Flashes of Lighting and the Smell of Rain
Pitch dark filled the sky as she walked home from yet another miserable night. In her world, there was no such other kind. Maybe some nights were a little less painful, but they all ended the same way; her feeling broken and belonging nowhere and to absolutely no one. To be honest, she was exhausted of playing pretend. Oh, look everybody! Look how happy we are! She grimaced at her fake family's pretend image of wholesome and happy, like they were the freakin' Waltons or something. But the Kennishes were far from perfect and they certainly never made nightly declarations of love. There was no "Goodnight, Bay!" If anything, it was more "Go away, Bay."
It made her want to scream. These are our biological children, Daphne and Toby, and Bay is adopted. Bay is adopted. It sounded like they picked her up at the pound. And then the other families would act like good 'ole J&K did some marvelous deed, something worthy of allowing them straight into the Gates of Heaven without any provocation. That poor child, they would say, you two are such wonderful people for allowing her to stay with you. That woman had no business raising a child, let alone yours. And East Riverside of all places! What kind of a life could she possibly have there? It's full of delinquents. Of course to the sycophants in Mission Hills there was nothing more horrible than a family who wasn't in the highest tax bracket.
And the worst part, it wasn't just strangers. She could handle it if it was; their disapproving looks, their pity. What she couldn't handle was her own grandmother acting as though she had just stepped off of a UFO. Yep. Alien Bay reporting to Planet Earth. I'm surprised Bay is doing so well in school what with her background. Clearly Bay was meant to be a bum due to her ethnicity. She just wanted out. Why was that so hard for her to accomplish? It's not like it was hard for her to maintain a 3.8 GPA. But finding a way out of Mission Hills seemed like it would never happen.
Her world was filled with such hypocrisy. For example, Daphne and her being sisters was such bullshit. Daphne didn't give a rat's ass about Bay. She took her to that ridiculous frat party and ditched her as if she was something akin to a wet rag in less than a minute. Why do you always have to be the weird downer girl? rang in her head. Weird downer girl, eh? She wasn't surprised. It wasn't as though she put forth the effort to get people to like her, especially people at Buckner. Whys should she? There was nothing of substance that place could offer; just a bunch of rich snobs focusing on where the latest party would be or who was getting humped and dumped next. What a waste of a good education. And then calling her out for having a shrink? Please. Like Daphne knew anything about a secure psyche. Bay was right; Daphne was the most miserable person she knew.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't even really hear the motorcycle until it appeared before her. When the mystery man took off his helmet, Bay had to admit he was a looker. Kind of like a young James Dean. Maybe she should have been more put off and frightened that this guy had approached her out of the blue, but she felt safe. She couldn't explain it. It was almost as if she knew him from somewhere. To be honest, Bay knew boys as well as she knew how to play beer pong or do a beer bong or whatever the hell it was called. There had been one boy who she liked and they had kissed, but after that, shock of all shocks, his attention went elsewhere.
Not that she cared. She wanted to go to a good college miles away from Kansas, with no Toto in tow. She'd meet someone at school. She was sure of that, but for now, it was better for her to be alone. Nobody else would get it, would get her anyway, so what was the use of wanting or trying? Motorcycle boy started to gesture with his hands, not speaking orally. Bay tried to figure out what he was getting at.
"I shouldn't be walking here," she states. Then she asks "Are you Deaf?" but she ends up making the sign for crazy.
Motorcycle boy jots something down on his iPhone. It reads: That's the sign for crazy. I'm not crazy.
She laughs. "Well, that's a relief."
He starts to sign again leaving Bay to interpret. "This place bad. Ride home." She pauses for a second. He wants to give me a ride home? Why? She wondered if secretly Daphne had paid this guy to come and humiliate her. Wouldn't be the first time; however, she can't stop herself from smiling a bit, both externally and internally.
"No, thank you."
