Chapter 1: Adrenaline Rush
I stood on the bridge, gazing out over the water. My hand held onto the pole, and my feet were balanced on the railing. It had seemed so simple when I'd been at home; all I had to do was let go. But I couldn't. I felt as if my hand had been super-glued to the pole. Why? My own body wouldn't let me end my life when I wanted so desperately just to die. Everyone would be happier without me; I dragged them all down. I closed my eyes, pushing the heel of my hand against them as if to force the tears back into my head. Everyone tried so hard to help me; Jazz would probably be the most wounded if I did this.
But none of them could understand what this felt like. How could they? There was nothing wrong with them. They had fully functioning bodies. I didn't. I'd started out normal. Even though I'd been four, I still remembered the accident that had made me a freak. How could you forget something like that? It stayed with you for the rest of your life. It had been a stupid childhood whim that I was ready to take the training wheels off of my bike at only four years old. I don't really remember how I got them off, but I remember going too fast down the hill of my street and leaping off my bike. My head hit the concrete, and my vision went black. When I woke up, I couldn't hear.
It wasn't even the accident that had made me this way. Our usual family doctor had gone on an extended leave so my parents had rushed me to the hospital. My twin sister Jazz had stayed at home with our family friend Vlad Masters. Vlad had wanted to take me to a different hospital, and I wish now my parents had listened to him instead. The doctor I was taken to had just graduated and made a stupid mistake—a stupid mistake that cost me my hearing. No experienced doctor would think to give a child Vicadin, no matter how much pain he was in. That's what he gave me, and he continued to give it to me until my release.
For several days after, I seemed fine. Then I woke up one morning and couldn't hear. The doctors claimed my condition would only be temporary. Now twenty-one years old, I was still waiting for temporary to be over. Living with this kind of handicap took a lot out of a person. I couldn't drive, I could only speak a few words like my family's names, and the settlement money from the doctor that did this to me paid for my private tutor. I hated that old bat the most; she might have been trained to teach deaf children, but she definitely didn't like them. She always sneered at me.
Jazz was really the one that got me through my childhood. She took it upon herself to teach me sign language, though I fought her on it. I didn't want to try and live life without sound. The doctors had said temporary.
I snorted. Temporary, my ass. Opening my eyes, I gazed down at the water once more. I shifted my hand; it didn't seem glued to the pole anymore. I leaned forward, finding breathing difficult all of a sudden as I stood precariously balanced over the water. I closed my eyes again, and I let go of the pole. I fell through the air; the adrenaline rush was amazing. My body twisted and turned as if I were doing some sort of spectacular dive. I opened my eyes just as my back connected with the water. Shit, that's cold! Then I saw her leaning over the railing staring down at me. Who is that?
The water closed over my head, and I instinctively took a deep breath. I inhaled the water, and my body worked even as my brain began to shut down. It had been thrown into self-preservation. But as darkness began to creep into my vision, my body started to shut down too. I had succeeded. I'm sorry, Jazz…
I woke to a slap in the face. The same young woman that had been standing on the bridge was now leaning over me, pressing on my chest. I let out a raspy groan, turning my head to cough up water. She stopped pushing on my chest then, gazing down at me. Her lips moved, her brows furrowed together, and her lilac eyes were narrowed in anger. Whatever she said, it must have had something to do with the fact that she'd destroyed my attempted suicide.
Shaking my head, I pointed to my ear and shook my head again. Her angry demeanor diminished, her red lips forming a little "o". She looked sheepish after that; she had probably ranted for a while. Hell, I figured she might have tried to call out to me to stop me. She stood and held out a hand to help me up. I didn't want to move, and I certainly didn't want to be alive like I was right now. I scowled and pushed her hand away. She frowned and walked away. I hoped she would leave, and I closed my eyes to try and figure out what I should try next since drowning had been foiled.
Something hard fell onto my chest, but it wasn't heavy. I opened my eyes and groaned when I saw the legal pad and the young woman standing over me. She had a pen in her hands, and she had written a message on the pad. "Why are you trying to kill yourself?" With a sigh, I pointed to my ear once more. Her gaze darkened, her lips pursed, and she snatched up the pad once more to write another message. "So, being unable to hear is a good reason to kill yourself, huh?"
