To say that people treat you different would probably be the biggest fucking understatement of the century. You aren't surprised by it anymore, but it sure as hell pisses you off. What really makes you want to scream is when they start talking reeeeeeeally slooooooowly like your ears don't work perfectly fine.
Or when they start making weird hand motions to accompany their snail-paced vocals, as if pretending they can speak some of your "language", when in actuality they're just making huge fools of themselves.
It all just makes you want to release the most ear-shattering noise you can manage.
But that's the problem.
It didn't matter how hard you tried; how loud you tried to scream, to cry, to beg; how much you strained on the vocal cords you were convinced didn't exist; how often you prayed to every deity your young mind could imagine; you couldn't speak. Not even so much as utter a sound.
You hated every minute of it. Why wouldn't you? It wasn't fair. Everyone else could speak normally; hell, even the deaf kids could at least make noise. But then there was you- the weird kid, the odd one out. It was the same everywhere, even at home. Bro always did his best, of course. He would alternate between signing and speaking, and was your main source for learning new profanities. He was never very fluent at sign language, but he always used it whenever you requested it, or were feeling lonely.
Outside of your close family- including your Aunt and Cousin Rose- there weren't too many people who didn't seem to go out of their way to make you feel like you were disabled.
But when you finally reached the brink of insanity, along with the ripe age of 12, you ran into someone who finally changed that.
Literally, actually. You ran into him.
You were out picking up some milk from the little market down the block from your apartment. Neither you or your bro drank much of the stuff, but every so often one of you would pick up a gallon for milkshakes or something, but that's not a crucial element of the story. You were making your way to the back corner of the store, not paying much attention to anything but your feet, and collided with another body in aisle five.
Naturally, he turned, surprised and caught off guard. He was all smiles, despite the fact you ran into him. His hair desperately screamed for a cut and his teeth would probably benefit from a few years of braces.
You mouth the word "sorry" and try to push past him as quickly as possible. He grabs your wrist before you get very far.
"Sorry!" he apologizes as he does so. "I didn't catch that!"
You let out a frustrated sigh and faced him again. You mouth the word again, this time accompanying it with the sign, hoping that he would understand he probably would never 'catch that'.
"Ooooh!" he says, mesmerized by your hands. "You sign!"
You want to congratulate the genius, but he probably wouldn't understand it. Instead you just nod.
"So are you deaf, then? Are you just reading my lips? Should I talk slower? I should talk slower, shouldn't I?"
Your eyes roll on their own accord. You shake your head. Your hearing is just fine and has been tested on more occasions than you would like to admit. You tap your lips a couple of times, trying to indicate your problem.
He stares at you. "...mouth?"
An exasperated breath escapes you. You tap your ears and give him a thumbs up, letting him know they work. You then open your mouth- as if to make a sound- and point inside, shaking your head.
"So you're mute, then."
You cringe a bit, but nod again; you hate that word.
Most people just kind of look at you after they figure that out; they just kind of stare at you, looking for words that won't make the situation awkward. This kid, however, had no trouble finding his next topic of conversation.
"I know some sign language! I can spell out my name! See- they taught us in school!" He holds out his pinky and signs the letter "j", saying the name of the letter as he does so. Then the letter "o". He pauses after that and admits he forgot what the letter "h" looks like.
You show him, hoping he'll hurry up so you can go and get your damn milk.
"Oh yeah!" He mimics your hand and continues on with what he means to be a letter "n". He makes an "a" instead. It's actually a pretty common mistake considering they're so similar- so instead of giving him grief about it, you simply take his hand in yours and move his thumb to the correct position. He laughs and apologizes.
Once again, you nod. You sign him "goodbye"- hoping he'll understand the basic phrase- and turn to leave him for your milk. But as before, he stops you before you can go anywhere. You glare at him the best you can from beneath your shades; he's really starting to get on your nerves. Even if he's not insulting you like most do, he's still treating you differently. Taking a special interest in your disability isn't exactly flattering, especially his handling sign language as if its some kind of game.
He smiles at you apologetically. "Sorry," he says kind of quietly. "But you never told me your name."
Quickly, you sign out the four letters, hoping it'll get him off your back. But the blank look on his face tells you he didn't have enough time to watch and process tells you you went too fast for his poor brain to comprehend. So you sign it once more, this time much slower.
He grins. "It's nice to meet you, then Dave! Hey, do you think you wanna hang out or something sometime? My dad and I just moved here a few weeks ago, so I don't know too many people yet..."
