After a blurred trauma over the summer, Melinda enters high school a selective mute. Struggling with school, friends, and family, she tells the dark tale of her experiences, and why she has chosen not to speak.

Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. No one really cares what you have to say.
Heather: So here's the plan. We join 5 clubs. One for every day of the week. Not like Latin club, but cool stuff. What do you wanna join? Hey, maybe we can tutor kids at the elementary school. What about your friends from last year? Don't you know Nicole?
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice if I just stopped talking.
Melinda Sordino: Gym should be illegal. It's humiliating.
Heather: I *hate* being a Martha. You were *so* right not to join. I mean all I am is their little slave. Ok, it was supposed to be me and Meg and Siobhan decorating the Holiday Inn for prom and now Meg and Siobhan can't do it and I'm totally screwed! Mel, you *have* to help me! They have some sales meeting in there until like three but then they'll let us start and I *know* we can do it!
[Melinda gives a blank stare]
Heather: You are *so* great! I owe you *big* time! What if I help you redecorate your room? I know, a nice seafoam green!
Melinda Sordino: [hesitates] No...
Heather: Ok, or... something *rich* like, like eggplant!
Melinda Sordino: No, I mean, I won't help you.
Heather: But you have to.
Melinda Sordino: No, I don't.
Heather: But why?
Melinda Sordino: [now angry] Because I was nice to you... in the beginning of school... when I didn't even like you. And you blew me blew me off! Because you're a self centered social climber! And you know what? I know what I wanna do to my room and it doesn't involve "eggplant". I think you should go!
David Petrakis: Listen, the suffragettes were all about speaking up. You can't speak up for your rights and be silent. I thought what you did was cool but you can't make a difference unless you speak up.
Melinda Sordino: Do you lecture all your friends like this?
David Petrakis: Only the ones I like.
David Petrakis: The suffragettes fought for their right to speak. They were attacked, arrested and thrown in jail for daring to do what they wanted to do. Like them, Melinda is willing to stand up for what she believes. That no one should be forced to give speeches.
Mr. Neck: What is this?
David Petrakis: Melinda has to deliver her report to the class as part of the assignment. She made copies everyone can read.
Mr. Neck: Oh, no you don't. When I say oral I mean oral. Now you
Mr. Neck: sit down! And *you*
Mr. Neck: read that report. Open your mouth Sordino. Open your damn mouth!
[Melinda remains silent]
Mr. Neck: I am so sick of your attitude.
[he drags her by the arm to the principal's office]
Melinda Sordino: [voice over] I forgot the suffragettes were hauled off to jail. Duh!
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] The school board decided that Trojans didn't send a strong message of abstinence. So we'll now be the home of the Merryweather Hornets.
random cheerleader: What are we supposed to cheer? We are the hornets, the horny horny hornets?
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] We're studying American history for the ninth time in nine years. Every year they say we're gonna get right up to the present but we always get stuck in the industrial revolution.
Mr. Neck: My family has been in this country for over 200 years. We built this place. We fought in every war, from the first one to the last one, paid our taxes and voted. So tell me *why* my son can't get a job?
[a number of students raise their hand but he ignores them]
Mr. Neck: Reverse discrimination. He wanted to be a firefighter. Went up for the job but he didn't get it. What I'm suggesting here is maybe if we had closed our boarders in 1900 then real americans would get the jobs they deserved.
[the Native American student raises his hand but the teacher points to Heather]
Mr. Neck: Young lady.
Heather: Um, I think that we're all foreigners and should just give the country back to the native americans.
Mr. Neck: Now we have a debate, don't we? "Native Americans"?
black student: Maybe your son didn't get the job because he wasn't good enough. Or maybe he's lazy. Or maybe the other guy was just better than him.
Mr. Neck: Watch your mouth, mister. That's my son you're talking about. You know what? That's enough debate. Everybody take out your book.
[Dave stands up to speak]
Mr. Neck: Mr. Petrakis, please take your seat.
David Petrakis: If the class is debating then each student has the right to say what's on his mind.
Mr. Neck: I decide who talks in here, Mr. Petrakis.