My eyes narrowed, and I growled at her. What right did she have to judge what a good reason was to kill himself. She wasn't a freak. She was whole. Jerking the pad and the pen out of her hand, I wrote, "You don't know how much I've had to suffer. You wouldn't understand what it's like having to live like this. Just leave me alone."
She stomped her foot like a child. Her lips moved, and I had a feeling she was ranting again. At least I couldn't hear it. This was one time I didn't mind being deaf. The rant seemed to have only been for her though. She only wrote one sentence on the pad. "No life deserves to be wasted like this, no matter the excuse."
I snatched the pad back from her, scribbling furiously. "You think I'm doing this just for me? My family has done nothing but care for me since the accident that took my hearing away. For fourteen long years, I've suffered like this. I'm doing this so that my parents' lives aren't wasted. I'm doing this so that my sister will go out and get a life. I want them all to stop hovering around me. They don't deserve this, and I didn't either. That's why my life has to end. It's for them."
"Too fucking bad," she wrote. "If you jump again, I'm going in after you."
Oh, I'm not planning to jump… But I didn't write anything to her, Scowling at her, I stood and wobbled for a moment. I jerked my arm away from her when she reached out to help me, shooting a glare at her. She didn't even blink. Instead, she held up the pad where she'd written her name: Sam. I stared at her for a long while before taking the pad from her and writing down my name too. "I'm Danny."
My body didn't cooperate well after that freezing water. After arguing through another sheet of paper, I had reluctantly agreed to let Sam drive me home. I sat in the passenger seat, scowling and trying hard not to shiver. My hope had been that she would leave so I could try another way. Of course, I hadn't been that lucky. She was like a mosquito. Maybe I'll catch pneumonia or something. Then I can die… It seemed too much to hope for though.
The cars in the driveway told me that everyone was home. The limo on the street revealed that Vlad had come over for dinner. The man was a permanent fixture at our home. I walked inside with Sam trailing after me. My family sat at the dining room table with Vlad; they were smiling and laughing without having to pause to sign for a freak like me. Jazz noticed me first and ran over.
"Danny, you're all wet! What happened to you?" she signed as the rest of the group joined her to surround me and the girl. "You have a girlfriend?" Her lips moved so she must have said that aloud too for Sam's sake.
"She's not my girlfriend," I signed quickly, frustrated. The young woman beside me must have denied it as well because the whole group looked between us curiously. I didn't want to answer why I was wet, but Sam must have taken care of that for me.
"Suicide? Danny, how could you?!" Jazz signed.
"Sweetie, why didn't you just talk to us?" my mother asked. "There's nothing that would demand your death!"
My father just shook his head, arms crossed over his chest. It was like watching too many TV shows at one time. I had to look away. The modge podge of moving hands along with my dad's "silent" disapproval and Vlad's curious stares gave me a headache. It was Sam who tapped me on the shoulder, making me turn around to look at the pad she held up once more. "You need to go get out of those wet clothes. You are not catching some deadly sickness from this just so you can try to die again."
"You march up those stairs this instant, young man!" That came from my dad, the first thing the big man had actually signed for me to see. "Put some dry clothes on then come back down here. We need to talk about your punishment. You are grounded."
My jaw dropped. "Dad!" I cried aloud before raising my hands to sign furiously. "I am not a child anymore. So what if I want to end my life? It's my decision!"
"That life still belongs to us, son," Jack signed back. "You may be eighteen, but you're living in our house. There are consequences to stupid actions."
I dropped my gaze to the floor, hands clenching and unclenching. Very slowly, I raised my hands and signed, "I'm only still living here because I'm DEAF. I can't get a job much less a place of my own."
Jazz threw her arms around me, hugging me tightly. I could feel tears on her cheeks, but I just couldn't feel guilty about making her cry. Why didn't they understand that I was doing this for them? My mom practically dragged me upstairs and pointed me to my room. She didn't have to sign for me to know that she was telling me to get out of those wet clothes and come back down. The angry look on her face and the way she crossed her arms was enough to tell me that she wasn't happy with me either.
