Hi person reading this, KungFuCoffee here! Just a few notes before I get started. The first thing is that this is probably very inaccurate to what people go through when they become blind, deaf, mute, etc. I'm NOT TRYING TO OFFEND ANYONE! Also, my father has a hearing problem, so I do kind of know what it's like to live with a deaf person when his hearing aids are out. Also, anything in QUOTES and ITALICS are signed. So without further ado, here is the first chapter.
Chapter One: That One Completely Rational Fear
Most teenagers either detest high school or are scared of it. The fear is a little irrational, quite like most teenagers' fear of algebra. Me? I had a genuine reason to be scared of both. I was scared of algebra because I had dyslexia and I got the numbers and letters muddled up. I was scared of high school for a much more grave matter.
It had all started at my last school, in the year before when this story really begins. I had been the object of the varsity football team's wrath, only because I had beaten their quarterback in a soccer match. I wasn't really a "nerd", but I also wasn't a "jock". The bullying got worse and worse, until about April, three months before school ended.
The football team had planned some sort of prank, and I'll never know what it was. The prank didn't go as planned, and ended in an explosion and white hot projectiles flying into my ears and burning my ear drums. I had become completely deaf, and was pulled out of school for extensive therapy.
At the end of summer, six months later, life was looking a bit more positive for Asher Williams. My family had packed their bags and moved to a town three hours away, Quinlan Hills. My family and I had all learned sign language, my mode of communication. I would be starting my junior year at Quinlan Hills High, and I was completely scared of what was to come.
I knew that deaf people were considered weird, and I was worried about that. Attention doesn't work well for me—I blush and stutter and whatnot. The other problem was that I would be using a tablet, provided by the school district, to communicate. If I wanted to say something, I would type it into the tablet and show it to the person I was talking to.
That meant no talking in class, no being discreet. My opinion would be broadcasted for the whole world to see.
"C'mon Asher!" My mom signed to me furiously. I was sitting in the kitchen, drinking some coffee. She was holding her purse in one hand, car keys in the other. We were supposed to go school shopping with my younger brother, Gabriel. I nodded and went out to the car, sitting down in the shotgun.
Gabriel was already sitting there, drawing something. At eleven years, he was becoming quite the artist.
"Hey dude, when are you going to get your license?" Gabe asked me, rolling his eyes. I grinned.
"Soon, I know you don't like Mom driving us." I replied, signing slower so that he could understand.
"She's embarrassing!" He complained, vigorously erasing something. Mom got into the car and started it up, pulling out of the garage. Once we were on the road, she turned to me so that I could read her lips.
"Can I just give you and Gabe money?" She asked me. "I have some other errands I want to do." I raised an eyebrow at that, and after making sure Gabe couldn't see my hands, gave my snarky response.
"What, like buying condoms for Dad?" Mom smacked my arm, but didn't say anything against that. I just laughed and settled back into the seat.
Once we got to the mall, Mom dropped the two of us off. After telling Gabe to call her when we were done—I couldn't for obvious reasons—she drove off.
I turned to Gabe, doing my best to read his lips. I didn't want to embarrass him or bring attention to us. I could still talk—I practiced with Gabe so that my voice didn't sound weird, but I didn't really like it. I couldn't hear what I sounded like.
"Where do you want to first?" I asked him as we walked over to the directory. After consulting the map, Gabe pointed to a spot. I looked closely at it and nodded. A few minutes later, we were standing in the Vans store, with Gabe looking through snapbacks and me looking at the beanies. There was just something about the guys in our family—we loved hats. My dad wore classic baseball caps, I wore beanies, and Gabe wore is snapbacks. It was just a weird quirk.
After getting a simple black beanie (my loving cat, Fuzz, had chewed my favorite) for myself and an SF Giants hat for Gabe, we made our way to Staples and got binder paper, pens, pencils, and the other necessities for both of us. Once we were done, we stopped by some local shops for new t shirts and jeans, and then hurried over to the food court.
Gabe decided to get some pizza, while I made my way over to the Vietnamese food place. After getting a small bowl of pho, I found where Gabe was sitting.
"I met a girl who goes to my middle school," Gabe said slowly. I nodded.
"Yeah, I think that anyone your age is going to your middle school," I replied, laughing. Quinlan Hills was a fairly small town—one mall, two movie theaters, a little "hipster" area with a couple restaurants, an arcade, and three diners. The diners, from what I understood, were all very popular among the high schoolers.
"Very true." Gabe replied. "But she was cute. Her name was Jessica."
"Quite the ladies' man, I see," I told him, shoveling noodles into my mouth with my chopsticks.
Gabe laughed. "I'm sure you'll get a girlfriend really soon."
Shaking my head, I thought about what he'd said. There was no way in heaven or hell that I would get a girlfriend. Even if I did, it would be out of pity, and I'd had enough pity from every person who learned I was deaf to last me a lifetime. Gabe just shrugged and stuffed the rest of his pizza into his mouth, making me wince.
Once we were done, we headed to the soccer store, where I got a new ball. I had popped my last one with a steak knife the day before my therapy began, and I hadn't gotten the chance to get a new one until then.
Finally, Gabe rang Mom, who got back surprisingly quickly. We piled our bags into the trunk of her car and hurried in, wanting to get home and get sorted for the next day, when school would officially begin.
After shoving binders, pencil cases, and erasers into my backpack, I ate dinner with my family (I won't rehash the awkward details) and went to bed.
Hey, I just met you! So here's my number, so call me maybe! With a groan, I threw my pillow at my alarm, which was emitting the crime to humanity know as Call Me Maybe.
