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Rock Candy Kisses

By:Addison Moore

Rock Candy Kisses
Addison Moore

       Prologue





I wish I could say that being born profoundly deaf hasn't shaped my  life, that it hadn't forged my heart to favor deaf culture in a hearing  world, but it did both those things-after all, after the light of  honesty is shed, it was inevitable. But my craving to fit in still  lingered, that too was inevitable. When I was seven I sat in the school  auditorium with my class and the interpreter my parents hired to shadow  me. There was a group of high school students improvising on stage, a  comedy-a tragedy if you ask me. One of them came over to where I was  sitting. He mimicked my interpreter and brought down the house with  laughter. I was devastated. I couldn't understand why all of my friends,  the entire school, would think that was funny. There was only one  person in that room that wasn't laughing, and it was me. It didn't take  long for my parents to move me to the Quincy School for the Deaf and  Hard of Hearing. I was filled with relief. Dorm life was heavenly. Aside  from our education, we played sports, board games, held book clubs, and  curled up in the common room to watch closed-captioned TV. I made great  friendships there, solid as iron. And having those people in my life is  the sole reason I wouldn't trade how I was born for anything.

But I'm not seven anymore. I'm nineteen. I'm not at Quincy. I'm at  Whitney Briggs University. Life is different, but then I knew it would  be-although not for reasons you might think.

It's different because I met Him.





Whitney Briggs University





Annie





Fall is my favorite time of year. The riot of color that nature displays  leaves me breathless. Cool winds replace the scorching sun as the  landscape transforms into a spectrum of crimson and gold. It's a visual  feast that I wait three whole seasons to gorge on.

Baya and Bryson are busy with a conversation of their own as they  enthusiastically walk me through campus like a kindergartner they're  escorting to the first day of school. It's technically not my first day  at Whitney Briggs University. I moved into my dorm weeks ago. I've spent  the interim getting to know the grounds with my roommate, Marley, but  my brother and his new wife feel the need to walk me directly to the  door of my sociology class. Baya and Bryson recently married this past  summer in a double wedding with their best friends, Laney and Ryder. I  love them with all my heart, but I can't help but feel like a child  under their wings. It's not like I wasn't warned. When my friends heard I  was coming to Whitney Briggs, they frowned at the fact my brother and  Baya were within hovering distance. Usually living so close wouldn't be a  big deal, but everyone at the Quincy School for the Deaf and Hard of  Hearing understands all too well how stifling family can unwittingly be.

Bryson picks up my hand-case in point. I try to wriggle free, but he  clasps on tight as if saving me from falling into a bottomless pit.  Crowds of girls waltz by, each one of them tossing their slanted stares  to my brother. I'm sure Baya is used to having strange girls ogle her  new husband. Both of my brothers are handsome and far too protective of  their little sister than they need to be.

The girls pause their animated gestures a moment as their heads swivel  after Bryson. Their sweet perfume mingles with the scent of new  clothes-and I note that not one of them is holding their brother's hand.  I pause, pulling him back and wait for Baya to stumble over.

"What's wrong?" The terror on her face says it all. Baya is beautiful,  and bubbly, and I'm thrilled to pieces that she's my new sister-in-law  but …

I shake my head to assure her nothing is off kilter.

There's a literal fork in the cobbled road, and I'm pretty sure this is as good a place as any to break it to them.

I've got it from here, I sign. Please don't take this the wrong way, but  I think there's something symbolic about me getting to class on my own.  I've looked forward to this moment for as long as I can remember,  and-well, I want to do this myself.

The hurt look on my brother's face says more than I can stand. A cool breeze whips by and ices my bare ankles.

Bryson sags into me while a dull grin breaks loose on his face. He signs  back, I know you've got this, kid. "She wants to head out on her own,"  he says to Baya before pulling me into a tight embrace.

I can read pretty much anyone's lips. It takes some getting used to at  first, but, after a while, it can be just as efficient as signing. There  are a few people with whom I can't quite catch every word. But, with  the exception of the occasional mumbler, I get by pretty well.

