Evie Viktor was somewhere between dream and reality when she heard her name being called. She jolted upright and knocked her elbow on the corner of the desk, blushing furiously.

Mrs Zilber came into focus. Ah, that’s why the entire class was focused silently on the doorway. It was the headteacher, not Miss Rose, who had called her name.

The headteacher narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips.

“As I was saying Evie, before I so… rudely aroused you, is that Atara will sit in the place next to you. It seems to be the only vacant spot in the classroom… I trust the entire class will make her feel very comfortable for her duration in this school, and I want you to all be understanding of Atara’s specific… needs.”

Mrs Zilber let the last word hang in the air and passed her gaze on every girl’s face, missing out Evie. The classroom started buzzing as soon as she stepped into the corridor, whispers quickly turning into murmurs and chatters. Evie looked down, letting her hair fall over her face. Why did her classmates look so enthralled and uncomfortable at the same time? She wished she hadn’t dozed off in the September sun, she must have missed something important.

Evie blinked. A drawing covered a double page of her English Language book, a sweet little boy with a light fringe and wide grin. When had she drawn this? Evie snuck a hasty glance at the girl on her left and ripped the page out.

That was when she noticed the tall, bright-eyed girl walking towards her. Evie immediately looked down again and concentrated on shredding the paper she was holding into hundreds of pieces. Her classmates may be excited to have a new girl for the first time in their high school experience, but she certainly wasn’t. If anything, it made the first day back even more unpleasant.

And the girl would sit next to her! Evie was always alone. Every single year. But now they were sixteen girls in the class, and this Atara was going to be right next to her! The thought made Evie’s palms sweaty, and she kept her eyes fixated on her English book, hardly daring to breathe.

What would Atara say to her? What would Evie say back? What if this new girl needed help with something, was Evie supposed to the one to offer a hand?

“So pitiful…”

Evie froze. Had she imagined Chavi had just said that aloud?

“Can you believe she’s never been to high school? She won’t cope…”

What was going on?

“I like her schoolbag, though…”

“Mrs Zilber said ‘her duration in this school’… I reckon she won’t last long…”

Shiffy, now?

Miss Rose made no effort to quieten the discussion. Had the teacher left the room? Evie snuck a peek at the front and spotted their teacher debating the pronunciation of data with Dina Leah. True, the previous year 10 said the teacher rarely disciplined, but Evie felt she was missing something. The comments were now flowing fast and furious and most girls didn’t bother to lower their voices.

“You know what I say?” A girl who sat right in front of Evie leaned back and passed a casual hand through her sleek hair. A few girls fell silent and glanced her way, something that happened often with Shiffy. “I don’t see why the school accepted Atara. I certainly wouldn’t have.”

Evie gasped the same way she would a week later when hearing of the Hilton hotel bombing, and was relieved to see that she wasn’t the only one. How could Chevi sit there and nod her silly head as if she was listening to Albert Einstein?

Something was very wrong here. How could these girls just talk about Atara as if she couldn’t hear? What a way to welcome her to the school! Not that Evie was going to say anything. Ha.

But she couldn’t ignore her new neighbour forever. Evie pulled a few strands of hair over her eyes and slowly turned. Atara was… beaming.

And then Evie saw something which immediately made her hands sweaty as they had been dunked in water. Atara was passing… a note? That was something that friends did, and everyone was staring and why couldn’t the girl just talk? Couldn’t she see what kind of teacher Miss Rose was?

Okay, she would play the game today. Evie attempted a friendly smile and cautiously took the note. She scanned the untidy scrawl and knew she would never feel the same again.

‘Hi there! I noticed you were in la-la-land when Mrs whatsername introduced me – so here goes. I’m Atara and yeah I’ve never been to a high school before! Are all lessons as chilled as this? Coz if yes, I can totally get used to this school thing. Don’t waste your time trying to talk to me – I’m deaf.’

Wow. That’s a great beginning. (I got to the end and now I’m sitting here thinking “Wait. What happens next?”) :+1::slightly_smiling_face:

Nice intro …
You convey Evie’s character quickly and then leave us with an intriguing ‘what happens next’ …
Have you written a deaf character before? Do you know a deaf person?
I have a few deaf characters in my current wip too …

I really relate to the character of Evie – her dreaminess and distractedness really come through and remind me of how I was in classes!

Evie gasped the same way she would a week later when hearing of the Hilton hotel bombing,

This is the only line that didn’t quite work for me; it disconnected me from the narrative and took me out of the moment and had me wondering, “Hmm, what does that mean”? I think you could convey that she is surprised or shocked without mentioning some future event that doesn’t have context yet.

I was definitely left curious about the character Atara and how this relationship with Evie was going to develop!