First day of school was off to a pop culture start. After accomplishing the impossible—getting into the shower and brushing my teeth, I was ready to get dressed. After much consideration, I pulled out a grey t-shirt with the green Evanescence "e" on it and some jeans, along with a matching green beanie, then picked up my backpack, slinging it over my shoulder.
I pounded on Gabe's door, furiously trying to get him to emerge from his cave when he opened the door, making me punch him in the forehead. Once I'd helped him up, we trekked downstairs, where Mom was waiting for us, a key ring in hand.
Dad grinned and handed us each a piece of toast, and just for me, a thermal mug of coffee. I signed him an enormous THANK YOU, and he gave me a thumbs up.
"Hey Asher, I've got a present for you," Mom told me, smirking like the Cheshire cat. I wrinkled my brow, confused until Mom tossed the keys at me. That could only mean one thing. I hurried outside, only to see a black pickup truck waiting in the driveway next to Mom's little car that she and Dad took to work. Rushing back inside, I gave both of them a ginormous hug before dragging Gabe's ass to the truck and powering it up.
It worked like an angel, purring to life. Angel probably wasn't the correct term, considering the color of it, but I'd have to come up with a name later. Gabe began fiddling with the radio, but I didn't really mind. That was one of the perks—I knew that Gabe and my mom fought over radio stations a lot, but I didn't take the time to read their lips about it. Gabe was into the kind of music I was—Evanescence, Imagine Dragons, Panic! At the Disco, All American Rejects and such, while Mom was more of a Celine Dion, I-Will-Always-Love-You type of person. To each his own, I guess.
The middle school was easy to find—it was right across the street from the high school. I parked in the high school lot and made Gabe walk across the street—such a good older brother.
I nervously made my way to the main office, taking in the sight of the hustle and bustle of a new school. This wouldn't be easy, but I had to try. Life wasn't ever easy for anyone.
I got to the office fairly easily, only running into about three people, all who didn't try to start anything. At my old school, if I ran into someone, I'd get locked into a locker for the rest of the day, or get kicked in the crotch.
I noticed the secretary trying to say something to me, but she said it so fast that I didn't understand.
"I'm sorry, I'm deaf." I said to the best of my ability. "Could you say that a bit slower?" The secretary's eyes filled with the familiar look of pity, and she said it as if I was retarded too, no offense to my fellow pity receivers (I got your back).
"Are you Asher Williams?" The secretary had asked me. I nodded. "Could you take a seat? The principal just left for the school assembly, but you're excused from that. It'll probably be about half an hour, if you'd like to look around the school or something."
"No thank you." I replied shakily, and sat down in one of the waiting chairs. This was what iPhones were for—wasting time.
I spent an entire hour playing Piano Tiles—the secretary's estimate had been a little off. Finally, the principal came striding in, dressed in a suit.
"Asher?" He asked me slowly. I nodded, and he gestured for me to follow. He led the way to his office, a spacy room with papers strewn everywhere. My eyes widened, and I saw the principal, a Mr. O'Connor judging from the golden sign on his desk, laugh. He motioned for me to sit, and I promptly did.
"So Mr. Willams, it's nice to have you here at our school." Mr. O'Connor signed, making me jerk back in shock. He could sign?
"Thank you." I said back, still a little shocked but trying to hide it.
"Now, I know that the district has provided you with an iPad to communicate properly." He told me, and then handed me a brand new iPad in its box. "However, I have a much better idea for you. You'll still get the iPad, but I believe that it will have a much better use being used for your enjoyment, seeing as that will be hard to find in this environment." He grinned at me, winking conspiratorially. I smiled widely back at him. "I happen to know another person in your grade who is well versed in ASL. Her schedule has been set to match yours, and she'll be your guardian of sorts."
I looked at him, completely blown out of the water. Mr. O'Conner was assigning me a person who would watch over me and be a translator of sorts. He was definitely rising on my "Good People" list. I watched Mr. O'Connor press a button on a machine with a microphone—the PA system.
"Good morning students," I watched him say. "Could Miss Camila Angelo please report to the office?" Camila Angelo. He said her last name An-he-lo instead of An-juh-lo. Maybe she was Italian or Latino.
Sure enough, when a petite girl with her black hair tied into a crazy bun stormed into the office, I could tell that she was one of those—which one, I didn't know.
"Mr. Bubbles, hello." Camila said, sitting down next to me, her backpack still on her shoulders. Mr. Bubbles?
"Miss Angelo, this is Mr. Williams. He is deaf." Mr. O'Connor said to Camila, who turned to me with a grin.
"Hey." I signed to her. She just looked at me for a moment before flinging herself at me with a giant hug. Once she released me, she began rapidly firing signs at me.
"Hi there Asher! I'm Cam, and I'm gonna be the world's best Asher Watcher, just you wait! Oh, and Mr. Bubbles over there is Bubbles because he's so nice and you can't be mad at him, just like you can't be mad at bubbles. We should probably head over to Algebra. Nice iPad, you totally got around the district with Mr. Bubbles."
I stared at the hyper girl, completely silenced. She laughed, and then said something to Mr. O'Connor. He motioned towards the door, and Cam grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the office, giving a quick smile to the secretary then rushing into the hall. After roughly shoving the iPad into my backpack, she dragged me off to my first class.
Hey there, you sexy thing! You know how you'd help Cam be awesome? By reviewing what you think so far, voting, and adding this story to your library. Cam would love you!
I'm gonna try and update every other Monday, but I have a crazy schedule so we'll see. I love you if you're still reading!