16:51 my phone reads. Nine minutes early. As I look up to the doorbell I contemplate whether or not I should just leave and text Calum that I’m not coming over. He didn’t seem like he wanted to have anything to do with me anyways, I might as well leave, right? I want to turn around, walk away and forget about the zeros, go home and return to my bubble in which everyone signs. Not this world where everything revolves around fame and music. Go on, you can do it. You can turn around and change your phone number and never ever have to get in contact with Ashton ever again.
Ashton with the dimples and the curly hair. Ashton who weird stupid bandanas that make him look beautiful. Ashton who loves playing drums more than anything. Ashton.
And that’s exactly the reason why I’m still here in front of the door instead of walking away like I’ve been trying to convince myself to do.
Fucking Ashton Irwin.
I take a deep breath and ring the doorbell, without putting much thought into it, I almost immediately regret it. Suddenly the door swings open and Calum ushers me in, telling me to just drop my stuff in the hallway. When we walk into the kitchen I see that the other three boys are laying on the couch, both Luke and Michael move their mouths to say hello while Ashton stares at the ground, avoiding eye contact until Michael punches him in his arm. Nervously Ashton looks up at me, opens his mouth to talk, pauses for a second and waves instead. I wave back at him, smiling broadly, bless him for signing. Ashton raises his eyebrows, points at me, plasters a fake smile on his face and point at his mouth as well.
Even though what Ashton is doing is not even considered signing I still know what he means. Even gestures make more sense to me than trying to lip read. “I’m smiling, because you signed.” I sign to him. The boys seem kind of taken aback by this change in communication and Ashton’s frown confirm what I had already guessed: they don’t understand my signing. I sigh and take a seat on the opposite couch so I have a clear view of all the boys and even the kitchen behind them where Calum is currently standing. Calum lifts his hand and makes a motion as if he’s drinking from an imaginary cup he’s holding. “Water, please.” I sign.
He does not seem to understand it since he does not move, I point to the tap and sign “water” again, that seems to do it for him and not too long afterwards he hands me a glass of water. After he hands me my drink I realise that this is going to be a very difficult task. I can’t lip read their fast talking and they seem to have a lot of problems with what I consider “simple signs”. We’re in for a long night.
All of a sudden Luke jumps up and walks out of the room. The guys are very unlike themselves, they sit quietly on the couch refusing to make eye contact with me, I can’t blame them though, this is nothing like they’ve ever experienced. Suddenly Luke is standing in front of me with a nervous expression on his face while he hands me a small white board, toilet roll and a marker. As soon as I start smiling, the guys seem to relax. I quickly write down “Thank you so much, this is the nicest thing a hearing person has ever done for me. Usually they don’t try to communicate with me.” as Luke hands one board to Calum and Michael and shares the other one between him and Ashton. In an attempt to change the subject to an easier flowing conversation, Michael asks me what I thought of the concert. “It was my first concert and I loved it! It felt amazing!” I respond to him. “But you couldn’t hear the music, so how could you enjoy it?” he responds with a confused look on his face. Before I have a chance to write my answer down Calum starts writing. “Or can you hear? Just a little bit?” I shake my head “No, I can’t hear any sounds at all.”
Somehow my deafness interests, but simultaneously confuses them. “When was the last time you heard music?” Luke suddenly joins in.
“Never.” I reply “I was born deaf, I don’t even know what sounds are, let alone what music sounds like.”
This seems to take them by surprise, to these four teenagers music is everything, they can’t even imagine never experiencing sounds. Suddenly Ashton gets up and starts speaking, I try to lip read him, but the fact that he’s not facing me makes it even harder. “… can’t … this. Can’t … , … deaf! … Never …! Cal, thanks for … , … go. … don’t want … .”
I keep staring at the guys, wanting an explanation for what just happened, suddenly I can see them look up and look at the door, a noise I can’t hear must’ve startled them. Hesitantly Luke writes “he’s playing the drums.” Which still doesn’t give me an explanation as to why he felt the sudden need to leave.
Why did Ashton keep saying “can’t”? What can’t he do? Be around me? Communicate with me? What doesn’t he want? Doesn’t he want to get to know me? What is putting him off? My deafness? My personality? Or maybe just my physical appearance? I can feel my stomach twisting, I’ve never felt this insecure before.
“I need to go for a walk.” I write, I get up and grab my bag on my way out.
Suddenly I hate having a soulmate, you and your soulmate are supposed to fall in love with each other, it should be thrilling and exciting and you’re both supposed to be happy. Ashton doesn’t make me happy, he makes me doubt everything I’ve always thought about myself. I’m comfortable being deaf, I love my sign language, I never felt like there was something wrong with me and suddenly Ashton comes around and messes with my head.
I plop down on a bench at some random park I passed as I feel hot tears rolling down my cheeks. Why do I have such a need to be perfect for him? Why do I feel like I have to be hearing for him? Why do I need him to like me so badly? I don’t even like him, he’s an asshole who can’t accept me for me, but if he’s an asshole then why do I feel the need to go back? Why do I feel this constant urge to be as close to him as I can? I hate him. He’s a dick who makes me insecure, but why do I have this tugging feeling inside that just wants to be near him? I wipe my tears away and get up, walking back to Calum’s flat. It takes quite a while for him to answer the door after I rang the doorbell. Somehow he looks relieved to see me. “Where’s Ashton?” I sign to him. Thank god that I gave him the sign name “drummer”, because Calum seems to understand that sign as he points to one of the doors at the end of the hallway.
I don’t bother knocking on the door, I won’t be able to hear his response anyway. Ashton looks up from his drum kit for barely a second and then goes back to completely ignoring me, banging on the drums even harder. The fact that he barely acknowledges my existence makes me so mad that I have an unexplainable urge to punch him, I’ve never hit anyone and I’m not a violent person at all, but for some reason Ashton seems to bring out the worst in me. I force myself to be the bigger person and sit cross-legged on the floor right in front of the drums, I don’t sign, I don’t talk and I don’t hold up my white board. After a while of trying to ignore me Ashton gives up, he throws his drum sticks to the side. “What?” I see him ask me as his chest falls and rises from playing the drums so hard, his arms and forehead glistening with sweat, his eyebrows furrowed in annoyance.
Now that I finally have his attention I hold up the white board. “I don’t like you and I know you don’t like me. You’re an asshole for blaming me for being deaf, for wishing that I wasn’t. I can’t make myself hearing, I can’t make myself appreciate the music you make, but I can try to like you. For some reason our timers were fit to match, somehow our personalities must match too, I am willing to try and be friends with you, but I need you to try too.”
He slowly switches his gaze from the board up to my face and then he slowly moves his head, barely nodding. I nod back at him, we’re going to try and for now that’s all I wish for.