Baya pulls me in, and I can feel her throat vibrating against my  shoulder. It's easy for people to forget that if I can't see their lips,  I don't know what they're saying. I pull back and dot my mouth with my  finger.                       
       
           



       

"Sorry!" She grimaces. "Are you coming to the bar tonight?" Baya has a  tendency to over annunciate, and that's fine by me. In reality it makes  things easier, but I'd rather she didn't. I don't want to be treated any  different than she treats Laney or Izzy, or anyone else for that  matter.

I nod and give a thumbs up. Apparently the first day of school is a  pretty big deal at the Black Bear. There's a local band performing  tonight, plus the student body gets half off all drinks. My brothers and  I bought out my father's three bars last summer, the Black Bear being  one of them. Despite the fact I've just turned nineteen and don't make a  habit of downing alcohol-laden libations, it's pretty amazing to be  business partners with my brothers.

Bryson and Baya each offer an insecure wave as they take off. They both  hold the same coloring, and from here they look as if they can be  brother and sister as easy as they can be husband and wife. It's a weird  thought, but oddly enough I specialize in weird thoughts. I suppose  that's a side effect of years of living in my own bubble. That was the  nice thing about Quincy, while I was at school I was never alone in that  bubble.

Bryson signs for me to text him as I head on my way.

The wind picks up, and a maple rattles its already yellowing leaves. The  earth lets go of its raw, wet scent from last night's rain, and I take  in the robustness of nature at its ripest. For the last eight years of  my life, I've been a fulltime resident at the Quincy school for the Deaf  and Hard of Hearing, nothing but a saturation of deaf culture and a  shared sense of self with every single person that surrounded me there.  And, here, at Whitney Briggs I'm pretty much alone with everyday people  who have never known a world without sound, a world with hard borders  much like that of a picture.

An overgrown oak sits stoically in front of the English building with  its fat, hand-shaped leaves dripping magenta and ruby. My fingers dip  into my purse as I feel for my camera. I'm certain my favorite course of  the day will be my final class, Digital Studios. I've loved photography  ever since I was seven, and my parents, a.k.a. Santa, gifted me a hot  pink Barbie camera.

A skateboard whizzes in my direction, and I carefully maneuver into the  center of the walkway. A group of girls hurry by, and one of them knocks  into my shoulder. She gives a polite wave, and I can see her lips  curving into an apology before turning away.

Kaya, my best friend at Quincy, warned me that life is very different (I  believe the word she used was scary) out in what she's dubbed the real  world. She's at Texas A & M, apparently having her fair share of  scary experiences. I fish my phone out to send her a quick text. Life is  beautiful. Nothing scary at Whitney Briggs! It's not too late to apply  for spring semester. Before I can hit send, a body lunges at me and  whisks me into an overgrown dogwood. My phone flies right out of my  hand, and, just as I'm about to dive after it, a squared off delivery  truck whizzes by, missing me by inches.

My heart pounds wild in my chest. My head throbs and pulsates, threatening to explode as I take in what just happened.

I glance at the person who pulled me to safety-a boy, older by a few  years, handsome to the point of nausea. He's saying something, his face  filled with concern. His dark hair lies over his head like a shadow, his  brown eyes are marbled with shades of emerald, and a part of me wants  to freeze time and stay here all day. At least that way I won't have to  face the fact I almost found myself pinned under a tire.

A mean shudder ripples through me at the thought.

Oh, God. I have to get out of here. I pull my book bag off the ground  and scramble for my phone nearly getting my hand run over by a bicycle.  Wow, I'm really on fire today. I'll have to do a roll call of my limbs  if I ever get back to my dorm in one piece. My body spikes with heat. I  can practically feel my mother panicking when I fill her in on my first  day of misadventures, not that I plan on sharing this tidbit with her.  All I need is another lecture on how beneficial the Excel Implant will  be. I understand the fact that hearing is valuable, but all I see is red  (as in blood) whenever I envision myself on that operating table. It's  enough to make me want to pass out on the spot and inadvertently feed  myself to the tire gods.

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