obviously possible

or maybe we just see things like we’re told to see them,

like a flower in the grass or a light in the dark.

perhaps we see things the same, but they can’t be since our eyes see colours differently.

possibly i see what i want to see

like i hear what i want to hear.

or maybe it’s because i cannot see. obviously i cannot hear,

because i have an aid like a tiny microphone in a large field of people

and only those beside me can see it and only i feel it.

perhaps the vibrations i feel

when i cannot hear are like mini earthquakes on the earth.

or as tiny humans in a big universe we are like the birds in the sky

it is huge and we are small but we are one and together.

or maybe we are born from the will of our mothers.

or from the stars. perhaps both, to satisfy the public system.

our birth is symbolic because it is the start of an us,

but also of a me that will be an us.

or maybe it’s all a ruse and we’re just us without a meaning.

people give significance because they crave it, maybe.

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Moments to Remember While Losing Hope: Part I

20h13 – Six Hours Into Gathering  

I get up, unsure of what to do with myself. My palms are sweaty, my head hurts and my mind racks. I feel very selfish. I should be happy to be surrounded by talkative, enthusiastic friends, but instead I worry about being in the background. About the impression this freak out gives them. I excuse myself for the fourth time in the last half hour, sighing as my mumbling is only acknowledged by one person.

In the next room over, I lean on the wall, closing my eyes to calm my thoughts and my breathing. Panting, I run my hands through my hair. I don’t need this. My battery may be drained, and I may feel invisible, but I have to ride it out for the next hour or so. After my breathing regulates a bit, and the tears have dried, I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water and some yogurt.  

When I come back into the muggy space, my eyes dart from person to person. On one couch, Lily, Ryan and Colin sit, playing video games and trash-talking each other over what appears to be the sound-effects of the game, though it only sounds like vibrations to me. On the other side, Ellen, Rose and Dean sit. Rose and Ellen take the entire couch and Dean eyes me from his seat on top of Ellen. I avert my eyes, sitting on the edge of the couch beside Colin. As I look down, twiddling my fingers and fiddling with the hem of my shirt, Ellen squirms loudly enough that the ground shakes and I know it’s Dean’s way of getting my attention. I try to resist his determination to get me to follow his gaze, but am awarded a huge grin when my eyes meet his.

He waves me over, and I take a seat on the edge of the couch as I had before. Ellen glances my way with a concerned frown, but I shake my head, smiling reassuringly. She nods, turning back to Rose. They continue to read and laugh at stuff on Rose’s phone, and Dean looks at me, smiling and making funny faces in an attempt to make me smile.  

Eventually, I offer a shy quirk of the lips. He laughs, taking my hands in his. I shift to face him completely, and his smile widens. I watch him as he brings my hands to his face, kissing my knuckles briefly. I chuckle as my fingers run against his jaw and his hold on my hands loosens even more. Dean smiles as I bring one hand to his neck, running my fingers through the hair there. My other hand stays at his face, brushing his sideburns as we watch each other.

He gets up and I follow, shifting with him as he brings us to a stance that suggests we dance to the background vibrations that are music coming from the stereo. I scoff, smiling slightly as he starts to sway. I hug him, hand coming to his neck again and he laughs, squeezing me to him. Used to to his closeness and crushing hug, I only shake my head and chuckle as he sways more widely. The music is not slow dancing music, or music either of us particularly enjoy, not that I can make out many of the vibrations, but I move with him either way. Dean laughs when he feels my fingers draw a pattern on his neck. Force of habit. The swaying stops a bit as we stare at each other. He pulls a face as my eyes narrow and he chuckles.

I sigh as my confidence is brought back slowly. He notices the freed tension and rubs my back, squeezing my shoulders. I laugh as he abruptly turns, and we dance some more. I twirl as he watches me, and he laughs as my elbow pops loudly when my arm extends. I wince, smiling when he gets concerned. I hum quietly and he sways and twirls as our roles are reversed. I laugh as Dean almost slides and trips because of his socks, and he pretends to wrestle me back into a dancing stance. He raises an eyebrow as my expression falters a bit, and I sigh. He nods to himself, rubbing my back again. My eyes shift under his gaze, and he sighs. Our eyes meet again as he hugs me closer, and I chuckle. Dean bites his lip as my smile falters again. He rests his forehead on mine, swaying wide and quick until a laugh bubbles its way up and I grin at him. He smirks in his satisfaction and I rest my forehead on his, sighing as he laughs quietly.

Dean stays at my side for the rest of time, holding my hand and sharing his food as I watch the video games from my comfy stop on his lap, and my thoughts stay on the memory of his smile as his forehead touches mine.

Black Amongst the Auburn Shades

On the train, Rob and I sit across two boys whose other siblings sit in the other aisle. While Rob and I talk, I notice the boy across from Rob fidgeting, trying not to stare. We’re on the way to Constanta, from Ploiesti. The Romanian sky is beautiful, and the weather is pretty consistent. Beside him, his brother reads, quietly tapping to the music coming from his headphones. For the first couple hours, the boy across from me barely lifts his head, eyes always on his book. The siblings from the other aisle are less quiet, making conversation in what sounds like Bulgarian.

