A/N: Just so you people know, this is my first fanfic so reviews about what I did right and what I could improve on would be especially appreciated. Please don't feel the need to be too nice if there was a spot that you just plain hated. Be harsh so I can give you guys something you'll like better and I'll feel better about submitting. Thank you all.
Disclaimer: Although it would certainly be interesting to see Stephanie Meyers submitting a piece of work here, this is not it and I am not her. Nor, do I wish to be her though I admire her talent and love her books. In short: I am not Stephanie Meyer and will never claim so unless in a joking manner. Capice?
An Ode to Silence
Silence. Everywhere I turn there is silence in my soundless world. I have never heard the twittering of birds, my parents' voices, the roar of the ocean, or anything for that matter.
I've been deaf since birth and can't imagine anything different. I'm one of the lucky ones. Why on earth would I think that, you may ask? I don't know what I've lost, or never had. It's like longing for a new dessert you've never tasted before. You can smell it, you can see others enjoying it but you yourself have never had a morsel cross your lips. It's much easier than having a taste and it being ripped away.
This is who I am and though there have been many difficulties that I wouldn't wish on another person, I couldn't be anything but grateful for the struggle. While others might consider it their in-born right to speak for themselves and raise their voice above the crowd, I had to earn it. I had to earn the right to be an 'I' and not a 'she'.
My name is Isabella Marie Swan or Bella as I prefer to be called.
When I was younger, my mother had enrolled me in a school for the deaf. Even in a community that I was supposed to belong to, my silence seemed only more pronounced and profound. I had the ability to communicate just as well as my classmates in our common language but I was still a 'she' with others speaking for me and I mistakenly hadn't seen anything wrong with it as I fell into the habit.
As I grew older, sign language was mine in every way it could be and I had no use for speech. I couldn't speak the spoken tongues well and only got frustrated with constant trying. I was a natural lip reader and content. Gradually, my views shifted and I reluctantly began going to a speech therapist again when I was ten. (I'd stopped going when I was eight.) It wasn't for months after that that I brought it home and more thoroughly into my life again.
On my thirteenth birthday however, I resolved to open a new chapter in my life since I was becoming a teenager. My speech therapy had been going well lately so I figured I was up for a challenge. No friend held a tether for me at the school for the deaf. I was going to go to a regular school and stand shoulder to shoulder with the hearing kids. I was going to make friends and just be normal.
No stories or television shows could've prepared me for the first time I walked through the doors of the school near my home though. Kids are cruel. They all shied away from me ever so slightly. At lunch, they didn't talk to me besides the first awkward introductions. At last, I thought I understood.
I made people feel bad. They didn't exactly know how to talk to me and didn't like that idea either so to make it easier on themselves. They convinced themselves that I was just another face in the crowd. Before I could do anything to stop the rift that was rapidly forming between me and the student body, I was caught in the same spot I'd been in my whole life. She said. She wants. She hopes. 'She'.
Now, I am seventeen. For the past four years, I made learning how to communicate with the hearing a way of life. I studied what I naturally had picked up with my lip reading and watched for more subtle clues to tell similar words apart. I practiced speaking familiar words and newer words I read in my books. I'd look in the mirror and make my lips form the same movements I'd gotten so used to seeing in the people I observed.
When Renee or Phil were available and willing to help, I was eager to go to them because I really couldn't tell what was wrong with my speech in the end. Though it would never be normal, it was much clearer then most deaf girls. Clear enough to pass for a person with a small speech impediment, nothing that bad at all.
Still, as I sat here in the airport beside my mother, I reminded myself of all the reasons I was exiling myself to Forks. I abhorred Forks. It was covered in almost constant cloud cover and that meant rain, lots of it. Phoenix was the place I loved with the sun, blue skies, and the large city, the polar opposite of tiny Forks where the clouds never gave room to breathe.
My main reason was to let my mother move around with Phil so she could be happy but as I thought back to my original purpose for working feverishly on my speech, I realized how much I longed for a fresh start. A start where there were no pretenses of being deaf as there was at school in Phoenix. I wanted… to be an 'I', for people to not know that I was deaf, as impossible as that seemed.
