When Allie and her mother arrived home, all Allie wanted to do was lock herself in her room and cry some more. She did not wish to explain to her father what had happened, but Paul was a part of the family, and he had every right to know. Paul greeted the two women cheerfully, gave Alexandra a kiss on the cheek, and said, "So, how was your female bonding experience? Did you two buy me a new pair of sunglasses, or something?" He was trying to lighten up the mood, which unfortunately did not work.
"It was marvelous, Paul," Alexandra simply replied.
Then Paul noticed the scar on his wife's right cheek. "Hey, what happened to your face? You look like you've been in an accident or something."
"Daddy, it was nothing," Allie replied, trying her best not to bring up the subject.
Paul chuckled. "Nothing? Why, what exactly do you mean by that? You didn't have that scar on your face when you two were leaving an hour ago."
"Well, congratulations for making a joke out of this, Paul," Alexandra suddenly lashed out. "You don't even seem to notice, do you? Well, of course not; all you men are simply alike, every single one of you!" She threw the shopping bags on the floor in anger and stormed off to their room. Paul was just flabbergasted. He obviously had not the slightest clue what was going on.
He saw Allie crying again, and he said, "Sweetie, what's going on? What's wrong with your mother?"
"I can't tell you, Daddy," Allie sobbed. "I'm so sorry. I wish I could, and I would really love to---but I just can't!" She cried even harder as she hugged her father. Paul hugged her back.
"It's okay, Alessandra," Paul said softly. "It's okay." He gently patted her back and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "You know you can always tell me anything, Allie. You know that, right?"
"Yes, Daddy." Allie nodded.
Paul got a tissue and wiped Allie's eyes. "You know, you've got the most lovely eyes ever," he said softly. "You get it from your mother."
Allie smiled, feeling somewhat better now. However, many compliments would never be enough to take away Allie's pain and the scar that she felt in her heart.
That evening after supper, Allie was in her room, getting ready for bed. She was doing all she could to try to forget that terrifying experience at the mall. That experience which was supposed to end on a happy note, spending female quality time with her mother.......now it was a memory that was never meant to be in the first place. Allie knew she would always cry herself to sleep each night, and what was making her more miserable was the fact that she could not tell anybody. Her mother could not tell her father or anybody else, and she couldn't bear to tell Betty Jane or Quincy, either. Not even Gladys, Peggy Ann, or Mary Louise, or even write to them in a letter. All she could do was write all about it in her brand new diary that she and Alexandra bought for her just today. It wasn't a very pleasant way to start a new topic in a new diary, but Allie had to do her very best.
Trying to suppress her tears, Allie took out her writing pen and opened to the very first page of the book and began writing: "Friday, January 29, 1960, the worst day ever of my very young life........"
Meanwhile, Alexandra and Paul were trying to break the strength of the silence, Paul convincing Alexandra to tell him what had happened to her. "It's a very long and painful story, Paul," Alexandra said as tears ran down her face.
Paul gave her a tissue to wipe her eyes. "Now come on, tell me. You know I'm a very understanding, reasonable man."
"That's just the problem, Paul." Alexandra broke down into tears once again. "I'm not supposed to tell anybody. Not even you. I mean, he really threatened me, saying he would hunt me down and try to kill me if I ever told you or anybody. It's important that I remain in silence forever. I can't risk losing my life, and think about Alessandra. It's gonna scar her for good, and I don't want whatever will happen to me to happen to her as well. The point is, Paul, I do want to tell you---I'm just very afraid!" She covered her face with her pillow and continued crying.
Paul wrapped his arm around his wife. "You never have to be afraid to tell me anything, Alexandra. I'm your husband, and your problem is my problem. We'll face it together, just the three of us. I'll make sure that Allie does not become permanently traumatized by any of this. She's still very young, and she still has her entire life ahead of her."
"I used to be so worried for her, all those times she was feeling down when she and Quincy weren't on speaking terms. It's kind of funny in a way, isn't it?" Alexandra smiled a small smile. "We used to be worried for her; now she is the one worrying for me. I guess I never really expected that, huh?"
Paul smiled and said, "She certainly takes after the two of us. Especially you, Alex. She takes after you the most. She's got your beautiful blue eyes and pale, glowing skin. We're very lucky to have her as our little girl."
