They said we would never work. That, despite our best efforts, we would never work, because of our disabilities. Not the personality traits, despite what you usually hear, but because of our disabilities, because of what we couldn't do.
I have superior hearing, I can hear a lot of things normal people don't hear. It's why you'll never see me wearing an iPod, or an MP3-player, because my sensitive ears can't stand the music unless it's turned down very, very much.
She sees everything. If there's a fly up the highest tower, then I won't be surprised if she can see the fly wash its paws, and maybe scratch its head. She doesn't wear glasses because she needs to, though sometimes she tends to put them on, because 'they make me look smart'. They don't do anything, though. We fill each other's blanks in perfectly.
Because I can't see and she can't hear. I've been blind from my birth on, and she's been deaf for equally as long.
We met in high-school. In our first year there, the people over there thought it would be clever to have the two disabled people of the same year end up in the same class, 'so they could bond together' and 'have the feeling they're not alone'. Of course, both me and her could've enrolled for special school: but she taught herself to read lips, she wanted to blend in as much as possible with the other people. My parents wanted the same for me, they wanted me to blend in with normal people, as if to hide my own disability: they had special books made for me, written in braille. With difficulties, I had been taught to write.
We met there, and we immediately felt a special connection, because I was curious for the deaf girl I had heard of, and she was curious of me. I talked, and as she could read lips, we needed a third person to translate what she was saying in sign language to normal words, so I could hear what she was saying. Because, of course, she can't talk either, due to her disability.
It didn't work back then, but we both felt a vibe between ourselves, something which we could only explain later. I had tried sign language, but it didn't work for me –because of the same reason she can't talk. She can't hear herself and I can't see myself, so I can't correct myself.
We're currently in university, and we have plenty of friends, but we always fall back on each other whenever we need someone to talk to. We're even living together, now, and believe me, it works. I had had relationships with seeing girls before, but they never worked as smoothly as my relationship with Rebecca.
Last time, during college – she has a translator who translates everything in sign language – she touched my shoulder under my shirt as I listened to the teacher.
I'm bored. I never liked this man.
I smiled as I touched her shoulder, also under her shirt, in reply, and left it there when I was done, just like she had done to me.
He's boring. He can't, ever, give a good class without making at least one person fall asleep. But he is the most respectful man towards the two of us.
Agreed, I felt her say later in reply and we withdrew our arms.
This is the way we communicate. Deaf people communicate with sign language, blind people read written language in braille, but we communicate through touches.
Feel language, we call it. It's the only thing we both have: the ability to feel. We've developed it over time, as we 'talked' more and more and our translator got annoyed more and more because we needed him so often. Rebecca suddenly touched my shoulder, and replied in sign language to our translator what it meant, and he translated for me.
We formed an entire alphabet this way, and I learnt it by heart not soon later. After the alphabet, we slowly developed touches for words. And you might think, how many things can you communicate through touches? A lot, I can tell you. For example: you have five fingers, and I can only sense the difference between a thumb and any other finger – but you can let any finger slide down my shoulder softly, or go up my shoulder. That's four possibilities already – two with a finger, two with a thumb.
Now, imagine you doing that with two fingers, or a finger and a thumb – on top of the four possibilities we already have, that's four more. You can do the same with three fingers, or two fingers and a thumb, four fingers or three fingers and a thumb, or your entire hand. That makes twenty. Now, imagine you swiping to the left and right as well – that's forty in total. And then I haven't even started talking about the drawings you can make on skin, that I can feel as well – the possibilities are infinite, and through those, a new language slowly started to develop between us. Whenever Rebecca starts to develop a new word, she always spells it out for me first – I've obtained a very good memory for her new words this way. I do the same to her, but she's usually the one who makes up the words.
I reached out for her, again, and touched her shoulder under her shirt. It feels much better if you 'talk' on naked skin. Feel-talking through a shirt is like trying to talk normally while a band is playing half a mile away from you.
He always gives your deaf-translator a drink, as you told me, and is happy to walk me to my seat. Though all his help is annoying me often.
Rebecca gave me an annoyed pat on the shoulder. Try to see the bigger picture, Eduard. His wife's deaf and he's got a blind brother. He helps us just like he's used to help them. It's really sweet.
But… I replied, I like to be independent.
So do I, her answer was. But help is always welcome.
I smiled despite myself when I realized she had used the sign for 'try to see the bigger picture'. It's a short sign that we owe to Apple, or whoever invited the smartphone. When, on a smartphone, you try to zoom out, you put two or more fingers on the screen and let them move away from each other. We decided to use the same sign for 'try to see the bigger picture'. We use the opposite – 'zooming in' – whenever we tell the other he or she should look for the details. It saves quite a lot of time, I can tell you.
Thanks for being my voice of reason again, I said and I grinned. I don't know what I'd do without you.
Maybe you'd listen to the teacher instead of feel-talking with me. She responded with her hand still on my shoulder – I smirked, feeling caught, and I let go of her shoulder to let her know the conversation was over. She did the same to me.
You might wonder what we fell in love with, the two of us – she might have fallen for my looks, but I can't have fallen for hers. I fell for her personality instead: I knew I could trust her with everything I told her as our feel-language broadened over time. She never cursed at me, she was happy to guide me whenever I needed a guide, and I was happy to tell her things through feel-language no-one else was allowed to know. She was the only one allowed to touch my naked shoulder, and she was the only one who could see me mentally naked. I had no secrets for her, because we both had a disability – it helped us bond. I don't care about her looks – though others told me she's white-blonde, has short hair, and an unhealthily pale skin. I only care about who she is inside, the sweetest girl I have ever met.
We can't watch movies together, but we go to the park sometimes. It's where our first kiss took place, when I told her through our feel-language she was the sweetest girl I had ever known, and that I had hoped we'd know each other for a long time to come. We're pretty much inseparable, although that's mostly because we're helping each other where we can. At home, we have a special doorbell: all the lights in the house turn red briefly when somebody rings it. Of course, the normal sound is there too, because I can't see the lights changing. There are no stairs for me, so I can't trip over them.
Again, many people say we don't work, Rebecca and me. But they're wrong. Because we need each other so much, we work perfectly together. Sometimes, it's as if, together, we form one person who hears perfectly and sees everything. We complement each other. It works.
And I don't care what you think about it.
Author's Note: Short and sweet, as I like it! Tell me what you think about it - was there too much detail in the feel-talking language between Rebecca and Eduard? Was there too little? Or was it just fine? This story hasn't been Beta'd yet - mostly because my Beta is really, really busy - so I'm happy to hear any criticism. Go ahead and review! (Flames will be used in my mother's oven for the next time she'll have to use it - it'll save us a lot of energy, but I'd rather you didn't flame)