Sometimes, our silence is louder than words.
For a group of friends, one mistake changed the course of their lives forever.
In the aftermath of a tragic school shooting, the group must find their own form of justice and a way to begin healing from a wound that just won’t stop hurting.
For them, the lines were drawn.
Right and wrong became blurred.
Friends became enemies.
Told from the perspective of four friends, we learn how one student’s revenge reigned terror over a school and a community– causing secrets to unfold and relationships to be tested.
A compelling and powerful story about a school shooting. A must-read.
Title: Silent Screams
Author: Zachary Ryan
Publication Date: June 29, 2020
Publisher: Kingston Publishing Company
Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ+, Contemporary
I walked into my house to see my parents sitting in the living room. I dropped my bag, and I wanted nothing more than to avoid having a conversation with them. “I have a bunch of homework to do,” I said.
My mom looked at my father. She got off the couch. “That’s weird,” she said. “We got an email from your principal informing us that there would be no homework this week to get you all adjusted back to school life.” She grabbed my hand and towed me to the couch.
My dad reached out and patted my knee. “How are you feeling today?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes. I felt the urge to touch my left wrist. I didn’t know why it was a habit. It happened almost a year ago. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just move on from it. They caught me in time. “Dad, I’m fine. It was tough being there because of all the stares,” I said. I knew it was uncomfortable having all eyes on me. I knew Zachary, Cass, and Ben were used to it. They were popular, and I was just their quiet friend. I think that was why Gabe and I bonded. We were both of the ones people forgot about. I knew that I wasn’t like Gabe, because I wasn’t bullied as much as he was.
“It will get easier,” she said. She got up off the couch. “I don’t know the feelings you’re dealing with. I wish that I could make things easier for you, but I’m stuck feeling lost.” I could tell that my mother was just trying to be strong for me, but there was no handbook for any of this.
My dad smiled. He was trying to distract me from seeing my mother being so vulnerable. He picked up a flyer off the coffee table. “Why don’t we go to the LGBT film festival this weekend in the city?” he asked. “We could stay in the city, and you could go to Center on Halstead. Maybe you’ll meet a boy,” he said.
I groaned and leaned back into the pillow. “I don’t want to be anywhere near a cute guy if you two are going to hound them if they’re going to be good to me,” I said. Plus, I wasn’t ready to meet someone else, especially, after losing Colby.
My mom turned to look at me. “You deserve to be happy, dear.” She walked over to sit down with us again. “You’ve had enough heartbreak in your life. We just want you to have something that will be good for you. Is that so wrong?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Mom, you don’t have to make a big deal out of everything.” I stood up. “I want you guys to stop acting like I need to scream to the mountain tops that I’m gay.” I knew that after I tried to kill myself, that my parents tried over and over again to tell me they were proud of me being gay. Too bad I wasn’t proud of myself.
My dad pulled out a giant rainbow flag from the closet. “So, we won’t be waving this to get guys’ attention?” he asked.
I looked at the pure confusion on his face, and I just laughed. My dad had been completely clueless on how to raise me, but he did it with so much love, that it was okay he looked like an idiot sometimes. I got off the couch and walked up to him and hugged him. “We can wave the flag as hard as you want this weekend.” I walked over to the stairs. I knew I was trying to comfort them for their own mistakes against me.
“You know that they’ll love you for you, right?” my mom asked.
I turned to her. “I don’t think my friends can handle it right now,” I said.
“They don’t need to be disappointed by someone else for not being their true selves to them.” I walked up the stairs and closed the door. I walked over to my bed. I felt like the walls were closing in. I opened my nightstand and pulled out a blade. I held it in my hand and closed my eyes.
“Do you think Colby would have wanted this for you?” Gabe asked.
I looked up to see him standing there. I felt rage inside of myself. I stood up and stormed toward him. “You don’t get to mention his name.”
Gabe smirked. “Maybe next time, you should have been open about your relationship, and I would have spared him,” he said.
“F*ck you, Gabe,” I screamed. Gabe had no right to have a smug smile or blame me for what he did to Colby. I sat back on the bed. “You could have come to us with your feelings. We would have understood.”
“Like you’ve come out to your friends. It’s better to keep it in until you explode.”
I turned to him. “No, it’s not. Look at what happened to you when you exploded.”
“And yet, you’ve continued to keep it in. Have fun mourning someone that you kept in secret for so long,” he said.
I turned and grabbed my phone. I pulled up a picture of me and Colby. I then looked at his last text he would ever send to me. I wished I could have been proud of myself. I wished I had the strength to come out, but I didn’t have the courage. Gabe’s words came to my mind. When would I explode, and who would be hurt when I did?
Zachary Ryan grew up in a black-and-white box in Maryland, before moving to Chicago to start a new life. There, he found that he was accepted for his misfit status-and learned that it’s perfectly normal to spend your twenties feeling lost and confused.
After a disastrous sexual encounter, Ryan stumbled on a group of true friends, or “soul cluster,” that he connected with. Through his writing, he hopes to help other broken souls out there find comfort amid the chaos.
For more information about Zachary Ryan or to stay updated on future book releases, check out his Goodreads profile!