“I know you don’t want this,” Dad tells me using one handed signs, while he uses the other hand to drive the car. “But maybe you should just give it a shot.”
We pull up in front of the building I took Eliot to a couple of weeks back, the waiting room is completely empty and I gladly take a seat and start reading the book I brought with me. My Dad taps me on my knee after a while and points up to Dave who’s standing in the door opening of his office. I put my book away and swing my bag over my shoulder as I walk into Dave’s office.
“Good morning, Elizabeth.” I read off of Dave’s lips.
“It’s just Beth.” I sign with an annoyed expression, I really don’t want to be here.
To my surprise Dave starts signing to me, something that he really doesn’t agree with. “I usually don’t sign on appointments, but since this is the first one I should get to know you a bit. After this I will expect you to try and speak instead of sign, we’ll work on that, don’t worry. And I’ll also start speaking again and practise lip reading with you and give some pointers. Does that look, alright?”
I nod in response and smile slightly, because he asked me if his plan looked good instead of sounded good. A lot of hearing people still use terms like that around me: “Does that sound like a good plan?” or “Did you hear about what happened to Tammy?”, no, I haven’t, I didn’t fucking hear it, no.
“I saw you reading outside. Do you like reading?”
“So you like English then.”
I nod again. “Yes, I’m going to study English at university this September.”
“But you don’t like speaking it, correct?”
“Then why are you so interested in reading it? And learning about the English language?” When no response comes Dave simply continues “You know why I’m asking you this, right?”
“Yes, it’s because British Sign Language is my first language, not English.” I respond.
“Exactly.” Dave signs back at me. “The literacy levels of sign language users are often very low, look at your brother for instance. Judging from a few of your essays you wrote in college that your Mum showed me: your English is outstanding for a sign language user. So why not start speaking it? It only seems logical, doesn’t it?”
I nod again, I suppose it is a bit hypocritical of me to want to study English, but refuse to speak it.
“I was also told that you’ve had speech therapy before?” Dave signs.
“Yes, for two years I think, when I just started primary school.”
Dave asks me quite some more questions about English, speaking, lip reading, school, my future, interpreters, sign language and all kinds of things.
“Alright, Beth. I want you to do something for me now.” Dave ends his questionnaire, I am surprised by how my hate has died down a bit, but as he proceeds to sign the next question I realise what he was trying to do. “From now on we are both going to stop signing.” And he does as said, he speaks very slowly, exaggerating his lip patterns so I can read them “… introduce yourself, please?”
I take a deep breath and lightly touch my throat with my fingers so I can feel the vibrations when I make sounds. “I am Beth.” I start out and god, it feels weird, I haven’t spoken in years. “I am deaf. I am nearly eighteen years old.”
“When was the last time you spoke to Ashton?” Lynn signs to me and my eyes search the room trying to avoid the conversation.
“Beth, be honest please. You never talk about him and I never see you text him, that’s not normal for someone who’s only been with their boyfriend for a few weeks.” She tries pushing the subject.
“We kind of got into an argument, again. Just before I left and yeah, we haven’t talked since that day.” I swallow hard before continuing “I just feel like shit, I miss him. I feel bad for not going after him, but he didn’t come after me either and I’m scared he might not be my boyfriend anymore and I really want him to be.”
“You idiot! Go make up!” She signs before pushing my phone in my hand. I stare down at my phone and count how long it takes for him to answer the FaceTime call.
It’s taking too long, he won’t answer.
It’s too late.
My thumb floats around, just above the red button, taking one last second to tell Ashton goodbye, because he doesn’t want this, he doesn’t want me.
But he does.
The screen comes to life and Ashton’s face appears and a feeling of happiness rips through my body and god, so does a feeling of being absolutely terrifying.
Because what if this was him saying goodbye? But not like the way I wanted him to say it in Philadelphia. What if he’s planning on saying goodbye forever? What if he tells me that not all soulmates are made to be together and that he is going to leave?
But I didn’t get a goodbye, I got a “hello” as the boy born with numbers on his wrists to match mine perfectly sheepishly smiles at me.
It only takes me a second to jump up and I find myself sitting at Lynn’s desk with my iPhone placed against a stack of books so I can sign freely and I jump right to the conclusion, because I suddenly can’t wait to tell him.
“I miss you.” I abruptly sign. “I miss you and I want you back, I want you to be here and I want myself to be there and I want us to be together. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being a horrible girlfriend and god, I hope it’s not ex-girlfriend right now. And I know you’re annoying and we fight, but I still want you, because even when you hurt me it still hurts me more to not be with you.”
And once I drop my hands after the final sign something breaks in me and tears start slipping from my eyes onto my blue jeans.
“Lizzy, don’t cry. Please, don’t cry. You know I can’t h-a-n-d-l-e seeing you cry. I was hoping so badly that this wasn’t the end and I’m sorry for being mad, I almost didn’t answer the call because I was still mad, but seeing you changes everything. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for being too proud to admit that I was wrong, for refusing to come and see you and for not apologising to you.” Ashton signs rapidly and my life seems to slowly build itself up again, I feel complete again as I look at my tall Australian boyfriend with messy curly hair who tries his hardest to not end up like me; sobbing like a baby.
“It’s okay, Ash. We’re okay. We can try to be less stupid and start being more relationship like. Please try with me?” I sign after rubbing my eyes in an attempt to get rid of the tears that still stain my cheeks.
“Of course.” He replies. “Of course we’ll try.”
Well, okay, so that happened.
Thoughts? Tips? Feedback?
I don't know what to write in these things.
I'm sorry if you didn't like this update, I'm not too fond about it myself either.
Thanks for reading and liking and fave-ing (is that a word? Let's make it a word) and commenting and all of that.
Until next time xx