Funny; She Doesn’t Look Deaf.

When I saw a woman signing to a little girl, I was having one of my spaced-out moments. My eyes dropped down to the child and I felt my heart sink a little.

I can’t even imagine missing out on sound. Music. The noise of everything around you, warning you.

As I watched her walk outside and back in again, I tried to see the difference in her.

Funny. She doesn’t look deaf.

I mean, not that she would – I thought maybe she would be seeing things, visibly differently. Then I guessed not.

A few minutes later the woman approached me and showed me her phone. She had typed: Please help I put a quarter in the tampon machine but it says it is empty.

DUH the woman was deaf. Shows how well I’d examined that entire scenario.

OK, I nodded, and put my index finger up like ‘one minute’. She nodded. Employees on the phone told me were out of feminine products and then there were pages and more waiting.

The little girl came over to us and asked, “What is my mommy doing here? Why are we waiting here?”

“Um,” I had to figure out, and how odd the world must be for her when she cannot understand those moments, “Your mom put a coin in a machine to get something out but it didn’t work.”

“A coin? In a machine?” as if the concept was all-new.

“Yeah, you see those,” I pointed to the candy machines, “You put money in and candy comes out. But one was broken.”

“Ohhhhh okay.”

The manager walked up and handed me a quarter, hot from his pocket, and I gave it to the lady.

On the way out the little girl tugged at her mom’s dress and pointed to the candy machines. Her mother handed her the quarter and I watched them retrieve jelly beans.

The way the little girl had walked around me, how the quarter had gone from one purpose to another, felt very full circle to me.

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Just Like High School

 

***

“I kind of get…I mean…the other day he randomly walked up to me and asked me what one word best described my life. I don’t know, exactly how…”

“Endearing.”

“…Yeah.”

***

Maybe it doesn’t matter, how fascinated he seems by learning how to break someone’s ribs in order to bring back their breath.

“You basically turn a baby around and beat the shit out of it.”

Now that William is getting more comfortable at work he has been forming better relationships with others. In the weirdest sense, it feels like a massive relief.

Maybe it doesn’t matter, when he walks by and says that he hates people.

“Heyyy. Jesus,” I answered, offended. Didn’t we spend quality time together as people?

“I mean the customers,” he clarified.

Maybe it doesn’t matter that he has already picked out his next tattoo. Of a revolver, with the bullets falling out and down his back. Bullets with writing on them.

“Please tell me you haven’t named any of the bullets already.”

“I have.”

That side of him, that gets really upset whenever I call him ‘Billy’. He says I didn’t know Billy, but I always want to test him.  Shove him in to some lockers, call him a faggot and see what he’s got.

New place, new start. Maybe there’s more or maybe he’s just in love with the idea of all the wrong things.  In my mind he rides around in the back of ambulances in the not-too-distant future and looks down at a suicide attempt, to the flower his arm, and back to the person lying on a stretcher. In my mind, It Gets Better. But every now and then I wonder if a strong enough pull, a strong enough impression could push him entirely over.

“You shoulda seen William at his interview. He was all spiffy –“

“In a bow tie.”

“Yeah. How’d you know?”

Because I saw him first.

At work we get these little bullshit pins if we pass enough training sessions. Bronze, Silver, cheap shiny weights on our collars. The post lady handed me our latest bunch and I threw the gold one at William.

“Way to go, Billy.”

“I’m leaving now.”

“Good. Get the fuck out.”

And there it was, that off-balance I needed.