Emmett in Silence
I turned around, and everything was quiet.
No, really quiet.
I couldn't hear.
I looked across the wide room, and the same activity bustled: Edward and Jasper were playing chess, grunting casually at each other; Alice was painting her toenails and humming tunelessly to herself; Bella was chatting to Renesmee in Rose's arms; Carlisle was relating the news from the hospital, looking deeply into Esme's eyes.
Nothing had changed, except I couldn't hear any of it. It was like watching a movie with the sound turned down. No, it was worse. There were no voices, no creaks of the house settling, no crickets in the field, no telltale heartbeat from Renesmee thrumming lightly in the background. My family was the same, the scene was the same, everything was the same – but silent.
"Hey!" I yelled, my eyes popping as I leapt to my feet. Seven heads swirled in my direction, surprised and curious. "What happened? What's going on?" I felt like a jerk, shouting in my own house. Rose's lips began to move as she handed Renesmee to Bella.
"What?" I'm sure my volume was off. Everyone was sort of cringing - I suppose I was shouting – but I couldn't hear myself, either. That was scary. That's when it hit me. "I think I've gone deaf, you guys."
Edward was suddenly right next to me, and I could tell he was listening to my mind. He said something to Carlisle and Carlisle's eyes went wide. Edward turned back to me and spoke slowly, making gestures. He pointed to his head, then his ear. He pointed to my head, then, with his palm flat facing the ground, he pulled his hand across his body, indicating nothing. He couldn't hear my mind.
"I don't know what happened. I was fine and then phhttt – nothing!" When Esme winced, I tried to lower my voice. "Sorry, I can't hear anything, so I can't tell how loud I'm speaking."
I saw Edward look to my right and I noticed Rose standing next to me. I could tell she was saying my name by the way her lips moved; I'd seen her say my name so many times that the motion was familiar to me, even if I couldn't hear her. She was upset.
"Rose, it's okay. I'm okay. I just don't hear –" she was talking again, but I couldn't make anything out until she said my name again. She grabbed my arms, and began to shake me.
I knew it was serious, but my little Rose shaking my arms, shaking me, almost made me bust up. Carlisle was pulling her away, which was good, because I wasn't sure I could keep a straight face if she kept that up. That would have been bad, to laugh when she was so upset. When everybody was so upset.
Two days have passed and still as quiet as the grave in this old head of mine. Carlisle and Edward are looking for sudden deafness in the medical books. The problem is that everything they find would be cured by the venom, so nothing seems to fit. It's a good thing I can still read, otherwise I'd have to learn to lip-read and that seems, well, like a drag.
Hunting was weird. I can still smell the blood, but all the sounds that gave location away are gone. It was tough at first, but I'll get used to it.
I think Rose is more upset than I am. She isn't trying to talk at all when I'm around; instead she's just carrying a little pad of paper and writing things out to me. That's cool, except every once in a while, I see her talking to someone else and as soon as she sees me watching, she stops. That isn't my Rosie. She never held her tongue in all her years.
Edward, Bella and Renesmee are coping the best. Edward's gotten really good with the hand signals, which is so Edward. Bella's good with just hanging with me, not talking much anyway. I bet she'd love to tease me about this, but she can't figure out how to do it. I give her two weeks before she finds a way without having to write it down. Renesmee keeps showing me her pictures, so with her it's as if nothing really changed. She's getting so big; I wonder how long before she branches out on her own.
Which brings me to Jacob and the pack. Man, what a relief not to hear their sorry whining and howling. Too bad I lost my hearing and not my sense of smell.
Most of this doesn't really bother me. There are some things I miss, sure, but why cry about that? It isn't that bad.
I do miss Rosalie's voice. In fact, I miss Rosalie. I wish she could adapt to this quicker, but I know my woman. She'll come round.
Sure, there were some rough times. Over the last couple years, there have been a handful of times when I missed hearing it all: Renesmee's goodbye as she left the family to start a life with Jake; the applause when Carlisle was recognized for his work with deaf kids at the hospital; Alice's gasp when Bella emptied her closet of everything lacey… those would have been better with sound.
