Rock Candy Kisses(4)

By: Addison Moore

Silent laughter is something I had to learn to perfect. Speaking isn’t something I prefer to do. Most of my profoundly deaf friends have broken out of their lingual shells and speak freely, but, despite years of speech therapy, I haven’t had the best experiences with my vocal cords, so I prefer to mute them whenever possible—which is pretty much always. When I was little I would ask my brothers to describe the sound things would make, the slam of a door, the babble of a brook, and soon they made a game of trying to describe any and every sound on the planet to me. Of course, the descriptions were rife with emotion because that’s about as close as I could relate them. There was angry thunder, happy trees as the wind rustled through their branches, surprised doorbells, and the trash trucks that drove down our streets at early hours were always described as tired. Ironic since those were the very things that would wake my brothers an hour earlier than necessary on Thursdays, leaving my mother with a very tired Bryson and Holt. I, on the other hand, slept like a log. Still do. It’s my only talent, really.

Class moves all too fast for me. Tristan decides to take copious notes before shooting them to my laptop immediately. Whenever the professor says something he deems witty, Tristan is kind enough to sign it for me.

By the end of the class, I’m taxed from both the novel experience and Tristan’s incessant self-monologue. In one short hour I’ve become proficient in all things Tristan, his birth name being just the tip of the French iceberg. I now know he has three sisters, all of which are enrolled in fashion school. I know he’s bred hamsters for the last three years as a part of his horticulture and animals club which sounds a lot like 4-H.

By the time our final class of the day rolls around, Digital Studios, I’m exhausted both emotionally and physically.

I think my brain actually hurts, I sign as we take seats near the front. It’s a small class with only about twenty students, something far more my style compared to the stadium seating lecture halls we’ve endured. English 101 already has me cagey because I’m terrified of writing papers.

You’re just overwhelmed. Tristan pats me on the knee, and instinctively I pull my legs in. Sorry.

No, it’s fine. I’m just jumpy today. I sort of got off to a rocky start when I narrowly escaped my true destiny as road kill, but I leave that part out. That boy with the calming marble eyes comes back to me. I lean into my seat and sigh into the memory. His orange scented cologne still clings faintly to my sweater as I push my nose into my shoulder.

A tall girl wearing an expensive leather jacket and buttery boots that creep up her inky denim jeans saunters in. She’s beautiful, like cover model perfection with bouncy blonde curls, patriotic red lips that glide over her paper-white smile. Instinctively my stomach turns. That’s the kind of girl the boy with the marbled eyes would go for—the kind he most likely belongs with. Kaya once broke dating down into leagues, and, plain and simple, I’m not even on his playing field—but Ms. Red, White, and Blue Jeans is by a landslide. The girl next to her looks equally gorgeous with darker hair and eyes—the same I’ve-got-the-world-by-my-father’s-Master Card smile. I’ve noticed girls like that travel in packs around campus. Back at Quincy there weren’t really any social cliques or barriers besides the obvious, and when we were together we hardly noticed that one.

Ms. America One and Ms. America Two scoot into our row and both Tristan and I pull our legs in to accommodate them. One of them holds the scent of an overbearing perfume about as subtle as frankincense and myrrh. I make a face at Tristan, but he seems momentarily entranced by the volleyballs expanding from their sweaters. Figures. It’s a man’s world until a D cup shows up and debilitates the masses.

He doesn’t hesitate starting up a conversation with the tall one.

“She’s deaf.” I see his lips form the words, and my face floods with heat. I am deaf, but I’m also allergic to labels. Kaya wears her hearing loss like a badge, but I’m not so eager to flaunt the stones God placed in my ears to the rest of the world.

The girls take their seats before he leans in and signs. They asked how we were enjoying our first day.

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