Okay, I apologize in advance for any formatting errors (again). This is manuscript 3, haven’t submitted it yet. I will email it tomorrow to my teacher, hopefully. We’ll see what she has to say about it. Here were the instructions: “Imagine a seemingly peaceful family of four–mother, father, daughter, son–sitting at the dinner table. One of them has a confession to make to the family, but is afraid to reveal it. Through the subleties of body language and dropped hints, the confession is divulged, though it is never explicitly expressed. Who has the confession to make? What is it? How is it divulged? What is the family’s reaction? What is the confessor’s reaction to the family? (by Tom DeMarchi, Florida Int’l Univ., Miami). My teacher allows for a little rule bending too. Anyway, this is obviously a fictional scenario (the acceptance letter), but most of the elements are true. This would be exactly how I see my family reacting, if I did ever want to transfer to Gallaudet. Does this sound more authentic?
Mona was sitting on her bed, leaning up against the wall, re-reading a letter she had gotten in the mail and relishing the absolute silence, when she felt the vibration of someone knocking on her door. She quickly flipped on her hearing aid as she said, “Come in.”
Her mom came in. “Time for dinner,” she said, leaving the door open.
“Just a minute!” Mona called after her, taking the letter and locking it carefully into her jewelry box, the mahogany one with the pearl inlay that her aunt got for her in Okinawa. She heard a loud clatter and jumped, turning around to see if anybody was watching her, before realizing that the sound came from outside her open window—it was an unseasonably warm fall day—her friend was bringing in her trash cans. Mona waved and caught her friend’s eye.
Letter, good? her friend, Sara, signed. Mona had taught her some signs so they could communicate anywhere.
Accepted! Mona replied. Sara smiled and gave her the thumbs up. See you tomorrow, Mona signed, then putting on her cochlear implant processor, hurried to the dining room table, where her family was waiting. “Sorry,” she murmured, scooting in her chair. It scraped painfully loud on the tile floor, but it seemed to bother only her.
“Ready?” her dad asked, one eyebrow raised.
They did the sign of the cross and recited a prayer, “Bless us, O Lord, for thee Thy giveth, from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen,” and out of habit her dad closed the prayer with “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen,” just like he did when she and her brother were little and needed a cue to remember what to do.
It was spaghetti night, with salad (and Dorothy Lynch, of course), garlic bread, and milk. Everything was already served for them since they were just a family of four, as opposed to Sara’s large family, where all the kids were responsible for serving themselves.
Mom spoke, “so, Mona, did you get my message? That Sara has your mail?”
Mona was mid-bite, her eyes widened for a split-second before she recovered herself and held up a finger to indicate “just a minute” while she finished chewing. “Yep, got it when I got home.” Her brother then looked at her suspiciously. Mona shot him a look.
“What’s the matter?” Dad asked Mom, his voice rising slightly.
“Oh, nothing,” Mom dismissed with a wave of her hand. “The mailman accidentally delivered her mail to the wrong house.”
“Why didn’t you pick it up?”
Mom shrugged her shoulders.
“Okay…” Dad said, raising one eyebrow again, and ripped off a chunk of garlic bread and popped it into his mouth, chewing powerfully, his gaze wandering over to Mona, who suddenly remembered to eat, taking a large bite of spaghetti.
“It’s just an excuse for them to talk is all,” Mom spoke up quickly.
“Yeah,” Mona agreed out of the side of her mouth, then swallowed. “We don’t get to see each other much anymore.”
“So, when is she graduating?” he asked Mona.
“Spring. One more year.” Mona signed small while she talked.
“And she’s going to go to your college, right?”
Mona opened her mouth and paused, skipping a beat, then replied, nodding, “Um, yep.”
“She getting any scholarships?”
“She doesn’t know yet.”
“But she has the Chancellor’s Scholarship, right?”
“I don’t know.”
A short silence fell, filled with sounds of chewing. It was so loud now, Mona noticed, since she’s gotten the cochlear implant. A car drove my, the sound of its deep engine filling her cochlear ear uncomfortably to capacity, and she cringed slightly.