David Petrakis: You opened a debate, you can't close it just because it's not going your way.
Mr. Neck: Watch me! Take your seat, Mr. Petrakis!
David Petrakis: The constitution does not recognize different levels of citizenship based upon the time spent in the country. As a citizen and a student I'm protesting the tone of this lesson as racist, intolerant, and zenophobic.
Mr. Neck: Sit your butt in that chair, Mr Petrakis, and watch your mouth! I try to get this debate going and you people turn it into a "race" thing. Sit down, Mr. Petrakis, or you're gonna go down to the principal's office.
[Dave walks out of the room]
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] Dave Petrakis is my new hero.
Melinda Sordino: I hate winter. I've lived in the midwest my whole life and I hate winter. It starts too early and it ends too late. Why doesn't everyone just move to Florida?
Melinda Sordino: It happened. There's no avoiding it. No forgetting.
Melinda Sordino: I should probably tell someone. Just... *anyone*. Get it over with. Blurt it out.
Melinda Sordino: It's time for a mental health day. So conjugate this: I cut class. You cut class. He/she/it cuts class.
Andy Evans: [forcefully] So I raped you? I could have any girl in this school I wanted. Willingly! Why would I rape you? You're not even attractive.
Melinda Sordino: [tries to run but is grabbed by Andy] No! No, no!
Andy Evans: You really screwed things up for me! You know that?
Melinda Sordino: No, help me!
Andy Evans: You are going to go to every single person in this school and tell them that you lied!
[Melinda throws chemicals in Andy's eyes]
Andy Evans: Ah! My eyes!
Melinda Sordino: [screaming] No! Get off of me! Get off!
Nicole: [from outside of the closet] What's going on in there? Open this door right now!
[sees Melinda holding a shard of glass to Andy's neck]
Nicole: Come out, Melinda.
[to Andy]
Nicole: What the hell is wrong with you?
Andy Evans: [panting in pain] Um.
Nicole: Answer me! Everybody knows what you did. Say something, asshole!
Andy Evans: [Melinda walks away] Please, no!
Nicole: Don't move!
Andy Evans: I can't see!
Nicole: You're not going anywhere.
Andy Evans: Please move! I can't see anything!
Mr. Neck: [yells down the hall] Hey! What's going on down there?
[to Melinda]
Mr. Neck: What happened? Melinda?
Rachel Bruin: Oh my God! Why didn't you tell me?
Melinda Sordino: It's just, when the police came everyone just started freaking out. I got scared. I walked home. After that night I couldn't tell anyone.
Rachel Bruin: Did you get pregnant? Did you get AIDS? Are you okay?
Melinda Sordino: Yeah. I mean, no, I didn't get pregnant. I'm fine.
Rachel Bruin: Was it someone from this school? Who was it? Melinda, tell me!
Melinda Sordino: It was Andy Evans.
Rachel Bruin: [angry] What? I can't believe you. Liar! You're jealous! I'm popular and I'm going to prom and you're telling me this. That's twisted, Melinda! Seriously, you're sick. You need help!
Mr. Freeman: [about the same project] I see a girl caught in the remains of a holiday gone bad, with her flesh picked off day after day as the carcass dries out. The knife and fork are abviously middle-class sensibilities. The palm tree is a nice touch. A broken dream,perhaps? Plastic hunnymoon, deserted island? Oh, If you put in a lice of pumpkin pie, it couldbe a desserted island!
Melinda Sordino: Here's what I learned in bio. If the seed is planted too deep it doesn't warm up in time. Once the plant surfaces it sprouts leaves so it can absorb more sun. If someone picks the flower the plant grows another bloom to produce more seeds.
Melinda Sordino: Today is career day. Am I A: a helper B: a doer C: a planner or D: a dreamer.
Heather: This is really awkward. No matter what... no, I don't wanna say that. I mean, we kinda paired up at the beginning of school when I was new and didn't know anyone and that was really really sweet of you. But I think it's time that we both admit to each other that we're just very different people. I mean, I have my modeling and I like to shop...
Melinda Sordino: I like to shop.
Heather: You don't like anything. You're the most depressed person I've ever met. And excuse me for saying this but I think you need professinal help.