Alexandra sniffed. "Except she's not so little anymore. She's gonna be thirteen in a few months, Paul. She's practically a teenager already. Pretty soon, she'll start experiencing womanly pain every single month, and I'm gonna have to talk to her about........the birds and the bees." She chuckled a little bit.
"The birds and the bees," Paul muttered. "Interesting topic conversation." He chuckled.
"Indeed it is, Paul."
"Please tell me what happened to you, Alex. I promise I won't tell anybody else, but until we can figure out what to do, I will always have your back." Paul held her hand. "Always."
Alexandra then told Paul all the details of what had happened to her at the mall while Allie was trying out her four dresses.
From that moment onward, Allie was in a deep state of shock and silence. She was so immense in her trauma that she could not focus on anything else, such as school, leisure, or anything else. She kept wondering what would happen if she told another living soul. The man would eventually get caught, and he would track down Allie's family and it would spell the end of all things humanity for Allie. So it was a matter of life and death that she kept her lips sealed.
Allie's teachers were becoming concerned about her unusual behavior lately. So far, Allie's grades have been dropping drastically, and she distanced herself from Betty Jane and Quincy, and she couldn't bring herself to say what was truly on her mind. The school dance was coming up, and after all that time Allie and her mother had spent buying those beautiful dresses for her, Allie decided that she was not going. She could not bring herself to face her classmates or even enjoy herself for one night, due to that traumatic experience. She wanted to isolate herself even more by trapping herself in her room, never wanting to come out at all to face the world.
One day in March, Betty Jane felt tired of being shunned and ignored, so she went up to Allie and started to confront her. "Being ignored is one thing I can take, but the way you've been acting lately is so unlike you, Allie. What seems to be the matter?"
Allie's new way of communication was now expressed on paper. She took out a piece of paper from her notebook and wrote on it, "I can't tell you," and gave it to Betty Jane.
"What do you mean, you can't tell me? You haven't even spoken a single word to anyone in over a month now!"
Allie then wrote down, "I'm sorry, but I just cannot say. If I did, then I'm gonna be in huge trouble. You probably wouldn't understand, anyway."
"What do you mean I wouldn't understand?" snapped Betty Jane. "I'm your friend, aren't I, Allie?"
Allie wrote down, "Yes, I know."
"Then why won't you tell me?!"
Allie wrote down, "Because I told you, I'm gonna get into huge trouble. I know something bad will come my way if I uttered a word to you or Quincy or anybody else. For now, I think it's best that I remain silent. I don't want to risk my life if I told you what was going on."
"And I always thought that we were supposed to be the best of friends, Allie. We always confided in each other for everything, but I suppose that being that you're the new girl from Boston, you wouldn't understand what it means to be a true friend, do you? Well, you know what? Just forget it. Forget that I ever met you, and forget that I even know you." Betty Jane slammed shut her locker and just walked on off. Allie may have won her pride by keeping her silence, but she had lost one good friend without really intending to. And the battle wasn't over yet.
Allie was becoming the new talk of the school for being so-called "strange." Every time she walked into the halls, the other kids were pointing at her, whispering to themselves and laughing among each other, wondering what her deal was. Mostly, it was the girls doing all the gossiping and the taunting, and the boys were just going along with it. Even Quincy's friends were talking among each other about how weird his "girlfriend" was.
"Your girl is really strange, MacKenzie," Peter said, and the other boys laughed.
"Cut it out, you guys. It's not funny," Quincy said. "And she's not my 'girl.' We're just really close friends."
"Quince, if you ever really noticed, Allie hasn't said a single word to any person at all since February," Alan said. "That was a month ago. She writes all her thoughts down on paper as if she's suffering from laryngitis or something."
"Well, maybe she's just going through such a tough time right now," Quincy said, also sounding a bit dubious himself.
"Some tough time," Dennis said with a scoff. "She can barely manage to keep her grades up. She keeps this up, and she's gonna flunk herself outta seventh grade, and she'll be the only one who has to repeat."
"That's not gonna happen, Dennis," Quincy said.
"And how are you so sure of that?" asked Nicolas.
"Because........Allie is my closest friend, and we tell each other everything," Quincy said. "If she's having a tough problem, she knows she can always come to me. I'm always there to make her feel better."
"Then why hasn't she said anything to you in the past month, smart one?" Alan said sarcastically, and the four of them laughed.