In the end, I may just end up getting written off as rude because I won't be able to answer them if I'm not facing them and reading their lips to know what they're saying but if it gets to there, I could just tell them I'm deaf or hoof it and hope for the best. At least, it would be my turn to say what I wanted to say.
Soon enough, my mother nudged me and jarred me from my thoughts. "Your plane's boarding. Are you sure you want to go? You don't have to." she asked and signed at the same time. I took in her face that could be my reflection in a few years and swallowed. "Mom, I want to. It'll be good to spend some time with Dad before I graduate," I replied in voice and in ASL.
She looked a little sad but hugged me gently and waved to me as I walked toward the gate to board.
When the plane landed, I stepped off and made my way into the terminal where I found Charlie waiting for me. He greeted me with a smile and a hug and after we exchanged fully vocal pleasantries. I wouldn't sign at home or anywhere else unless I was dealing with another deaf person. Despite this, my words felt hollow as they rolled off my tongue. I would miss sign language. We then set off on the hour long drive to rainy little Forks in his patrol car.
The ride was mostly silent because we couldn't talk very effectively when I couldn't read his lips and he couldn't sign while driving. It didn't work. Instead, I just looked out the window and tried to familiarize myself with my surroundings.
The one major thing I caught was that it was too green. An alien world without the sun or sky where it constantly rained. Yes, I was still focusing on that fact but I had bid my farewell to the sun back in Phoenix so I shouldn't be expecting an appearance.
When we arrived at the house, I took note of the faded red truck in the driveway with a bulbous cap and big rounded fenders. I loved it. I very nearly envied whoever owned it. "Whose truck is that?" I asked cautiously before turning to face Charlie for his response.
His expression was embarrassed and I didn't have time to wonder why when he spoke. "Yours. I kind of bought it for you as a homecoming gift from Billy Black; he used to go fishing with us during the summer. He's in a wheelchair so he offered to sell it to me cheap." Wow. At least it doesn't belong to a girlfriend.
I mumbled my thanks awkwardly but sincerely, succeeding in embarrassing Charlie further before retreating to my room to unpack. And to cry. I think he understood that I would need time though this was supposedly my choice. Even if he didn't, he wasn't the type to hover so we would get along well. I didn't want anyone to fuss over me.
My room was the same as it always had been with only two changes to it since the time I was a baby. He changed out a crib for a bed and added a computer, per Mom's request so we could keep in contact easier. The computer wasn't the fastest thing on earth, but it would do its job well enough and keep Mom from going ballistic and taking me back to Phoenix. If she wanted to be with Phil, (which she did) I would do what I could to make that possible.
I skipped dinner that night and just went to bed. For a while, I watched the rain fall in sheets against the window and I could see the wind blowing mercilessly against it, a thoroughly unfamiliar sight filled with my newfound feelings of homesickness.
I wondered what that sounded like since I'd seen people describe the wind like it is howling or whistling but I didn't know what that sounded like either. There was nothing to compare it to that would make sense in my eyes. There was nothing to give me an idea of what it was like to hear but I never questioned my lot in life. I only strove to make it work for me.
Unfortunately for my nerves, the school had a grand and frightening total of three hundred and fifty-eight students now. I couldn't hide in the masses because of well… the lack of masses and plus, everyone here had had their parents grow up together but it couldn't be as bad as my mind was making it out to be.
Since this was a small town new kids were quite possibly considered the eighth wonder of their world for a while, I had more time than normal to find my niche before the rift formed. That didn't mean that I would be entirely comfortable for all that time until I found my place though. Still, it would a fresh start. That's it, Bella. You can do this.
Powered by my optimistic thoughts, I sat up in bed and rifled through my stuff for my alarm clock and bed vibrator. I carefully set the time so it would go off in the AM and made sure it had the flashing lights option on. In the morning, lights would flash and my bed would vibrate and I wouldn't be able to sleep. I'd tried to sleep through it once, but it was not pleasant.
Smiling to myself, I curled up and closed my weary eyes against the dark. Within minutes, I was fast asleep.