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Maybe it’s time to stop the stealthy approach. Maybe I should just knock on the door and ask them what’s going on. The problem is, I don’t think they’ll tell me. They don’t want me to worry, not getting that what you don’t know can be scarier than what you do know. And the truth is, I’m scared for Maddie.

Not talking isn’t so bad when you’re a little kid. It hasn’t kept Maddie from making friends: seven-year-olds, after all, aren’t too hard on each other. But what happens next? Is she going to get better, start talking to people other than Mom and Dad and me? Or will she turn into the girl everyone stares at and laughs at because she can’t speak for herself? The one girl who doesn’t get asked to the ninth- grade dance, and who couldn’t answer yes even if she was asked? I don’t want to let her get there. I want to help Maddie talk.

And, at least, I know what I can do to start. I get up from the stairs and walk firmly down the hall— perfectly quiet now that I’m no longer trying. I lean against my mother’s office door and press my ear tightly against it.

Time to collect some information.