Then one day, Allie was called down to the principal's office for a little discussion about her grades. Mrs. Crawford was very kind and understanding, and also quite strict when she needed to be. Allie had never been called down to the principal's office before, and this was her first time being in Mrs. Crawford's office, so Mrs. Crawford was not too hard on her. "Hello, Alessandra," she said as Allie came right in. "Please come on in, shut the door, and take a seat." She grinned. Allie felt a little uncomfortable and uneasy sitting down in the chair of the principal's office.
"So, how's your day been so far?" Mrs. Crawford hoped to start a friendly conversation, but unfortunately for her, Allie was not in the mood for regular interaction. She wrote down the word "Good" on paper for response.
"Ah, not speaking, I can tell." Mrs. Crawford smiled. "And apparently, this has been going on for quite some time now."
Allie wrote down, "I am very sorry, Mrs. Crawford, but I am just not allowed to speak. I am afraid that if I said just one word, it would spell a lot of huge trouble for me and my family."
"Oh, I see," Mrs. Crawford said. Clearly, she was very confused. "So, anyway, I called you down here because I thought it would be a great idea if we discussed your grades, but since I can tell that you are not in the mood for talking, then I suppose we should just........."
Allie started writing something down, which was, "I can explain. I know my grades have been very low, but I'm doing my very best to keep them up, only I can't because I'm not allowed to tell you what's really on my mind. I hope you understand."
"I understand, Alessandra," Mrs. Crawford said. "At least, I believe I do. And I know that you can tell me anything so that I can try to help you out, if I may. Are you having problems at home?"
Allie wrote down, "Yes."
"Is there a death in the family?"
Allie wrote down, "No."
"Is it something personal?"
Allie shook her head, but wrote down, "Yes."
"What does that mean?"
Allie wrote down, "Yes, it is something personal, but it only concerns my mother and me, and she's not allowed to tell anyone, otherwise she's going to be in huge trouble. So I'm also doing her a favor by keeping my silence so that she doesn't get into trouble."
"Oh, I see," Mrs. Crawford said. "It must be that serious, isn't it?"
"Well, one thing I know for certain, you can say anything you can possibly want. Isn't that right?"
Just then, Allie said aloud, "Yes."
"So, you can talk after all?"
"You just can't inform me about what your issue is?"
"No, I cannot."
"I understand," said Mrs. Crawford. "Really, I do. Well, Alessandra, whatever your problem is, I must say that I am very sorry and I hope you'll get through it just fine." Allie shook her head in disagreement, but Mrs. Crawford continued talking anyway. "And whenever you are ready to break your silence, you just understand that you need to learn to improve your grades, otherwise I'll have to hold you back. And I know you don't really want that. You are a very intelligent and inquisitive girl, Miss Sampson. You know what you are, and I hope I have the chance to see you act your normal self again."
Allie wrote down, "I won't let you down, Mrs. Crawford."
"I trust that you'll never let me down, Alessandra," Mrs. Crawford said. "Now you go on and enjoy the rest of your day."
Allie waved good-bye to Mrs. Crawford and left the principal's office, and stepped out into the halls, only to be continuously ridiculed by the other classmates. One boy said to her, "Hey, Allie, why'd you get called down to Mrs. Crawford's office? What's the matter, cat's got your tongue?" He and a few other boys chuckled and snorted.
Allie glared at them, doing her best to ignore them and not stoop to their level. One girl said, "What's the use, Harry? She can't even talk to save her own life!" Then she and the other girls giggled.
Allie was expecting Betty Jane to stand up for her, but then she realized that she had pushed Betty Jane away from her by refusing to talk to her. Betty Jane was giving her the cold shoulder, which Allie wasn't very good at receiving. She also expected Quincy to stick up for her, but he was to no avail, either.
"For the new girl in town, you really are dumb as rocks," one girl said to Allie. Allie, unable to withstand all the hurtful comments and backlashes, burst into tears and immediately began taking off. She ran as fast as she could away from the school, running, running as fast as she could to home and trap herself in her room for the entire weekend. She thought she was saving her mother's life by keeping her silence for each of their sake, but she was only making things worse. She was failing the seventh grade, and she had lost her friends, and if it wasn't worse enough........the man would come back to haunt her and her family for good, if she dared mention a single word to anybody.