Read week 1 and week 2.

Dear Elyen,
I’m sorry my reply is late! I was waiting to see if something interesting would FINALLY happen, but the truth is Philly is boring without you. Nothing happens.
So, not to be snarky or anything, but you didn’t tell me anything before you left. Are you not going back to school? You’re just going to be working for your Aunt Beth? I guess it’s lucky you at least have family out there. And you never know – maybe you ended up exactly where you needed to be and you’ll meet the love of your life all the way out there in the boonies. Of course I love you no matter what happens, and you know if I could afford to help you I would.
I honestly don’t know what to tell you from here. I think Tia and Michael are finally seriously broken up. She and her new boyfriend are constantly walking around the campus holding hands and I know it’s only a matter of time until someone walks in on them in the locker rooms or they hang a sock on the door and someone will talk. Oh, and get this – he was here visiting his cousins and working as a lifeguard over the summer – that’s how they met, right? Well, anyways, he decided to stay, just because he wanted to stay with her. Tia broke up with Michael for a guy that thinks it’s serious enough that it’s worth moving across the country (he’s from Virginia) just to be near her during the year. I’d say Michael and Tia are finally officially “officially over.”
I guess the biggest news is the new kid. Everyone’s talking about him. I was apparently the first to meet him so I’ve been under fire almost constantly since. Everyone wants to know everything about him – and the worst bit? He’s not talking. So guess who gets to talk Yeah. Me.
It was middle of the day a few days after school started. I got an email from Mrs. Kindan (my advisor, remember?) asking me to visit her office. I was worried that I was in trouble and spent the entire day trying to think of what I might have done. I was coming up with zero. I’d been to all my classes and they were all ones that I needed – I wasn’t waitlisted for anything either. By the time I got there, I was extremely worried.
I walked in and the first thing I noticed was a boy that I didn’t know. He was kinda tall with shaggy dark brown hair. He stood slouching sullenly against the desk. He gave off the air of a teenage boy that always has headphones and a sweatshirt on. Instead he was wearing a nice button-down-the-front shirt, untucked from his faux-designer jeans. Mrs. Kindan was standing with her back to me as I entered, but turned when the door shut heavily behind me.
“Ah, Rachel. So glad you could join us.” I just smiled, a little wary. I’d never seen this guy before, which meant he had to be new. Our class is just too tiny for him to have been there without me noticing. Mrs. Kindan must have sensed my reticence because her phony smile slipped a little before she could stop it.
“Rachel, this is Drew Rothe. He’s just moved here from NYC. He’s a junior, like you,” she told me in that over-friendly tone she reserves for when she’s trying to be nice.
“Hi,” I said, glancing at him. There was an awkward pause. Mrs. Kindan took a deep breath.
“He’s deaf.” Oh. Suddenly my special introduction made much more sense. “He’s been trained in ASL. I know that’s not what you use with your cousing, but I’ve been told it’s close enough. I’d like you to help him transition here. Lisa” at this she gestured to a petite bottle blonde I hadn’t noticed sitting in the corner of the room, “Will be his official interpreter, but I think it will be easier on him if he has someone his own age to talk to.” I very carefully kept myself from rolling my eyes. Like he really wants me to babysit him while he’s trying to make friends. On the other hand, Lisa looked like she was about 60, and probably wouldn’t be much fun to drag around to whatever frat parties he wanted to attend (not that I would either, but Kindan doesn’t know that).
“Now, I’ll just leave you two to get acquainted.” And Mrs. Kindan left. We stood awkwardly for a few minutes, carefully avoiding looking at each other. Finally I signed an introduction.
[I’m Rachel.] He looked genuinely surprised that I knew sign.
[I guess she already told you who I am,] he signed back. I grinned.
[Yeah. Sorry about her. She doesn’t quite get it.]
[I noticed.] He almost smiled then, and I could tell that if he would actually smile, he would be much more handsome. We were still for another few minutes.
[So what made you move from the big city all the way out here?] I asked. I saw his face immediately shut down into a stiff mask.
[I’ve got to go find my classes,] he signed. He brushed past me, letting the door slam shut behind him.
“What did I say?” I wondered aloud.
That afternoon, waiting for the shuttle that would take me back to the apartment, I was bombarded by questions. Everyone seemed to know about my encounter. Half the girls were begging me to teach them basic sign, just so that they could talk to him. There were even several giggling cheerleaders that spent more time gushing over how hot he is than actually asking how to introduce themselves. I ended up ditching them without ever saying anything. Finally the bus arrived and I escaped to a seat in the back. A few minutes later Drew swung into the seat across the way.
I couldn’t help it. I watched him the whole way home. The cheerleaders were right: he was pretty hot. He sat there slouched over the entire way, watching out the window. Several times, I sat up and thought about trying to start a conversation, but I never actually did. I still didn’t know why what I said earlier offended him so much and I was almost afraid to find out. Why is moving such a touchy subject?
We both got off at the Docks (don’t ask me why they decided an apartment complex in the middle of a concrete jungle was called the Docks. I have no clue.). He walked ahead of me out to the end of the row, and then climbed all the way to the top – the penthouse. I couldn’t believe it. This kid was rich! What is he doing out here? I mean, we’re not the poorest community around, but still – he came from NYC! There are so many more opportunities there. For all I can tell, he might as well be related to the Rockefellers. He’s certainly got enough money.
I watched him unlock the door, before climbing the two flights to my own apartment. From the direction he was headed, I’d say he’s living in the Dalish room, which is odd, because no-one’s lived there in fifteen years – no-one can afford it!
Anyways, I haven’t really talked to him since that first day. I know, Mrs. Kindan wanted me to be very friendly, but he doesn’t seem to want to have friends. He keeps away from everyone – though some of this may be that he doesn’t want to speak, and despite having you around for however-many years, most of our classmates don’t sign. I just don’t know, Ellie. He’s odd.
So that’s it for news from here. Good luck with the new job, and I’ll cross my fingers that you can come home soon!

Rachel

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