Come dinnertime, there is more movement. The boy across from Rob gets up to distribute sandwiches amongst the siblings. While they eat, the boy across from me returns to his book. Beside him, his brother is on his cell phone. Out of the four of them, the boy across from me looks like the youngest, and is the only one with black hair. His siblings all have shades of auburn and brown.

While Rob and I struggle to find something to eat since we were both asleep when the trolley came by, the brothers seem to have short conversation. The boy at the window mumbles something, and it is answered with soft movement of the lips and some huffing sound effects. At the window, his brother nods, and they are back to doing their own thing. A few minutes pass before the boy at the window looks up again, watching me. He mumbles something, but I can’t hear it over the train’s rattling. Once he has my full attention, he mumbles more loudly in what sounds more like Romanian, ‘’We have tons of food, if you would both like some.’’

I decline the offer, not wanting to be a pain, ‘’No, thank you. We’ll figure it out.’’

He smiles at me, ‘’Feel free to ask for some later, if you change your mind.’’ He says. In front of me, the boy stops reading to watch the conversation. His eyes move back in forth between the both of us as we exchange words. Deaf?

Curious by the way he suddenly changed languages I ask, ‘’Why are you all going to Constanta?”

‘’To visit our mother. We were visiting my father’s family last week,’’ he explains.

‘’We’re visiting my family as well,’’ I reply with a smile. ‘’I’m Kristina.’’

‘’Darko.’’ He replies as we shake hands. ‘’This is Iliya,’’ he adds as his brother waves. Mute?

‘’This is Roberto,’’ I say, pointing to the sleeping form in front of Darko.

By this time, the other siblings turn their attention to me as well. ‘’Zora,’’ The girl says, also shaking my hand. Yan is the last of brothers. ‘’It’s nice to meet you.’’

‘’Is Bulgarian your first language? Were you all born there?’’ I ask curiously, wondering whether the questions are too personal.

I get a chorus of yes, along with a nod from Iliya. ‘’We have also lived in Macedonia,’’ Zora says after a moment. ‘’How long were you in Ploiesti?’’

‘’Just a few days visiting the city,’’ I reply. Conversation goes on, and Iliya is quiet, following with his eyes. Every once in a while, he fiddles with his book as if wanting to get back to it. He also nods or makes huffing sounds every now and then when I ask questions. I inform them that I’m studying civil work in northern Romania.

Zora smiles, and tells me she studies environmental sciences just outside of where they live. ‘’We haven’t visiting our mum as much since I started university,’’ She adds with a sigh. ‘’I’m nineteen.’’ She clarified, which encouraged the others to tell me about themselves. She was the eldest, two years older than Yan. He and Darko were a year apart. Iliya was the youngest at fourteen. Zora, Darko and Iliya have glasses. Iliya and Zora have rectangular frames, but Darko’s are wider and rounded. Rob wakes up and properly introduces himself, they exchange a short conversation in Bulgarian, and Rob acts much like Iliya in his quiet manner. Eventually, he goes back to sleep.

The rest of the trip goes relatively well, I make short conversation with Darko and Zora every so often, and Rob remains asleep. Yan pulls out his own book, though his phone stays close. Iliya’s attention goes back to his book, but twenty minutes before the train is due to stop, he starts to fiddle and lifts his head often. He sighs and stares out the window as an attempt to get his concentration back. He smiles as he watches the sunset. Tapping Darko’s shoulder every now and then, they watch the sky together.

When we are to get off, Rob has just reawoken. He bids then a good trip in Bulgarian, and Iliya forgets his book in the chair. I rush up to him, but he doesn’t turn. Following Darko’s example from earlier, I tap his shoulder lightly to get his attention. He looks apologetic as he points to his ear, and nods his thanks.

We walk behind them, and wave as they stand near the parking lot. Rob and I wait for a taxi at the curb. I look back to the family, smiling to myself. The blur of auburn makes it harder to distinguish one sibling from the other, but they all look to be having fun. Darko and Yan fool around with their luggage, spin it it until it threatens to fall. Zora watches Iliya’s hands move, but unlike his earlier fidgets, they move with purpose. ‘’He’s signing,’’ Rob says, following my gaze.

‘’Is he deaf?’’ I ask, wondering whether that’s what he’d been talking about with Darko.

Rob shakes his head. ‘’He’s hard of hearing. Notice how he fiddled with his left ear a lot?’’ I nod. ‘’He was playing with his hearing aid. Darko told me in noisy places, he often hears background noise better than the rest.’’ Darko is now sitting on the luggage, and Yan reads beside him. Zora and Iliya are still talking, but the conversation falters as I watch.

‘’Is that why he wasn’t talking? I saw him talk to Yan, though.’’ I question. Earlier in the train ride, they had been talking but, the longer it went on, the louder Iliya’s voice was.

‘’He’s also mute, but sometimes he talks to his siblings. That’s why he mouths a lot. It was also harder for him to sign in public ‘cause he’s shy.’’ Rob explains. ‘’Darko told me he’s usually okay with it all, but gets overwhelmed by crowds. It makes him quieter.’’

