Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fourteen


I Can’t Hear You

by
Alexander M Zoltai
Dedicated to
Two Young Women Signing in my Local Cafe

~~~~~~~~~

At two I realized my parents didn’t love me…

They loved a child nearly like me, with one additional ability—it could hear.

We were acutely poor—I didn’t attend school—I had no deaf friends.

I didn’t start learning a recognized sign language until I was seven (though there were a small set of “house signs” between my parents and I)—we’d moved to a different state and it was sheer luck (or, Fate…) that I met Luke.

He was 10 and deaf like me—I’d stay away from home for days at a time so I could learn my language.

When I reached the age of nine, Luke helped me write a note to my parents telling them I was leaving home (they had no knowledge of Luke and his family…); and, I left home.

I never went back to see how they were—they never came after me.

In fact, Luke’s folks questioned me closely about my parents for an hour then firmly decided to “adopt” me—there was no need for any legal action, we lived way out in the country…

Luke and his Mom spent every minute they could helping me read—she wasn’t deaf but she sure was a smart woman.

I decided to be a writer shortly after my eleventh birthday…

~~~

Julia asked me again, “How did you ever learn to write?”.

Naturally she was signing—she was just starting her studies as an interpreter.

I signed, “Two people’s patience—matching signs to words, words to signs—it gave me my internal voice—I’d had real trouble doing any deep thinking before that—“.

“But, do you think in words or signs?”

“I feel signs…”

“Whoa !”

We agreed she could practice being an interpreter with me—we roamed all over town talking to folks—she practiced interpreting, I did my research for my novel…

~~~

It would take Julia six years to become proficient enough to begin freelancing.

It would take me just as long to write the novel.

~~~

Julia held the sheets of paper with a sense of awe—I sat watching her face—she read:

There was no way Jason was going to give in—an implant in his ear was not going to make him a better person.

Plus, he treasured the silence—had learned through bitter disappointment how callous and insincere some of the hearing-world could be.

His world was just as full without the screeching, screaming, shrieking world he watched others navigating.

His appointment with the film director was at nine—he sat in the cafe working on memorizing the actions he’d been instructed to learn—reactions to other’s actions and to certain happenings in the film.

He knew he’d have to improvise some of them but that was probably part of the audition—funny to Jason since “audition” came from a word that meant “to hear”…

~~~

Julia told me she liked the beginning.

I didn’t want to show her more until I had about half the novel finished…

~~~

Novel finished—Julia got her first gig as an interpreter…

A year after that, I got tired of hearing from agents that there was no market for a book about a deaf actor—had they never heard of Katie Leclerc, Ella Mae Lentz, and Marlee Matlin?

I learned everything I could about self-publishing and had the book, in print and digital formats, available within a year.

Then, I worked for another year to save up enough to afford a trip around the country visiting Deaf Clubs to promote the book.

In three more years, I was the man working on memorizing the actions I’d been instructed to learn—auditioning for the main character in the film of my own book…

One more year and the book, and rumors of the film (we were working on a small budget), had me appearing on talk shows—Julia at my side…

By the time the film was released, we were married.

~~~

My son looks just like me.

He can hear.

He can also sign.

I’m going to make damn sure he doesn’t have to work as hard as I did to find himself…

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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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