to meet with Rachel after school, if you have time. This is her address. She starts school next Monday. You'd also show her the ropes, as you say. Since she's in all of your classes it will be easier for you to direct her places."

I nodded, knowing the conversation was over, and stood up, picking my bag up off the ground and slinging it over my shoulder. I really didn't feel like saying anything else, but I said, "I'll, um, I will go see her after school," and then I left.


I got a little lost on the way to Rachel's house. I didn't really blame myself though; all I had was an address with no directions, and when I stopped at a gas station and asked it was in a part of town I had no knowledge of.

I had been praying about this, asking God if this was okay for me to do. I didn't think He would have any problem with it though, so long as I was helping someone in need and it was the right thing. Then again, there was the whole issue of grades possibly going down because of this. Nevertheless, I knew if they did that would be His answer that I should stop.

I finally found what I assumed was the right place, and when I pulled into the drive I let myself look around as I had not before, noticing that this was a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood. However, this was the only one-story; all the rest were two-story, and I wondered why this was.

I took a deep breath, got out of my car—I was seventeen now, but I had gotten my hardship license at fifteen (when I moved in with my grandmother) because even though my grandma's stroke only happened last year, she had never been in good health and always needed a walker—and walked slowly up to the front door. It had a window on it that you could not really see through because there was an intricate floral design that was white covering most of it. I rang the doorbell and waited.

After about two minutes, the door opened, and a sweet looking lady opened the door. She's the kind of lady everyone wants for their mother, I thought at first glance. She was maybe thirty-something, with soft gray eyes and wrinkles that someone her age should not have had, but obviously something had weathered her and also put gray streaks in her hair.

"Hi, I'm—"

"Peyton," she interrupted, not unkindly, and smiled at me. "You must be here to see Rachel. Ms. Wright called," she explained.

I did not say anything; I just followed her into the house which was more beautiful on the inside than the outside. I wondered how much they spent on a decorator.

"Oh, how rude of me," she said suddenly, stopping in the middle of the hallway we were in. "I'm Rebecca Ashford."

"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Ashford," I replied, not thinking she was rude at all.

She smiled at me again, little crinkles on the edges of her mouth. "Rachel's in her room," she said, and opened a door that we were standing in front of. "As I'm sure Ms. Wright told you, she's deaf so… she won't be able to hear us come in. I'll introduce you then leave you to it. She was born deaf," she explained, as if she read my thoughts and knew I was wondering about that. "But she doesn't really see it as an impairment. Follow me."

We walked into the room, which was fairly girly—well, what had I expected? I guess I was judging (which I had resolved not to seeing as I had been judged all my life) but just because she was deaf did not mean she was not a normal teenage girl—with posters on the wall of pop stars, these bands called One Direction and Big Time Rush, which I actually kind of liked—how does she listen to music? I wondered, but then I realized it was probably just the hype surrounding them; that was why she had them on the wall—and movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Chronicles of Narnia—well, at least we had a conversation starter; Narnia was my favorite.

I looked around again, having not seen Rachel the first time. And then—I saw a chair, as in a wheelchair, seated in front of the large bay window. Mrs. Ashford walked up to the window while I stayed hesitantly in the doorway. She moved to the side of the window, to where I was sure Rachel could see her. Rachel, I saw her sign with her hands, Peyton's here. Her hands moved jerkily, not at all fluid like mine or my grandmother's, who had been signing way longer than me; I still messed up some, but Grandma never did.

I could not see Rachel's reply, if she did reply, but then there was a little whirring noise from the electric wheelchair and, staying put in the same place, it turned around so I was face to face with the girl sitting in it.

Hello, she signed.
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Hey guys! This was my entry for Book Chapter years ago for AG Fine Arts and got Superior with Invitation--aka made it to Nationals! Sadly there was a misunderstanding and it didn't get entered at Nationals so I can't say if it would have placed :( Anyway, hopefully I'll finish it and get it published sometime! Hope you enjoy :)