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Without Sound

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I'm onstage, and my breath is coming quickly. Everything feels unreal, twisted and cloudy, like in dreams.

I can't tell if this is a dream. Everyone is looking at me, expecting, waiting, hoping, drifting.

I open my mouth and will the noise to come out from somewhere in my chest, even though I’ve forgotten how to speak. I don’t remember how to breathe, and everything is swimming. I watch as the silence becomes uncomfortable, as the squeaking of seats begins to indicate that my audience is becoming restless. They'd rather hear me deliver a speech, even if they don’t want to listen to it. Why do they want to hear? Why do they stay in their seats?

I see a girl glance longingly out the window at the sunny streets. Why doesn’t she go? Why doesn’t she run outside and dance in the sunlight? I know she wants to. Why does she stay inside, where it is cold and damp, waiting for a classmate she has never before laid eyes on to speak about something she doesn’t understand?

Suddenly, I don’t want to be onstage. I don’t want everyone’s eyes to be on me. I don’t want to be here, I have to escape, because the room is a prison and the stage is the cell, with an audience of silence and wandering minds.

With trembling hands, I take the microphone and let my fingers curl around the hard, dead plastic. I feel the power as I breathe into it and hear my own breath reverberate around the room.

As I begin to speak, I realize that nobody is listening. Nobody is understanding what I am saying. The room is blank. Everybody is staring out the window, unaware of me.

And then I realize. Everybody in this room is deaf. I have to use my hands, to sign my words without sound.

As I begin, one by one the faces turn towards me. They are absorbed in the movement of my hands, the expressions on my face. The words are a melody, the colors showering out from my eyes as I tell the stories I could never say out loud.

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