Melinda Sordino: So you're blowing me off because I'm a little depressed?
Heather: Once you get through this "life sucks" phase, I'm sure lots of people will wanna be your friend. But for right now, I don't think we should have lunch together.
Joyce Sordino: You don't have to talk about it, you know, if you don't want to.
Melinda Sordino: No, I wanna tell you about it.
Melinda Sordino: Last year, I went to this party at the end of the year...
Melinda Sordino: My English teacher has no face. I call her Hairwoman.
Melinda Sordino: Why should I worry about Rachel?
Melinda Sordino: [alter ego] He'll hurt her. You were your best friends for nine years. That counts for something.
Melinda Sordino: She's a traitor and a witch.
Melinda Sordino: [alter ego] She doesn't know what happened.
Melinda Sordino: She'll hate me.
Melinda Sordino: [alter ego] She already hates you.
Melinda Sordino: I hope he breaks her heart.
Melinda Sordino: It's my first day of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomach ache.
Melinda Sordino: I was raped.
Ivy: [looking at Melinda's art project] It's scary. Like, in a weird. way. Not clown scary. How do I say this? It's like you don't want to look at it for too long.
Mr. Freeman: Excellent. This is excellent.
Mr. Freeman: Hi everybody! Welcome to Art. *The* only class that will teach you how to survive. This is where you can find your soul, if you dare. Don't ask me to show you how to draw a face. Ask me to help you find the wind.
Ivy: [about Melinda's art project] It's scary, like in a weird way, not "clown" scary, um how do I say this? It's like you don't wanna look at it too long.
[Melinda just fainted while disecting a frog]
David Petrakis: Melinda! Hello? Can you count backwards from 10? Who is the president of the United States? Come on, open your eyes.
Ms. Keen: Dave, don't hit her!
David Petrakis: That's what your supposed to do! My dad's a doctor.
David Petrakis: [still slapping her] Melinda, who's the governor of Texas?
Mr. Freeman: You need to visit the mind of the great one. Picasso. Picasso, who saw the truth. Who painted the truth. Who ripped it from the earth with two angry hands.
Mr. Freeman: Hey, Melinda! I'm glad you're here.
High School Student: Thanks for everything, Mr. F. I really hope I make enough money so I can afford one of your paintings.
Mr. Freeman: [laughing] Yeah, alright. Go on have fun! Make the world a better place.
Melinda Sordino: You're leaving?
Mr. Freeman: I like to swear. Play music. I hate giving grades.
Melinda Sordino: [disappointed] Have a nice life.
Mr. Freeman: I'm here if you want to talk. Even if I'm not, you know, here.
Melinda Sordino: Excuse me, sir? Um, I was wondering if... uh, I was j...
Mr. Neck: Come on, Sordino. Spit it out. You have to learn to enunciate. Or else no one will listen.
Melinda Sordino: I was wondering if there was any way I can raise my grade?
Mr. Neck: Parents got the report card, huh?
Melinda Sordino: No, I just wanted to.
Mr. Neck: Why should I give you that chance?
Melinda Sordino: Everyone deserves a second chance. I mean, isn't that what Jesus said?
Mr. Neck: Are you being smart with me?
[shakes her head]
Mr. Neck: OK. I'm feeling generous. Just because I don't wanna have to see your face in summer school. Write me a report on a cultural influence at the turn of the century. And it better be good.
Melinda Sordino: It will be.
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] I'll write about the suffragettes. Before they came along women were treated like dogs.
Mr. Freeman: [describing his painting] It's night in Venice. This is the color of an accountant's soul - a love rejected. This, I once grew mold on an orange this color when I was living in Boston. And these are various members of the school board. You see, if somethings eating at you you gotta find a way to use it.
Mr. Neck: There is no kissing in the hallway!
Melinda Sordino: [writing in bathroom stall] Exchange students are ruining our country.
Melinda Sordino: It's hard to sleep at home. How long would it take for the nurses to figure out I don't belong here? Would they let me rest for a few days?
loudspeaker: Attention, Merryweather students. The final tally is in. Bees 35. Icebergs 17. Hilltoppers 6. Wombats 84. We will now be the home of the Merryweather Wombats.