I took my time getting dressed. I had no reason to hurry. I didn't want to hear all the arguments my family would try and press on me regarding my attempted suicide. They just couldn't understand. None of them knew what this was like. It's worse than hell… I stripped off my wet clothes and tossed them in a pile before tugging on some dry ones. A scowl fixed firmly in place, I headed downstairs. Sam sat at the table with my family as if she belonged there, and my empty chair was right beside her.
Gritting my teeth, I signed, "She is not staying."
"She is," my mother signed. "She saved you, and we want her to be part of this discussion."
"There is no discussion!" I argued, wanting to pull out my hair. "There is nothing to discuss! I want to kill myself. So what? Let me die!"
Vlad still sat at the table, the only one that hadn't said anything just yet. At that comment, he stood so abruptly from his chair that he nearly knocked it over. He walked straight over to me and slapped me across the face. I stared at the billionaire with a slacked jaw. "You do not talk back to your parents, Daniel," the billionaire signed slowly but deliberately. "They raised you and took care of you. They don't deserve that kind of talk from you."
I scowled and looked away, cheeks flushed. Vlad was like an uncle or a second father, and it was just as embarrassing to have Vlad punish me in front of a stranger as if my own father had done it. The billionaire shook my shoulder, forcing me to look back at him. "Apologize," he signed, turning and pushing the young man forward slightly.
I gritted my teeth but turned to my parents. "I'm sorry, but that's how I feel. I don't want to live so why can't you just let me die?"
My parents let Sam answer. I just wanted to slap this girl, and my parents had practically adopted her. She didn't talk out loud and wait for my parents to translate. She just wrote what she wanted to say down on that stupid legal pad. "Why are you giving up so easily? There are so many things you can do. So many people have overcome such a handicap. Why can't you? Think of Beethoven."
Slapping a hand to my forehead, I growled. Why did everyone try to encourage me with deaf musicians? "Beethoven at least had some kind of talent going for him," I signed, letting my parents translate for her. "I don't have any special talents. I'm talentless."
"Everyone has a talent," she argued on her piece of paper. "You just need to find yours."
"Oh, really? Are you volunteering to help with that then?" I demanded, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring at her.
"I wouldn't miss this opportunity for the world," she wrote, grinning at me. I don't think sarcasm comes through well in signing.
Sam became a permanent fixture at our house, even more so than Vlad. She came over every day, learning sign language from Jazz—I absolutely refused to teach her—and pestering me with little quizzes and things she found to help me find my talent. Even if I did have a talent, even if I found it, that wouldn't change my mind. I didn't want to live like this. It was just my luck to only get a stupid cold from diving into the cold water. I couldn't hear myself coughing, but from the way my family cringed, they must've been pretty bad. Vlad took me to a doctor, but all she could give me were vitamins and advice to drink lots of fluids. I think he did it just to double-check that I didn't have pneumonia.
I sat in my room, tapping my pencil on the chemistry book open before me. My parents had encouraged me to enter college after high school, and though I didn't have any idea what to major in, I had done it just to appease them. My punishment since grounding didn't work—I didn't go anywhere anyway—was to figure out what my major would be before the beginning of the spring semester. I sneezed, wiping at my nose. That stupid cold still hadn't gone away though I no longer coughed as much as I used to.
A hand fell on my book, a hand I had begun to recognize and loathed with all my being. Sam stood beside me, grinning at me like a Cheshire cat. "We're going out," she signed to me. "You need to get out of the house."
I scowled at her. "I am not going anywhere. Fuck off." Her eyes narrowed, and she raised her hands to sign something else. I turned my attention back to my book. At least I had one fun thing about being deaf—I could easily ignore people.
My chair tipped backward, and I blinked up at the ceiling in surprise. Sam stood beside me, her eyes still narrowed. Still dazed from my head hitting the floor, I couldn't look away in time to ignore her signing. "We are going out, and you're going to have fun, damn it."
I really, really hated this girl.
Author's Note: You know… I have nothing to say right now.
Disclaimer: I'm only going to say this once, so listen well: I don't own Danny Phantom. There, happy?