The sign goes unnoticed by him, like so many people who rely on words as their form of communication who don’t understand how hand movements can be communication too.
And then as a gift from above Ashton uses a gesture, he points at the zeros on his left wrist while his mouth keeps moving, the hopeful look on his face gives away that he’s looking for confirmation. I nod while showing him my zeros on my left wrist. A nervous smile creeps on his face and he speaks again, I furrow my eyebrows at him and confusedly he repeats his question. I catch one word and it’s the only word I needed “name”.
Panic starts taking over, this is only part one of the communication barrier, now I have to get him to understand me too. I’m too scared to speak, even though I did have a bit of speech therapy when I was younger I refuse to speak to anyone, because I know I have a noticeable “deaf accent”, I know that it makes me sound dumb and it’s just too embarrassing. Fingerspelling my name won’t help either, he won’t know what hand shape resembles what letter of the alphabet.
Suddenly I see a blonde girl behind Ashton, signing to me “Need help?” I quickly nod. Within a few steps she’s stood next to Ashton. She starts talking to Ashton using Sign Supported English, otherwise known as SSE which is an English based sentence structure while using signs to support the spoken words.
“Hi Ashton, my name’s Lynn, this is my best friend Beth. She’s your soulmate.” Lynn tells him with a smile.
Ashton frowns, still oblivious as to why I need my best friend to introduce me to him. His eyes didn’t leave me so the signing went completely unnoticed.
“Hi Beth, nice to meet you.”
I just give him a little wave, unsure what to tell him.
My eyes flicker back to Lynn as she start signing his next question: “What did you think of the concert?” As a response I just give him a thumbs up.
“Are you alright? Why won’t you talk to me? Are you disappointed I’m your soulmate?”
I frantically shake my head, take deep breath and sign to him. “I’m not disappointed, I’m sorry, I’m deaf that’s why I don’t talk. That’s why Lynn is interpreting.”
Ashton keeps shifting his gaze from me to Lynn and back to me. He seems so confused, mumbles something and walks off. Lynn decides it’s time to take my attention away from Ashton and tries to small talk about us finally being free from secondary school. She excitedly signs to me about all the plans she has for this summer. I can’t focus on her signing, not when I can see Ashton talking to Calum from right across the room, suddenly they both turn to me.
Shit. Ashton must be discussing how much he does not like me, how much he hates me for being his soulmate. Suddenly Ashton walks out and that’s when I realise that we’re the only fans left in the room. Right as we’re about to leave Calum taps me on my shoulder. He looks very nervous and not sure what to do with himself.
“So ehm, you’re Ashton’s soulmate, right? He’s a bit confused, I guess you could say. I’m really sorry. Would you, like, can I get your number? You know, for when he turns around?”
I nod and put my number in his phone. “It was nice meeting you, Calum. Thank you.” I tell him, he nods and gives us both a quick hug before walking away.
When we walk towards the train station Lynn asks me how I’m feeling.
“Honestly, I’m not really sure. This has been the best day of my life, the music was amazing and I don’t think I expected him to react any different than from what he did. It makes me sad that he can’t see past my deafness.” I tell her. My phone buzzes and I look at the text:
From: Unknown Number:
hi beth, its calum. were free on the 4th and 5th of june, wanna come to London and hang out with us? ash will probably have turned around by then. x.
I smile and respond with a quick:
To: Calum Hood:
id love that, thanx for the invite. text me the details later xx
“I think I’m going to be alright,” I sign to Lynn, “I’ll be alright.”