Rock Candy Kisses(3)

By: Addison Moore

The handsome boy appears to be having a lively conversation with me as I wave a quick goodbye. This is usually the part when I pull out my phone and let them see my standby note I’ve shown at least fifty people since arriving two weeks ago—the one that more or less reads, I’m sorry—I’m deaf, and I can’t hear whatever the hell you’re saying. In reality, it starts with an apology and ends with an explanation of what it means to be deaf. People are generally stymied by the fact I can’t hear because to them I look average in every other way. The thing about being deaf is no one really wants to believe you for the first few minutes. Some days I’d rather not believe it myself.

He pulls me back gently as I try to make my way past him, and the soft scent of his spiced cologne washes over me in a warm heated wave, orange and mint. His eyes squint out a smile all their own as his bowed lips expand for me with kindness. My stomach gives a hard pinch followed by a detonation of heat I’ve yet to feel before. Whoever this boy—man—man-boy is, he’s got my full anatomical attention. Funny because that’s never really happened before.

“What’s your name?” His lips are full, the bottom more so than the top. They look softer than that of most men’s, and, oddly, I’d like to lose myself staring at them all day.

The bodies have all but cleared off campus, a good sign that I’m already late to class. I shake my head and point to the English building before bolting out of his grasp. My heart pounds so fast it pulsates right through my skull. Adrenaline shoots through me as if I’ve just conducted a prison escape—more like a Grim Reaper escape. That truck could have killed me. Correction, it would have—should have.

I’m starting to think Kaya was right—life is different and scary. That boy’s face comes back like a photograph I’ve unwittingly pinned to my mind, and my lips curve into a smile.

Despite Kaya’s worldly cynicism, I still believe life is beautiful.

* * *

In Sociology I meet my interpreter, the one the university graciously furnished me with, an undergrad like myself. He’s tall and lanky and wears an easy grin.

My name is Jean-Paul, but don’t call me that. He winks as he signs. It’s too French. I’m going by Tristan. John-Paul—Tristan—is a French foreign exchange student who knows American Sign Language (very well might I add). He goes on about how he’s studying to become a professor at a school similar to Quincy in Provence, and how (according to himself) he ironically speaks impeccable English. His mother is profoundly deaf, like me, so he’s been proficient in signing since he was a young boy. He works with the university’s DSP department, Disabilities Services and Programs. Tristan is taking all four of my classes this semester.

I can sign three different languages. He seems stoically proud about this.

That’s nice. I can only sign the one. My face heats when I smile.

I think we should coordinate our schedules as much as we can for the next four years. He signs while the professor takes roll.

Tristan has a calming spirit and boy next door likability to him, and already I want to be his friend. He also plays for the basketball team, which he’s mentioned about a dozen times in the last five minutes. He’s cute in a Muppet sort of way. He has clear blue eyes much like my own and a nice, although thin-lipped and exaggeratingly long smile—thus the Muppet reference.

My thoughts revert to the boy who snatched me from a waiting casket just a few minutes ago, and I envision what it would be like if he were my interpreter for the next four years. A pulsating heat shoots through my stomach. I think I’d have a cardiac episode before lunch. Pretty boys and I have never mixed well. Not that he was a pretty boy, more like a beautiful man. And judging by that tattoo creeping up the side of his neck, a little rugged around the edges.

Tristan gently taps my arm, and I come to.

Four years. I sign back. That’s quite a commitment. I smile. Yes, I guess that would make it easy. I’m a Fine Arts major, though.

That’s perfect. I plan on get my masters in English. You’re welcome to tag along. He gives a little wink, and my chest rattles with a laugh.

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