“I’m glad you have your Chancellor’s Scholarship.” Dad said after a while, in a loud voice. Mona cringed again, disguising it as a smile. Would he never understand that she can’t hear him very well when he talked like that? She thought to herself, then marveled at her own thinking, because she could both see the signs and hear the sound in her mind at the same time.
“You know, we’re real proud of you,” he said, continuing in his loud voice.
“Pardon?” she said, sighing inwardly at the same time. He’s my dad for Pete’s sake! You’d think he’d know better.
“We’re real proud of you,” he repeated, smiling.
“Thanks.” Mona drank her milk. She knew what was coming next. She shifted in her seat, and so did her brother.
“When we found out you were deaf, the doctor s aid you would never learn to read, write, speak, or hear, or amount to much of anything at all.”
Mona just knew it. She sat there. Anxiety flitted across her face.
“And now look at you! You’ve accomplished a lot. You have what, a 4.0?”At least he was sounding more normal now, Mona noticed.
“3.975. That one stupid A minus.”
“You know, I was just telling my students about you. They were impressed. Remember Lisa?”
“Yeah, she dropped off her paper the other night,” Mona remembered, poking at her lettuce casually.
“She said she didn’t know you were deaf. She said you sounded normal.” Dad ate another forkful of spaghetti.
Mona half-smiled. “Cool.” She wasn’t sure what to say. “Yeah, a lot of people at school think I’m hearing, too,” She took a small bite of her salad, “but then they see my hearing aid or cochlear implant—”
“Processor,” Mom corrected.
“—processor, whatever, anyway they start talking really loudly, or sometimes they’ll sign. Like. This,” she mimicked their awkward slowness,” and I’m like, um, hello, I heard you before, so what changed?”
Her brother laughed; he was taking ASL 1 now and thought he was completely enlightened as to Deaf issues.
“People are stupid,” her dad said, scraping his entire plate with his fork, then helped himself to more spaghetti.
“When hearing people see my hearing aids and read my stories, they think I’m deaf and not hearing.” Mona continued impulsively. “Then when Deaf people see the same things, they think I’m hearing and not deaf.” She sighed, and her shoulders sagged, but she quickly turned that into a shrug.
Mom looked at her, coming to a slow realization, but said nothing.
Dad didn’t notice; he was shaking Parmesan onto his plate. “So, how is sign language going?”
“Great! It really seems to make sense, like I just understand it, you know?” Excitement crept into her voice. “It’s really cool. I can’t believe I have only two more levels to go after this; I want to take more classes; I don’t want to forget anything! Oh, I almost forgot, I got an A on my ASL midterm.”
“Good for you!” her dad said, pleased.
“My midterm is tomorrow,” her brother said, getting up from the table. he put the silverware on his plate—how loud it was!—and took it out to the kitchen.
“It’s not too hard,” Mona told him when he came back to finish his milk. “He repeats the questions if people didn’t get it the first time around.” She put her napkin on her plate. “And did I tell you our teacher is Deaf?” she asked Dad. “He just graduated from Gallaudet.” She said all of this quickly, still signing simultaneously, because she was glad she knew sign.
At the mention of Gallaudet, the corners of her brother’s mouth turned up, sensing her excitement. “Was that letter from Gallaudet?”
“Ye—” Mona said, cutting herself off, and looked at her parents bewilderedly, searching for some sort of reaction.
“Gallaudet? Why?” Dad asked, dragging his hand across the top of his head, as he tends to do when stressed, his voice getting loud again. Mom looked almost sad.
“Oh, um,” Mona bit the inside of her lips. “Did you know that vocational rehabilitation will pay for your school costs?”
“Really? I didn’t know that,” Mom said, smiling tremulously. “That’s nice.”
“Mona,” Dad said, his voice deeper. His face was turning blotchy white and red, and she could see the redness through his thinning hair. He always groused that his receding hairline was due to the stress of trying to raise Mona and get her to sit still long enough to listen. Mona’s brother slowly sidled out of the room. “Did you know about this, son?” he asked him before he had the chance to disappear. He shrugged his shoulders.
Mona’s face was a deep red, and a tear of frustration streamed down her cheek. “You guys never will understand,” she said, struggling to keep her voice and hands steady, “will you?”