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The Girl Who Did Not Speak

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Photo by Naomi Honig

The Girl Who Did Not Speak had never been on a date. It wasn’t that she wasn’t pretty (everyone who met her said she looked like a reincarnated Audrey Hepburn) or interesting (she could identify over sixty different types of birds just by their calls and could list every single actor ever to portray Sherlock Holmes in a movie, play, TV show, or video game in alphabetical or chronological order, whichever you preferred). No, it wasn’t anything like that. At the end of the day, the root of her “problem,” as her mother saw it, was that she wasn’t making an effort. When a cute boy commented something sweet on The Girl Who Did Not Speak’s profile picture, the only response he’d get from her was a measly little “Like” (and that was if he was incredibly lucky). When the captain of the football team asked if he’d see her at the big game next Thursday, The Girl Who Did Not Speak would simply shrug and walk away. When the MVP of the girl’s volleyball team (her mother was really getting desperate at this point) asked for an opinion on her essay, The Girl Who Did Not Speak simply shook her head and walked away.

And so The Girl Who Did Not Speak’s mother came to the conclusion that she was going to make the effort for her daughter. But of course, she was only a mother–and a rather outdated one at that. She didn’t know how to use the google or the facebook, and she refused to stoop so low as to ask the mysterious twitter bird for assistance. She considered asking her neighbor’s son, The Man Who Was So Successful He Still Lived With His Parents At 31, but she’d found that he enjoyed her company a little too much. She loved her daughter, but she was sure that there was a way to get her a date without having to suffer through an afternoon of awkward advances. So, at her wits end, she did the only thing she could think of. She posted an ad in the school newsletter.

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Photo by Naomi Honig

The Boy Who Did Not Listen was horny, but it wasn’t his fault. He was an average teenage boy (not listening being, arguably, one of the most common traits among that demographic) and that was just what teenage boys felt. His mother knew this, she had older sons who also Did Not Listen to various degrees, after all, and they had turned out alright. Still, she was concerned about the level of her youngest son’s Not Listening. She wished she could get him a girlfriend. It was a futile hope, but she’d seen the effects a nice, sweet girl could have on a young man like her son, and at this point, she didn’t know what else to do. Now, unlike The Girl Who Did Not Speak, The Boy Who Did Not Listen had a decent number of friends, but like her, he had very few dating prospects. Not Listening does garner a varying degree of sympathy from a kindhearted individual every now and again, but it’s also a great, effortless way to piss people off, and thus far, the scales had not tipped in his favor. So when his mother, thanking the Lord that such a perfect opportunity had come along, left the newsletter on his bed, as mothers do, with a big, red, inky circle around The Girl Who Did Not Speak’s mother’s ad, he glanced over it, shrugged, and proceeded to text the number next to the picture of The Girl Who Did Not Speak’s face.

The Waiter Who Wanted to be an Actor was exhausted and frustrated after a day of failed auditions. But, like other Waiters Who Want to be Actors, he had to keep it together if for no other reason than to prove to his parents that they hadn’t wasted their money letting him go to a conservatory to study classic Spanish acting techniques instead of computer programing or something equally “useful” and soul-crushing. But this particular Waiter Who Wanted to be an Actor had a special place in his heart for teenage lovebirds, so he tried to put on a pleasant smile as he came over to the table in the corner under the sepia photo of rustic train tracks to take the young couple’s orders.

At least, he assumed they were a couple.  They were young and relatively well dressed and bashful and were seated across from each other, so it wasn’t like he had any reason to believe otherwise. But as he pulled out his little waiter’s notepad and smiled what he hoped looked like the ready-to-work smile he’d flashed every one of the nine directors he’d seen that day (or perhaps a better version of that smile, considering every one of those nine auditions had been a flop), he realized that these young lovers were feeling anything but romance. The girl was staring at the boy, and the boy was staring out the window, his hand on his crotch. When The Waiter Who Wanted to be an Actor asked what they wanted, the herpes under eye girl pointed to the first item on the menu, Asian Chicken Soup. The boy stared right ahead like he hadn’t even heard.

At the end of the night, The Girl Who Did Not Speak and The Boy Who Did Not Listen parted ways, having not exchanged any form of contact, physical or otherwise, in the fifty seven minutes since they’d both arrived at the restaurant. Which was a shame, really, because they both had an abundance of topics they could have discussed. They could have, for example, quoted the only season of Awake ever to be aired, which they both had illegally downloaded on their outdated Dell laptops. Or they could have discussed how both of them had refused to read Harry Potter until they were in ninth grade for no other reason than to be annoying to no one in particular. And they could have chewed over how both of them longed to move far away and go to a huge out-of-state college with a thriving sports team that everyone got overly enthusiastic about, where they could go to 1950s-themed diners before the big game and eat a burger with only mushrooms and pickles on it. A magical place where no one would know them as The Girl Who Did Not Speak and The Boy Who Did Not Listen, only as The Girl Who Knew A Little Too Much About Sherlock Holmes and The Boy Who Really Was A Nice Guy Once the Hormones Settled Down. Or better yet, just Boy and Girl. No “The.” No singular identifying characteristic. Nothing.

All this they could have learned about each other, if only someone had thought to pick up a pen.