A taxi arrives ten minutes later, and the family isn’t gone yet. Zora and Yan are talking now, and Darko dances around as Iliya plays with the luggage. The taxi pulls away, and my attention is drawn back to the cab. Rob sits quietly, and reaches over to rub my knee affectionately. My family better behave while I’m there.

In the Meadow – the Making of a Memory

I sat in the meadow, smiling to myself. For the first time in a while, I felt comfortable being completely alone. My whole life, I thought that going somewhere where my spirits were lifted was something I should do in the company of others, of people I could trust. By the time I was a teenager, ‘trust’ had changed to ‘treat like family’.

And perhaps, the word family had been romanticized to mean something better than friendship, something that would be around forever. It meant I could trust them to be courteous and to have those same feelings about me.

Maybe it was the idea of good company that made the trip better, made it feel less lonely; but now I could see that being alone wasn’t a bad thing, and being in good company didn’t have to make a great place better. I had good memories of being here in company, but surely I could make nice memories on my own.

 

In the meadow, the grass was tall. There are some green meadows with pretty flowers and trees surrounding it, but not this one. The particular meadow was filled with tall yellowing grass, hardly any flowers in sight. I sighed to myself, reaching for my left ear. I closed my eyes as the noise level dropped. There, I thought, that makes being here even better.

The weight of the aid was something I got used to quickly, but the noise was different. Everything felt louder. Too loud, even. The echo eventually stopped, and it felt better, but I didn’t get used to the clarity and loudness until later. Sometimes even now, I felt better when it was out. I couldn’t hear the world, and I was okay. I often felt like nature, the city, and almost everything really, would be more peaceful if I couldn’t hear it. I couldn’t hear my five siblings bickering in the background, or the cars rumbling past as I sat at my desk. Silence was something to appreciate. I felt that way before I got the aid, so one could only imagine how much more strongly I felt about the idea afterward. Sometimes, the aid was around my ear, but not connected. That way I could feel the silence, appreciate my surroundings more.

 

The meadow was quieter now without the ‘artificial hearing,’ and there wasn’t the loudness of the wind around me. When I first got the aid, background noise was almost all I heard, shooting directly at my ear. I got frustrated with the lack of control I had between background and foreground noises. As everything else, I got used to it – tuned it out even.

The lack of noise almost made me sleepy as I closed my eyes again. The sun shone, and every once in a while, it passed over my closed eyes, brightening my black vision. Around me, almost all I hear is the rustling of grass wisp of wind and the birds. When the nearby flap of wings shattered my thoughts, I opened my eyes. The sky was greyer, but the sun shone from behind the clouds. Everything looked darker, but I could see just as clearly. A few meters away, a bird whose species I didn’t know watched me. I sat up, breathing in deeply. My hand comes up to touch the grass and I felt it shift under the wind. I resisted the urge to laugh as it tickled my palm.

 

I wondered what this would be like if the city was nearby. Whether airplanes would interrupt the quietness of the wind and birds, whether there’d be more people in the clearing. I imagined being completely deaf, without birds to listen to or buzzing bugs to hear. I watched the grass shift under the wind’s the current, shivering as the chill hit my back. Wind picked up for a minute and I lay down to watch the sky, ignoring my hair as it obscured my vision whenever the wind hit. Memories of getting used to the aid filled my mind.

My first time in public, downtown. It was far too loud.

My first time at a family gathering, while it was still very echoey. That was disorienting.

My first time at a restaurant. Also very loud.

My first time in a meadow. There were a lot of chirping birds.

Conclusion: it was damn loud and weird.

I remember, everyone thought my hearing was normal with a hearing aid, but it was still weaker. Especially at the beginning, where it was mostly echo anyway. (“What was that,” I’d ask. “I don’t know, you’re the one with the hearing aid,” they’d answer.) It wasn’t normal, just better – more compatible. Instead of thirty and eighty percent, it was eighty in both. Sure, I could hear a conversation that wasn’t in the same room a bit more clearly, but so could everyone else. Sure, I could hear someone approaching me, so I wasn’t as jumpy, but everyone could too. Sure, I could hear music coming from a different floor, but I’d never been able to beforehand, while everyone else could.

 

Comfortable on the yellow grass, I felt like I should fall asleep. Like I should forget everything. Like shutting off my brain would be best at the moment. At least I wasn’t bored, I figured as I got up. I plugged the aid back in, closing my eyes to welcome the more prominent sound of birds and crickets. Stretching, I looked around; the meadow was calmer, less windy. The sky was darker, but it didn’t look like it was going to rain. I walked around, breathing in the fresh air. At least there was fresh air, nothing that would cause a claustrophobic panic attack. I scoffed, sighing – even with the fresh air; this place is still way too open. I didn’t like large spaces either, especially not when I was alone.

I kept walking, looking back from the sky to the yellow grass moving beneath my feet. Far away, as if I was in the center, I could see the entrance to a forest on both sides, but behind me and at the, horizon was open space. I suddenly felt like running until I regretted, it lungs burning. Here goes, I thought, sighing. I’m going to stay in this meadow for as long as I can. I will not think, but I will run. I am free.

Freedom was best served warm.