T.W. This chapter will contain a derogatory term towards those who have disabilities. Please read with caution if this may trigger you.
The first day was going smoothly so far. It was nice having classmates ask questions without it feeling uncomfortable, having teachers who would repeat things even though I had Ms. Renee (my interpreter) had understood just in case, and I could tell Eren was trying his best to make me feel welcome and I was. During our second period, Eren asked if I'd like to have lunch with him and his friends. Of course, I said okay but I'm a bit nervous. Meeting and getting to know people was always so hard which is why I looked for people online. Talking with Eren for the first time, I was super nervous. He was my first online friend and finding out we'd be going to the same school made everything so much better. I felt like I'd walk in having at least one friend.
Now I could talk with him whenever. It was lunchtime now and during lunch, my interpreter would not be there. It was the time when I'd like to try and do things on my own and my parents didn't think it was a good idea but I eventually got them to agree to let me have lunch to myself. I did think it would be hard to navigate but having my own lunch and now having a place to sit would make things easier on me. When I entered the cafeteria, I was surprised by how large it was. There was an upstairs! I looked around for Eren in the sea of people walking into the cafeteria for lunch. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned my head, seeing Eren beside me, smiling. Smiling that cute smile, paired with that handsome face...then he started to speak.
He said something just now...Oh wait, he said something, I'm getting spaced out. I shake my head and he smirks and takes out his notepad and writes down:
"You ready? I can take you to my table."
I look up at him and nod and he takes my hand. I feel my cheeks burn a bit as he leads me upstairs to the other tables and we approach a table with two girls talking and a guy on his phone. We stop and I look at Eren while he introduces his friends.
"Charlie, this is Jenaveve, Annette, and Theo." He says. Reading his lips, I nod and wave to them as they smile and wave back. Eren and I sit down and Eren takes out his notepad, telling them to write on it if they wanna tell me something. Annette takes the notepad and writes, handing it to me.
"I hope school is going well for you, I know how being the new kid can be. I came here last year and I was nervous at first but then I met these dorks and my schoolyear went smoothly."
I smile at her, being the new kid is so weird. I'm hoping that I fit in. It's nice having someone with a somewhat similar experience. Jenaveve tapped the table and I looked up. Then she took me by surprise. She started to sign.
"I know sign language but would it be alright if we tried communicating through text? It could make things a bit easier and be faster to talk to one another." she signed. I nodded and we all agreed to exchange numbers. We created a group chat so that all of us could talk. I was still surprised that one of Eren's friends knew sign language. We all ate and talked until it was time to leave for our fourth period. I finally was gonna go to creative writing. We all separate and I meet up with Ms. Renee before heading to my class.
I started to become interested in writing when I was in second grade. It had been almost a year since I had lost my hearing and I was feeling left out around other students. My teacher then came up with a way for us to share how we were feeling. Each morning we wrote in a journal how we were feeling and during the day, we would talk about how our day went and what we did. Then at the end of the day, we could share or just put our notebooks into a bin for the next day. By writing down how I felt, I was able to convey my feelings differently than by talking. Over time, we learned to write new things and write longer summaries. In fifth grade, right before our graduation, my teacher asked me to write a speech. I still have a speech in my old stack of notebooks. I remember how hard it was to speak in front of so many people, especially since I couldn't hear. I remember seeing people laugh and others whisper. After the speech, I cried but my parents told me how well I did and said I should keep writing. So I continued to pursue writing.
I carry around a personal notebook in my bag for when I get an idea for a short story or wanna brainstorm. I enter the classroom and sit down. The class runs smoothly at first and then our teacher gives up a short writing assignment and we get paired up. I get paired up with a girl who I notice was in my ASL class. I wave at her as I walk over but she turns her head and ignores me. Oh gosh. I sit down nervously and we start the assignment. My teacher is discussing the material we'll be doing with my interpreter so she can inform me later and I feel a bit nervous as the girl I've been partnered up with continues to ignore me. We write things down together but it feels like she isn't trying. She writes short sentences with little detail or feeling.
I try to ignore it and continue the assignment. I write down a detail that includes how I'm deaf and she stares at the section for a moment and smiles. She looks at me and snickers. I wish I could say she was getting ready to say something that would assure me that she understood but I'd be lying.
She opened her mouth and said, "What's it like being a defect?"