Heather: What rhymes with wombats?
loudspeaker: For those of you who didn't vote. Maybe you've learned a valuable lesson today about democracy.
[Melinda flips off the loud speaker]
Melinda Sordino: There is no point talking to my ex-friends. Our clan the plain Janes has been absorbed by rival groups. Nicole hangs out with the jocks. Rachel went all Euro. Ivy straddles two crowds: the Goths and the Marthas. And then there's me. I'm clanless.
Mr. Freeman: In here is a piece of paper and on that piece of paper is a word. You are gonna spend the rest of the year turning that object into art.
Ivy: Uh, Mr Freeman? When I was little I was really scared of clowns and I don't wanna relapse and have to go back into therapy.
Mr. Freeman: Oh yeah, well, fear is a great place to begin art.
[Melinda picks a piece of paper that says "tree" and tries to put it back]
Mr. Freeman: Hey! Whoa. You just chose your destiny. You can't change that.
Melinda Sordino: I learned how to draw a tree in like the 2nd grade.
Mr. Freeman: Oh really? Um. Well, do you wanna show me? It's OK. I won't grade you.
[he hands her the chalk and she sulks up to the blackboard and very hesitantly draws a really pathetic tree]
Mr. Freeman: That's a pretty good start. Yeah, let's see what it looks like at the end of the year.
Melinda Sordino: [panicking] Has anyone seen the phone? Hey, has anyone seen the phone?
[finds phone and dials 911]
911 Operator: 911, please state your emergency. Hello? Hold the line. We're tracking your location.
Hairwoman: A revolutionary is only as good as his analysis. What does that mean?
[Melinda raises her hand]
Hairwoman: Melinda, better late than never. Why is a revolutionary only as good as his or her analysis?
Melinda Sordino: I think you should know what you stand for, not just what you're against. You should be able to show how things can be better.
Hairwoman: That's pretty darn good.
Mr. Freeman: Can anybody tell me what this is?
[holds up a smashed globe]
Ivy: A globe?
Mr. Freeman: A Globe? Gosh... What're you guys? 13? 14? You already let them beat the creativity outta you?... It's ok. I used to let my daughters kick this around my studio when it was too wet too play outside. And one day Jenny put her foot right through Texas and the entire United States crumbled into the sea. I mean, you could, you could *paint* a wet muzzled dog... chewing Alaska! The possibilities are endless. It's almost too much but you all are important enough to give it too.
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] Oh my God. I'm turning into hair woman.
[Dad walks in the kitchen and sees the Thanksgiving turkey in a pot on the stove]
Jack Sordino: You're boiling it?
Joyce Sordino: Too big to fit in the microwave!
Melinda Sordino: Heather has found a clan. The Marthas. Very Connecticut. Very prep. I suspect money changed hands.
Melinda Sordino: It's firewood. Get it?
Hairwoman: Every word Hawthorne wrote, every comma, every paragraph break, these were done on purpose. It is our job to try and figure out what he's really trying to say.
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] Why couldn't he just say what he meant? Would they pin a scarlet letter on his chest? "S" for straightforward?
Hairwoman: The house with the chunks of glass in its walls, is a symbol of what? Well, it would reflect, sparkle? Come on people, the house symbolizes...?
Rachel Bruin: How do you know that's what he meant to say? I mean, you could just make all that up, it's just a story.
Hairwoman: This is Hawthorne, one of America's greatest novelists. And not that it makes any difference but I wrote my dissertation on Hawthorne.
Rachel Bruin: Fine, but, I thought we were all supposed to have opinions here. I mean it's a good story especially when Hester and that guy fall in love. But I don't really believe in symbolism. I mean you can just make all that up.
Hairwoman: [about to cry] Alright class, I want you all to write a 500 word essay on symbolism. And then... turn it in!
Melinda Sordino: [voiceover] Poor Hairwoman. I hope they send her to a conference or something. I'm ready to help pay for a sub.
Melinda Sordino: Ivy's being nice. Say something. My throat is dry. It hurts.
