Rock Candy Kisses

By: Addison Moore

Prologue





I wish I could say that being born profoundly deaf hasn’t shaped my life, that it hadn’t forged my heart to favor deaf culture in a hearing world, but it did both those things—after all, after the light of honesty is shed, it was inevitable. But my craving to fit in still lingered, that too was inevitable. When I was seven I sat in the school auditorium with my class and the interpreter my parents hired to shadow me. There was a group of high school students improvising on stage, a comedy—a tragedy if you ask me. One of them came over to where I was sitting. He mimicked my interpreter and brought down the house with laughter. I was devastated. I couldn’t understand why all of my friends, the entire school, would think that was funny. There was only one person in that room that wasn’t laughing, and it was me. It didn’t take long for my parents to move me to the Quincy School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I was filled with relief. Dorm life was heavenly. Aside from our education, we played sports, board games, held book clubs, and curled up in the common room to watch closed-captioned TV. I made great friendships there, solid as iron. And having those people in my life is the sole reason I wouldn’t trade how I was born for anything.

But I’m not seven anymore. I’m nineteen. I’m not at Quincy. I’m at Whitney Briggs University. Life is different, but then I knew it would be—although not for reasons you might think.

It’s different because I met Him.





Whitney Briggs University





Annie





Fall is my favorite time of year. The riot of color that nature displays leaves me breathless. Cool winds replace the scorching sun as the landscape transforms into a spectrum of crimson and gold. It’s a visual feast that I wait three whole seasons to gorge on.

Baya and Bryson are busy with a conversation of their own as they enthusiastically walk me through campus like a kindergartner they’re escorting to the first day of school. It’s technically not my first day at Whitney Briggs University. I moved into my dorm weeks ago. I’ve spent the interim getting to know the grounds with my roommate, Marley, but my brother and his new wife feel the need to walk me directly to the door of my sociology class. Baya and Bryson recently married this past summer in a double wedding with their best friends, Laney and Ryder. I love them with all my heart, but I can’t help but feel like a child under their wings. It’s not like I wasn’t warned. When my friends heard I was coming to Whitney Briggs, they frowned at the fact my brother and Baya were within hovering distance. Usually living so close wouldn’t be a big deal, but everyone at the Quincy School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing understands all too well how stifling family can unwittingly be.

Bryson picks up my hand—case in point. I try to wriggle free, but he clasps on tight as if saving me from falling into a bottomless pit. Crowds of girls waltz by, each one of them tossing their slanted stares to my brother. I’m sure Baya is used to having strange girls ogle her new husband. Both of my brothers are handsome and far too protective of their little sister than they need to be.

The girls pause their animated gestures a moment as their heads swivel after Bryson. Their sweet perfume mingles with the scent of new clothes—and I note that not one of them is holding their brother’s hand. I pause, pulling him back and wait for Baya to stumble over.

“What’s wrong?” The terror on her face says it all. Baya is beautiful, and bubbly, and I’m thrilled to pieces that she’s my new sister-in-law but…

I shake my head to assure her nothing is off kilter.

There’s a literal fork in the cobbled road, and I’m pretty sure this is as good a place as any to break it to them.

I’ve got it from here, I sign. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think there’s something symbolic about me getting to class on my own. I’ve looked forward to this moment for as long as I can remember, and—well, I want to do this myself.

The hurt look on my brother’s face says more than I can stand. A cool breeze whips by and ices my bare ankles.

Bryson sags into me while a dull grin breaks loose on his face. He signs back, I know you’ve got this, kid. “She wants to head out on her own,” he says to Baya before pulling me into a tight embrace.

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