Disclaimer: I own nothing affiliated with Speak. Huge props goes to Anderson on that one.

A/N: So...this is random. I tore through the book for a second time since I bought it, and I don't know why, but I just got in the writing mood. If no one enjoys this, I don't know if I'm going to care, even though that sounds horrible of me. I wrote this...for me. Because I couldn't stand not knowing what would/could happen next. Maybe you guys felt the same way?

Me: "Let me tell you about it."

I tell him everything. I tell him about the party, about the cops, about IT. I tell him about Rachel and Nicole and Ivy. I tell him the truth. And he listens.

Mr. Freeman, when I'm done telling the story, doesn't say anything at all. I'm glad that he doesn't have the same pitying look that Rachel and Nicole had. Or the look Mom and Dad shared. Mr. Freeman looks...like he gets it. He understands. Or at least he understands me. He gets it.

Mr. Freeman: "So that's why..." He whistles under his breath, and takes the tree out of my hands. "All year long I knew there was something about you, Tree-Girl. Something you were hiding." He gives me the tree back. "What people fail to realize is that sometimes silence is the loudest cry for help there could ever be."

I'm not stunned or impressed by his words. I don't need reassurance. I don't need soothing or tears. I don't need any of that crap. But more than anyone else I've ever known, Mr. Freeman has been my friend. So I smile and stand.

"I've got to go."

Mr. Freeman gets up from the stool, and signals for me to wait. He runs around the room for a minute, and then comes back. "Here. I want you to have these."

I look down at my hands, where he had placed something within. In my hand rests all of the sketches I had made. Every tree, imperfect, broken, bruised, is there. Every tree with a story is resting in my palms.

Me: "What am I supposed to do with these?"

Mr. Freeman (after laughing): "Just keep them. Some day you'll be glad to have them."

I nod, and tuck them into my bag. I head for the door and pause. Mr. Freeman has pulled out a new canvas. He doesn't expect me to say anything more, and for that I'm thankful. Words and me have never been all that friendly.

At the last second I decide there's one more thing I have to say. One more thing I've never meant since IT came into my life. I pause at the door still, and wait. When he picks up a paintbrush, I say, "Thank you."

Mr. Freeman doesn't turn, doesn't say anything. We just let the silence envelope us in its warmth.

And as I walk away, I realize that I really meant the words.

I smile through cracked lips.

A new era has begun.

A/N: Eh. Yes, this was short. Yes, I don't know where this is going. Yes, I'm horrible at updating. Yes, you may review. ;) See how sly I am? I'm telling you, dudes. You can't help but love me.