And Rosie's voice every time we made love. That was the hardest.
But there are things I gained, too.
My brother's histrionics whenever he plays a new song for me. I can feel the vibrations, but his gestures and facial contortions are priceless. I know he's doing it just for me, and you got to love the guy for that.
Jasper and I are better brothers now, too. We always got along, but now, well, I think there's more kinship now that I'm sort of on the outside. He's more comfortable with me. And it doesn't take us much to communicate; he's surprisingly expressive when he needs to be. Words aren't necessary.
I still wonder why it all happened.
I've found that there are times when I can feel the sounds around me. It's almost better than being able to hear. I don't have to worry about volume, or someone hearing me. I've gotten used to taking little hikes to find My Moments, and I usually go alone.
Edward showed me how.
One day when we were out running, he came up in front of me and motioned for me to stop. I swung my head from side to side, looking – I hadn't seen anyone, but I thought he might have heard something.
When he saw my confusion, he smiled softly and shook his head. He looked down at his feet, hidden in the tall grass of the field where we'd stopped.
He looked up at me and sat down, laid back and stretched his arms and legs out so he was spread eagle. I thought he'd lost his mind. But as the breeze blew the grass around him, he raised his hand to his chest, and gestured upward to his face in the direction of the wind. He did this several times, his head back, eyes closed, a little smile on his face.
He sat up and hung his arms over his bent knees. He looked up at me and smiled, then pointed to his ear as he laid back down and made the same motion.
He sat up again and pointed at me, arching his brow in question. "Nah," I said and dismissed him with a gesture.
He stood up and grabbed me by the biceps to get my attention. He looked into my eyes and with his head tipped toward mine, mouthed, "Try it."
I could tell he was serious.
He let myself sink down in the tall grass. Edward stood over me and stretched his arms out, willing me to do the same. I rolled my eyes and spread out my arms and legs. He gestured to me to close my eyes, and so I did.
I felt like an idiot for a minute, and started to get up, when I felt his foot my chest. I looked up at him, and that anxious, worried look he gets told me to go along with this little experiment.
After a few minutes, I felt as if I was feeling the wind whoosh over me. I felt the grass susurrate and brush my skin. I felt the sound of the grass, the breeze, the world rushing by.
I opened my eyes and smiled. Edward looked triumphant and laid down next to me.
When we got back to the house, he wrote me a note.
Emmett, you can do that with all kinds of things. You already know how to feel my music; you just need to learn to feel the song of the world. Those are your moments.
I went for a walk today and came to that little trill in the river, where the water's shallow and fast. With the family in the city today, it seemed like the perfect time to have My Moment.
I took off my clothes and laid down in the water. I felt the water splash and gurgle over and around me; I felt the little rivulets spatter and dash into the river rocks making up my perch. I don't know how long I laid there. I watched the clouds drift by and felt at peace and calm with the world.
After what seemed like a few hours, I got up and walked over to my clothes. I pulled on my pants, and leaned down to pick up my shirt, and a thunderous boom ripped through my calm, quiet world.
Suddenly, there were horns blaring and screeching as a flock of terns flew overhead. A harsh, shrill drumming thickened the air and a flood of bubble, burble, babble swirled around my head. I clapped my hands over my ears, and began to run back to the house. A loud, shrill piercing cry seemed to follow me as I ran, and it wasn't until I was back at the house that I realized – I was screaming.
I sat in the chair, waiting for everyone to come home. My breaths were in ragged gasps – noisy, ragged gasps.
I heard the cars on the gravel as they turned onto the drive and I began noisily gulping the air around me. The doors slammed; casual conversation wafted into the house.
"Emmett, what's wrong?" Rosalie shouted as she saw me sitting in the chair, my face a mask of horror. I threw my hands to my ears and winced, pulling my head down to my knees.
Edward said softly, with awe, "Emmett can hear again."
I don't know why.
I don't know how.
All I know, is that on November 3, 2009, sound returned to me, and I felt a loss greater than I could say.
- In loving memory of Marti LoMonaco, my sister and friend.