Motorcycle boy (she figures eventually she'll have to get his name) asks if she's okay. Ha! You have about ten years' worth of time to listen to how okay I'm not? she wants to ask, but she figures if Deaf James Dean is really interested she probably shouldn't scare him away with all the gruesome details. She goes with the lesser version of tonight's evils.
"No, actually I'm not. I've had a really crappy night. I don't fit it anywhere; not at home, not at school, and now I'm rambling to some hot Deaf guy who's probably going to dismember me and throw me into a shallow grave."
Motorcycle boy signed something again.
"Not dismember me." Bay smiled "And now I know you can read lips." He reached behind him and pulled out the spare helmet he had. What the hell, Kennish? she thinks. She's never done an impulsive thing in her life. Maybe it's time for a little adventure. After all, who knows where this could lead?
"What the hell," she says this time out loud "I live in Mission Hills."
Motorcycle boy gives her the thumbs up and she gets on the back of his motorcycle. Not knowing where to place her hands, she tentatively puts them on his shoulders, but he quickly rectifies that mistake and wraps them around his waist. "Better safe than sorry, I guess."
The ride home isn't long, but it's long enough for Bay to feel changed. For the first time ever, she feels alive. She marvels at the concept of someone you have just met impacting your life in ways you could have never imagined. Bay knows she's silly for feeling this way. After all, she literally just met him. It's hard to explain. For the longest time she was the "Don't do anything until you're 100 percent certain" gal. Don't hand in your chemistry lab without double checking it; don't exclaim your English paper on Shakespeare is an A before you spell check and read it over a few thousand times. Every decision must be made conclusively based on the theory of beyond a shadow of a doubt. Yet her body (and heart) was screaming she didn't need to do any experiment. There was no formula to calculate the compatibility or even how much sense a connection made. It was there. It was real. Their meeting was fated.
As he pulls into her driveway she is hit with the realization that she doesn't want to get off. Feeling this close to somebody, to him, she stops remembering what her life was like before. Skeptical, she leafs through her internal memories like a notebook trying to determine if there was even a life worth living before. Maybe some semblance of one, maybe something that resembled a life, but not one that made you jump for joy in the morning. And if life doesn't hold that appeal, if there is nothing to make you feel connected to this world, then what is the purpose of it all? Perhaps she shouldn't be waxing philosophical on the back of his bike though, so she hops off reluctantly, unwilling to relinquish this newfound sense of belonging and kismet.
"Well, thank you."
Emmett – before getting her home he made sure to pull over and inform her of his name – signed thank you so she would know the correct sign. She signed it back while speaking "thank you."
Her art studio caught his eye. He signed paint. "Oh yeah, I paint." He was signing something else, it looked like a camera. "Photography." And he was an artist? Score two for the weird downer girl! Take that, Daphne. A hot guy gave her a ride home on his awesome bike and he was an artist.
She desperately wanted to see him again.
"Well, tomorrow you could come back here and I could show you some of my paintings and you could show me some of your photography."
He smiled and signed something she couldn't quite make out, but there was a genuine look of happiness on his face. She pondered briefly if he could possibly be feeling a fraction of what she was feeling or if it was possible she was making it up entirely in her head.
"I'm assuming that's a yes?" He signed Yes which she replicated.
He put his helmet back on and drove off into the night, which suddenly didn't seem so dark to Bay anymore.
"Yes!" she said to herself.
It was remarkable that an hour ago her exhaustion had taken over and now it was as if she had just slept a full ten hours. All she could think about while walking home was getting into her bed, listening to some Toby Lightman, and shutting the world completely out, a routine she was pretty much an expert in. Now there was nothing that appealed less to her than sleep. Going to her room her laptop was her destination. Google. Sign language. As she wandered around the illusive World Wide Web memorizing some basic signs, she realized how beautiful a language it was. In fact, she had become so immersed in it she had failed to take notice of the sunrise. It was five am. Putting her laptop away, she curled into bed, this time having a real reason to dream and be hopeful. Emmett would be coming over later today.