Sand like snow, water the color of topaz.
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Gerry lives with her husband and a neurotic Siamese cat in Jackson, Mississippi. The idea stays with me until I can write it down, and then everything flows from there. She has remained steadfast, even through a hailstorm last week, so we should have baby doves soon. A: I have a couple of short stories in the works. I rub his shoulder and kiss his neck.
His name was Daniel Cole. He was a regular guy except that he was deaf. He could read lips, but I had to talk clearly. I mumbled. I rarely looked someone in the eyes for more than five seconds.
'never muted heart'
It bothered me. I was uncomfortable with him always staring at my mouth, afraid that he saw only the gap and not the words. I had developed an early habit of turning my face away to speak. I was shy, self-conscious, like my father. We both mumbled. My mother on the other hand was loud and confident and, like everyone else, never bothered to hear what I had to say.
But then I met Daniel. He was average and forgettable. He was white, a little shorter than me, and wore a Boston Red Sox hat. But when I discovered he was deaf, I scrutinized every detail about him. He was interesting, a creature to be studied.
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He looked young. He had a baby face. He always wore paint-splattered boots and worn, dusty jeans.
His shirt always advertised a New England sports team. Sometimes I would watch him at work. There was another guy he worked with who appeared to be deaf or at least was fluent in sign language. I loved watching them converse. The animated facial expressions, the fluid hand movements, it was like an art. It was different; it was foreign. I was overly nice to him, always smiling and locking eyes so he could understand me when I spoke. I also wanted him to see that I was not as mean as I appeared. The furrowed brows, the frown—that was my neutral face.
My fake cheery voice was lost on him. He saw only my smiles and bright eyes. He was the one customer I acted kindly towards. I gave him pity, as if he needed it. I hesitated, unsure if he was serious. I used to believe that no guys liked me, and so I never played with them like other girls did. Once, in sixth grade, a boy I liked had sent me a note in class.
He knew I had a crush because he caught me staring at him. I did not understand the game, and it hurt me. Maybe he thought I said it as confidently as he might have. It was a quiet night.
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There was one other table of people across the room. We were seated at a booth and the high booth backs secluded us. Got a pesky leak? And I had no idea what to talk about. We sat in silence for a while. He had ordered a beer and he was gripping the pint glass. He stared at the beer and then at me. He smiled and was silent. But I continued.
He laughed and reached across the table to pat my hand. His hand was cool and moist. I asked him if he was born deaf. He said he was and that his parents were also deaf. He smiled at this. He was proud of this hereditary deafness. When our food came, he devoured his burger in a matter of minutes while I picked at my quiche. He looked up from his plate and watched me eat as he ate his fries one at a time, chewing each one slowly. I can feel the bass. I nodded and took a bite of my quiche.
But I like to read mostly.
How about you? Do you like to read? He showed no sign of understanding. Then I realized I had been talking with my head down, talking to my plate. I looked down at my placemat. I remembered to look up. Communicating with Daniel was easier than I thought it would be.
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He was great at reading lips. And when we had a hard time understanding each other, we wrote in a notebook. He gave me so much attention, and I talked more with him than anyone else. My husband narrows his eyes. He was the only person who really listened to me. He was the only person who forced things out of me, pushed me to my limits.
He asked me questions and compelled me to be honest in my answers. Silence kills some people but what did that matter to Daniel, for that was all he knew. His roommate, who was also deaf, was home. Daniel introduced us, then his roommate disappeared into another room. We sat at the kitchen table across from each other. Sometimes, we would spend hours just staring at each other or touching. We would have a day only of sight and touch.
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