Melinda Sordino: Dave Petrakis invited me over to do lab homework. I said no. No thanks. I just... I can't.
Jack Sordino: And these are for you!
[pushes presents toward Melinda]
Jack Sordino: Open the big one first.
Joyce Sordino: [after Melinda opens a television] For your room! It will help you fall asleep.
Jack Sordino: Oh yeah, and one more.
Joyce Sordino: [after Melinda opens a sketchbook and pencils] Well, we noticed you were drawing.
Joyce Sordino: Hope we got the right kind.
Principal: Well?
Joyce Sordino: Oh for the love of gGd, open your mouth Melinda.
Jack Sordino: This is childish honey.
Joyce Sordino: I don't know why she's doing this to us.
Guidance Counselor: We're not ganging up on you. We're here to help.
Principal: Let's start with grades. This isn't what we expected of you Melissa.
Jack Sordino: Melinda!
Principal: Last year you were a straight-B student. No behavioral problems, few absences. What do you have to say?
Joyce Sordino: She's mute. She's mute! She not saying *anything*.
Guidance Counselor: I think that we need to explore the family dynamics at play.
Jack Sordino: All I know is that last year I had a sweet loving little girl and now she's flushing her grades down the toilet? What have you folks done to her? Huh? I play golf with the school board president. Did you know that?
Joyce Sordino: Nobody cares who you know, Jack.
Jack Sordino: Did you know that?
Joyce Sordino: Nobody cares.
Guidance Counselor: Can I just remind everyone that we need to one: reassure, two: stay open and three: don't judge.
Joyce Sordino: How old are you?
Mr. Freeman: Hey! You're the tree. Uh, you can eat lunch in here if you want. It's against school rules but I'm kind of a rebel.
[gives Melinda sheet of paper]
Mr. Freeman: Wow, uh. It's not a place mat. The rule is if you're gonna be in here you need to be working, so choose your weapon.
[puts pencils in front of Melinda]
Mr. Freeman: Do something. Anything. Hey, does this inspire you?
[points to radio]
Mr. Freeman: No?
[changes radio station]
Mr. Freeman: Hmm?
[Melinda nods yes]
Mr. Freeman: So are you going trick or treating tonight?
Melinda Sordino: No.
Mr. Freeman: Oh. You don't like candy?
Melinda Sordino: I'm too old.
Mr. Freeman: Oh right. Yeah, I got kids so I guess I never get too old.
Melinda Sordino: Last year we were witches.
Mr. Freeman: Who's we?
Melinda Sordino: My ex-best friends.
[angrily crunches her drawing up]
Mr. Freeman: What are you doing? No, no! You gotta give things a chance.
[looks at the drawing]
Mr. Freeman: Close your eyes. Just do it, I'm the teacher. Can you picture a tree? Any tree.
[sees Melinda's eyebrows bend]
Mr. Freeman: There it is. It's burned in your retina. You got it. Do it.
Melinda Sordino: It's impossible to listen to Ms. Kane. Her voice sounds like an engine that won't turn over. Plus she laughs at her own jokes.
Mr. Neck: You got a hall pass, young lady? Come here. Hustle, young lady!
[Melinda runs to Mr. Neck]
Mr. Neck: 7 minutes passed grace period. Name? Don't make this difficult. Name?
Melinda Sordino: Melinda Sordino.
Mr. Neck: Grade?
Melinda Sordino: Ninth.
Mr. Neck: That's one demerit, Sordino. Get to class.
Andy Evans: Coming? Hello? Earth to Rachel! Alright.
[gets back into his car]
Andy Evans: Okay, what did I do this time? Hmm, tell me.
Rachel Bruin: Remember when you asked me about Melinda Sordino? The girl in the art room. Why did you ask me if I was friends with her?
[Andy stares and says nothing]
Rachel Bruin: Do you know her? How do you know her?
Andy Evans: [irritated] I was looking for you. Bitch!
Jack Sordino: How's she doing?
Melinda Sordino: [shrugs] It's Thanksgiving.
Jack Sordino: [chuckles] Hey, you wanna go for donuts?

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