“Lynn! There you are! I have so much to tell you!” I sign at the little camera in my iPhone, mentally begging for the Wi-Fi connection to not fail on my phone, just like it has on my laptop. I tell Lynn everything that happened after the last time I spoke to her.
“Oh my god I’m so happy for you! You’re finally dating Ashton!” She signs faster than lightning with a huge smile on her face.
“Lynn… we’re not dating though?” I carefully respond.
“What do you mean you’re not dating?” And by the way her facial expressions harden I can tell that this is slightly starting to annoy her.
“We kissed once and now we’re going on a date. That doesn’t mean he’s my boyfriend though.”
“Why not? You guys obviously love each other.” She states.
“Well, that’s the thing, he doesn’t love me and neither do I love-”
“Then why the fuck are you going on a date with him?” she interrupts harshly.
“Because I’m trying. We’re both trying.” I reply. Why doesn’t she get it?
“Try? You’re trying? Why would you even have to try? You’re soulmates! Soulmate love is easy, you’re perfect for each other, there’s no one that could possibly be a better match to you.” She rapidly signs.
“But it’s just not that easy. I’m just not in love, he’s not in love, but we’re both trying to figure out the whole soulmate thing. We’re trying to understand how this works and how to maybe even eventually love each other.” I try to explain to her.
Wrong thing to tell her.
“Then he’s just not your perfect match, is he? If you have to force yourself to love him, heck, even force yourself to tolerate him then it’s not real, is it?” She stubbornly signs.
That felt like a punch in the gut. Ashton is supposed to be my soulmate, right? Timers can’t possibly be wrong, can they? Ashton annoys me, he is a lot to have to deal with. He makes me insecure about my deafness and we fight, but no matter how much I hate him sometimes, he doesn’t make me feel miserable. Weirdly enough, I’m happy in this strange, contradicting non-romantic relationship we’ve created for ourselves, where we’re kind of friends, but we kind of cuddle and go and dates too sometimes.
“I’m happy, Lynn. I’m happy with whatever this is we are, I don’t need more feelings or a special name to call him. I like the terms we are on right now and maybe you should try a little harder to accept this.”
Let’s just say the conversation didn’t end very well, Lynn and I never got into arguments, so to end a conversation without jokes and ‘I love you’s is just weird. She even lied about having to start her shift at work, even though she doesn’t start her shift in another hour. I know she knows that I know that, but she still tries to use it as an excuse.
And I kind of just let her go, arguments are not our thing, this will all blow over.
In an attempt to lighten up my mood I Skype call the laptop at home, to my surprise Mum answers the call and walks away immediately, leaving little Eliot in front of the webcam. Gosh, I haven’t seen him in so long, I get slightly teary eyed as I wave at him. I can tell he must be giggling like a little cutie while looking at the screen.
“Hi Eliot, how are you, honey?” I sign at him.
And his lips start moving, I stare at the screen, not believing what I’m seeing. Never ever, have I seen Eliot only speak in my presence, he always signs. Hurt, is the only thing that comes to mind right now. Eliot was the only person that has never spoken to me before, my parents do it sometimes, because speaking comes more natural to them, Lynn used to do it a lot when she was still learning and when she gets really excited she sometimes still speaks to me. 5 Seconds of Summer and One Direction talk to me all the time, even Louis and Harry do sometimes, because people simply forget, but Eliot never forgot. He would never forget. So this, this is all due to teaching, this is due to my Mum and Dad forcing him to speak. This is caused by his teacher and Dave, Dave who wanted me to speak too.
“It’s very early there, what are you going to do today?” I sign at him, trying to make conversation, trying to let his little brain click on that he can sign to me, he has to sign to me.
But it doesn’t.
“Today … many things, … Nanny … promised … paint … go … dinner. … Granddad … show … again, I really like … .” he speaks.
Gosh lip reading an overly excited little boy over a Skype call is way harder than I had hoped it would be. Even though I got a few words from that, his explanation still didn’t make any sense.
“Eliot, why don’t you sign to me? I don’t understand you.” I try again.
“Mummy … talking is good … . … practise … . … English … not good, I want … . … need … school. Dave … you … practise … .” He speaks to me again.
And perhaps even betrayal? Yes. Definitely betrayal. Why does no one accept sign language? Everyone is always trying to get me to talk, always forcing me to lip read instead of trying to write things down and use simple gestures. Even though the boys on tour are trying to sign a bit, most of them still talk for the majority of the time and having to fit into what people want me to be just hurts.
Eliot was one of the only people who fully accepts me and my deafness and now they changed him, moulding them into refusing to use sign language, Dave is trying to make him into another version of him and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to handle it if he succeeds in that.
“That’s great, honey, but I’ve got to go, alright? Tell Mum and Dad hi from me. See you soon.” I sign, quickly ending the call before I get too emotional. I plug in my phone, watching the screen light up as it starts to charge. 3:51 in the morning the screen reads, but I can’t sleep.
I stare at the white ceiling and only seem to get more and more restless until suddenly I can’t take it anymore and jump out of bed. Quickly changing out of my pyjamas, the only thing I bring with me are my hotel room keys. I have no intentions of experiencing a night full of idiotic attempts to fall asleep, I need distraction. I need Ashton.
So here I am banging on his door at 4am, hoping, silently begging that he’ll open the door. A very sleepy looking Ashton dressed in nothing but boxers while he rubs his tired eyes slowly opens the door. His expressions doesn’t tell me that much, there’s no “why the fuck did you wake me up at 4am?!” no “are you okay? What happened?” no “go away, I don’t want you here.”
There is only anticipation showing on his face, waiting for me to explain this weird situation.
And to be quite honest: I’m not even sure why I showed up to Ashton’s door, all I know is that I’m sad and hurt and he was the only person I felt like I need with me right in this moment. I feel uncomfortable and I know that I’m probably going to regret signing it, but I quickly blurt it out anyway.
“So how about that date?”