Rock Candy Kisses(2)

By: Addison Moore

I can read pretty much anyone’s lips. It takes some getting used to at first, but, after a while, it can be just as efficient as signing. There are a few people with whom I can’t quite catch every word. But, with the exception of the occasional mumbler, I get by pretty well.

Baya pulls me in, and I can feel her throat vibrating against my shoulder. It’s easy for people to forget that if I can’t see their lips, I don’t know what they’re saying. I pull back and dot my mouth with my finger.

“Sorry!” She grimaces. “Are you coming to the bar tonight?” Baya has a tendency to over annunciate, and that’s fine by me. In reality it makes things easier, but I’d rather she didn’t. I don’t want to be treated any different than she treats Laney or Izzy, or anyone else for that matter.

I nod and give a thumbs up. Apparently the first day of school is a pretty big deal at the Black Bear. There’s a local band performing tonight, plus the student body gets half off all drinks. My brothers and I bought out my father’s three bars last summer, the Black Bear being one of them. Despite the fact I’ve just turned nineteen and don’t make a habit of downing alcohol-laden libations, it’s pretty amazing to be business partners with my brothers.

Bryson and Baya each offer an insecure wave as they take off. They both hold the same coloring, and from here they look as if they can be brother and sister as easy as they can be husband and wife. It’s a weird thought, but oddly enough I specialize in weird thoughts. I suppose that’s a side effect of years of living in my own bubble. That was the nice thing about Quincy, while I was at school I was never alone in that bubble.

Bryson signs for me to text him as I head on my way.

The wind picks up, and a maple rattles its already yellowing leaves. The earth lets go of its raw, wet scent from last night’s rain, and I take in the robustness of nature at its ripest. For the last eight years of my life, I’ve been a fulltime resident at the Quincy school for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, nothing but a saturation of deaf culture and a shared sense of self with every single person that surrounded me there. And, here, at Whitney Briggs I’m pretty much alone with everyday people who have never known a world without sound, a world with hard borders much like that of a picture.

An overgrown oak sits stoically in front of the English building with its fat, hand-shaped leaves dripping magenta and ruby. My fingers dip into my purse as I feel for my camera. I’m certain my favorite course of the day will be my final class, Digital Studios. I’ve loved photography ever since I was seven, and my parents, a.k.a. Santa, gifted me a hot pink Barbie camera.

A skateboard whizzes in my direction, and I carefully maneuver into the center of the walkway. A group of girls hurry by, and one of them knocks into my shoulder. She gives a polite wave, and I can see her lips curving into an apology before turning away.

Kaya, my best friend at Quincy, warned me that life is very different (I believe the word she used was scary) out in what she’s dubbed the real world. She’s at Texas A & M, apparently having her fair share of scary experiences. I fish my phone out to send her a quick text. Life is beautiful. Nothing scary at Whitney Briggs! It’s not too late to apply for spring semester. Before I can hit send, a body lunges at me and whisks me into an overgrown dogwood. My phone flies right out of my hand, and, just as I’m about to dive after it, a squared off delivery truck whizzes by, missing me by inches.

My heart pounds wild in my chest. My head throbs and pulsates, threatening to explode as I take in what just happened.

I glance at the person who pulled me to safety—a boy, older by a few years, handsome to the point of nausea. He’s saying something, his face filled with concern. His dark hair lies over his head like a shadow, his brown eyes are marbled with shades of emerald, and a part of me wants to freeze time and stay here all day. At least that way I won’t have to face the fact I almost found myself pinned under a tire.

A mean shudder ripples through me at the thought.

Oh, God. I have to get out of here. I pull my book bag off the ground and scramble for my phone nearly getting my hand run over by a bicycle. Wow, I’m really on fire today. I’ll have to do a roll call of my limbs if I ever get back to my dorm in one piece. My body spikes with heat. I can practically feel my mother panicking when I fill her in on my first day of misadventures, not that I plan on sharing this tidbit with her. All I need is another lecture on how beneficial the Excel Implant will be. I understand the fact that hearing is valuable, but all I see is red (as in blood) whenever I envision myself on that operating table. It’s enough to make me want to pass out on the spot and inadvertently feed myself to the tire gods.

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