You just shrug and gesture toward the milk, trying to communicate to him that you're in a hurry to leave.
For once, he grasps the meaning of what you're saying. "Oh, okay! Um... I'll see you later maybe?"
You don't give him much of a reply- you just grab what you need and hurry out of the store as quickly as you can manage.
Over the course of the next few weeks, John is forgotten. You never mentioned him to your brother, and he didn't come up much in your thoughts. He was just another person. Just someone else who couldn't understand you. Or at least that's what you thought.
It was a rainy Wednesday afternoon and you needed to get out of the house and away from Bro's weird puppet filming for the day. It hadn't started raining until you were a good mile or so from the apartment and you were without an umbrella. Your hoodie worked for a little while, but after about 15 minutes, it was soaked through. It was at that point that you decided it would be a good idea to head towards home, or at least find an arcade nearby. Really, you were prepared to go just about anywhere as long as it had a roof.
So, head down and hands in your pockets, you walked in the direction you hoped was the shortest way back to your building.
Suddenly, though, the onslaught of rain seems to stop.
You glance up and your eyes are met with the blue irises of another. Almost instantly, you recognize the holder, despite the fact you thought he had been absent from your mind for days.
"Hi, Dave!" John greets you, smile as wide as when you first bumped into him at the market.
You don't reply. Mostly because you can't do anything vocally, but also because your hands are quite comfortable in your pockets, thank you very much. You don't try to shoo him away, though; his umbrella isn't an unwanted gesture.
But he doesn't seem to mind carrying on the conversation on his own. "So," he begins, "where're you going?"
You give in and pull a hand out of your pocket, signing out the individual letters of the word "h-o-m-e", figuring that while he probably wouldn't know the sign for the word, he would at least know the letters.
"You mean 'home'?" he asks, signing out the word with his free hand.
You glance at him curiously, raising an eyebrow high above your shades.
He just laughs a little nervously. "That was right, wasn't it? I've been learning some more since I met you two weeks go! The library had a couple of books on signing and there's a lot of stuff online, so... you can sign if you want to! I probably won't be able to understand everything, but I'll try." John gives you a sheepish smile. "It'll be easier to talk to you that way, right? And you can teach me what I don't know." He's actually serious about this and it makes you a little nervous. There aren't too many people who will make this kind of effort for you and honestly, it's kind of freaking you out.
He continues on. "And um... you never really gave me an answer on hanging out? I mean if you don't want to, it's not that big of a deal, but-"
You pull out your other hand and start signing, cutting him off. "Come home with me," you sign, trying to keep your vocabulary simplistic and your hands moving slow. "We can talk there where it's not raining."
He blinks at you for a second, but then grins, nodding. "Yeah! I think I got most of that..." His eyebrows crease together, as if trying to convince himself that he actually did understand.
You laugh a bit. You can't help it and you don't even really know what's so funny. You cut yourself off quickly, though, clamping a hand over your mouth. If ever you wished you could actually make a sound, it would be a laugh. What you do right now can't really be called a laugh- it's more a breathless sound, almost like you're hyperventilating or something. The only reason people can actually discern your laugh from some sort of an attack is because of how your shoulders shake and that stupid dimple in your cheek- it's visible only when you smile.
But instead of looking at you like a freak, John just kind of laughs with you.
He doesn't know why you were laughing, you don't know why you were laughing.
It's kind of... nice. Even if he still does kind of weird you out.
John follows after you to your building and up the stairs. You do your best to keep him out of Bro's sight, but as you sneak after him into your room, you hear his deep baritone ring down the hallway. "So who's your new boyfriend?"
You kind of push John into your room and march down to the living room where Bro is. He grins at you and you flip him off.
"So who is he?" he asks, not bothering to sign the question.
Angrily, you sign back. "No one. Shut up."
"Well then whoever he is, does he like mac and cheese?"
"I fucking hope so."
"Am I making it now?"
"You bet your sorry ass you are. Dig out that tacky apron of yours and get in the kitchen."
He snorts. "Demanding today, huh?"
You go to head back to your room, but not before you sign in reply, "Shut up. I'm entertaining a guest."
So I forgot I wrote this! I went to go and start writing my next chapter of Pianist on the Subway and noticed I still had this to finish.
I've decided to post what I have as the first chapter, and then I'll post the rest later once I've finished writing!
Leave me a review! C: