The Sound of Silence

The phone alarm signaled the start of the day at 7. Naomi knew she shouldn’t keep her phone charging and stashed under her pillow, but it was never out of reach.

Even through the cracked screen, a 15-minute trawl through Facebook and that fit
footballer’s Instagram story had become a morning ritual. Having the bedroom next to the family bathroom was a curse if you ever fancied a lie in.

The shower ran with a squeak as Naomi’s mum got ready for work. The hairdryer and kitchen radio would soon follow. The bin men were making a racket outside and already Naomi’s phone was beeping with constant messages from the WhatsApp group after last night’s drama. That could wait.

She went through the motions, got dressed, brushed her teeth, appeased her mum by
grabbing a croissant from the kitchen and waved it with a half-arsed shout of goodbye as she shut the front door.

The exams weren’t going well, too little too late. Feeling the panic rise in her throat, she fished out her earpods, hit shuffle, and dumped the croissant in the wheelie bin.
As much as she liked Mrs. Rhodes, the last thing Naomi needed this morning was another
pep talk, the last one hadn’t gotten her through more than half of yesterday’s physics paper with any confidence.

“Morning Nomi, you got this okay, just remember…”

“Yep, I hear you miss.” Naomi took out her ear pods and shrugged her off mid-sentence.

At least arriving early meant she could get into the exam hall before having to deal with Chloe and the barrage of questions about disappearing with Ben last night.

Naomi dropped her bag at the back of the hall and walked down the neat rows of exam desks. Sitting close to the window, she stared out at the passing traffic on the ring road. As the test paper was laid on the desk in front of her, the panic began to set it.

Enveloped by the sound of silence, Naomi breathed deeply and put her head on the desk.

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