The Sound of Silence

You know when you have that day where you wake up pissed off at the world, then you stub your toe getting into the shower, then you find that there's no milk in the fridge, and when you pick up your mail and it's all bills? That was my morning, and it was sure to get worse because I had a ton of errands to run before work.

Being a college graduate with a teaching degree you can't use because of a hiring freeze is like waiting in a crack. I had to work as a bartender to make ends meet between short substitute teaching jobs, and was forced to let my messy best friend Pam move in with me so I didn't have to move back home.

Shreveport wasn't so bad. It was big enough and busy enough that I didn't feel like I was stuck in the past like I did living in my hometown, Bon Temps. My Gran still lived there, and I visited as often as I could, but mostly left my brother to check in on her when he could.

Before I left the house, I pulled out my computer and went to my online banking site to take care of my half of the bills. I left a note for Pam, who was still sleeping, letting her know where I was going and when I would be back. The envelopes with the paid bills went into the desk drawer, and then I was out the door.

First stop was the dry cleaners to get Pam's one designer dress that she had to have dry cleaned, even if she only wore it for a couple of hours. That was quick and easy, even though the employee was talking on her cell phone the entire time I was there.

Next stop was the high school to pick up my check from my last sub job. It wasn't much money, but every little bit helped. The secretary was a snippy older woman, and she acted like she was doing me a life service by pulling my check out of a pile and handing it over. Bitch. After that I headed to the local bookstore to find the next one on my reading list since I'd finished the previous one the night before.

That was when my day got better. As soon as I walked in the door I saw this handsome, young (my age) employee stocking books. He looked up and saw me just as I came through the door, and he smiled before getting back to his job. That smile was the piece of human kindness I'd been sorely missing all day, and it instantly lifted my spirits.

It was with a slight spring in my step that I went off in search of the book, only when I got to the right section, I found that the particular book I needed wasn't stocked. I groaned in frustration, and when I turned to look for an employee I saw the smiling guy had just opened a new box and was stocking books just up the aisle. Since he didn't seem like a self-absorbed bitch, I figured he was the right employee to ask.

I walked towards him, and said softly, "Excuse me?"

He didn't answer.

I cleared my throat, and spoke a little louder, "Excuse me, sir, I need a little help."

No answer. Not even an acknowledgement that he'd heard me. He just kept pulling books from the box, and putting them on the shelf.

Okay then, maybe human kindness just wasn't in the stars today. I tried once more to get his attention, and then I just snapped. I tapped on his shoulder, and he turned and smiled down at me from his great height, with his beautiful eyes, and … No, nope … I was pissed off.

"You have some nerve," I said, holding my finger out in front of my face like I was scolding a child. "I've had it with rude people today! What does a girl, no, a human being have to do to get treated like they're not ruining your day just for existing?"

The extremely confused look on his face should have been enough to get me to stop, but I just couldn't. I was talking fast, and gesturing wildly, and his confused look got worse and worse. He was even staring right at my lips instead of into my eyes like a normal person, which pissed me off as well, so I finally just took a deep breath before I got really dramatic and slapped the poor guy.

"I just needed to know if you had this one book in stock, but it's obviously too much to ask, so I'll just go somewhere else," I snipped, and walked past him.

He didn't say a word, but two seconds later I felt someone tapping on my shoulder and turned around to see the man looking frantic and making motions for me to hold on a second. He dug into his pants pocket and pulled out a little steno notepad and pencil, scribbled something down for a minute then handed it to me.

My stomach jumped into my throat when I read what was written there.

I'm so sorry, I didn't hear you. I'm deaf, but I read lips. I can help. My name is Eric.

"Oh," I said, and that was about all I could say.

A/N: I haven't tried the whole posting as I go thing in a while, but I'm going to give it a go again. I hope you'll all stick with me and let me know what you think. And if you have any insight regarding deaf/mute people, please don't hesitate to share. My PM's are always open :) This is unbeta'd, but big, huge thanks to my beta FarDareisMai2 for the awesome brainstorming, and also to Lubadub for her info and research skills regarding teachers. And to ChanelAddict, MissusT, and makesmyheadspin for encouraging me!