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Defect

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There’s something strange about me. I don’t really get what it is –or why it’s happened to me –and neither does any other doctor out there. One month I go blind, and the next month I get my sight back but I become deaf. Then it goes back and forth, changing exactly at the very end of the month.
Stella, my older sister, has kept the fact that she’s my sister from everyone at the high school. She tells me it’s just for my safety of lesser humiliation. But I’m not stupid. I’m a freak and she’s embarrassed because of it. Yeah, well sophomores like me were never cool anyway.
Mom became way over-protective when it happened (when I turned four) like a mother wolf or something. Dad…well, I don’t know where Dad is.
When I’m blind, I have to go to school without shoes (it’s easier to know where I’m going when I can feel the vibrations of everything under my feet) so I can’t be on the basketball team. When I’m deaf, I can’t hear music, so I can’t be in choir (though I’m the master of lip-reading). It’s really frustrating; even the teachers hate me for having such a freaking horrible life.
Right now, I’m supposed to meet my shrink, Paul What’s-his-name, today. Mom thinks I need one or else I’ll commit suicide or something stupid like that. A shrink! That’s terrible! Jenna, my best friend, will even laugh at me for that!
So anyways, Mom was driving like twenty miles per hour on the highway, thinking I’ll hurl if she went any faster. I seriously think she’s the one that needs the psychologist. Not me.
After being stopped by the cops twice for not speeding up a little, we reached a large yellow house. Jeez, this Paul guys looks as if he lives with his grandmother.

I pounded at the door –hard –unable to hear how loud I was (being deaf and all). Mom gently put my hands at my side and said, “Nellie, you’ll hurt yourself.” Seriously? I brushed her off as the door opened to a young guy, probably in his early twenties, with flaming red –no orange –like a basketball. He was pretty cute.

“Hello, Nellie, I’m Paul Trainor, Nice to meet you.”

“Sup,” I mumbled. I can’t believe my Mom is doing this to me. Paul led me to the living room trying to get Mom to wait in the kitchen. But she wanted to see if his certificates were real. Once that was settled, he came over with a notebook in hand.

“Okay, I’m just going to be clear on this for you. I’m not one to beat around the bush much. And I’ll admit you are my first client, so you’ll have to forgive me.” He was speaking kind of fast so I almost couldn’t understand what he was saying. Instead, I nodded.

“Tell me Nellie, how do you feel being in the condition you’re in?” Wow. That was straightforward. Huh.

“Paul, I don’t think you’ll be able to understand how I feel. No one does.”

“I know more than you think.”

“Then what? I’m different from the rest of the world, so people think its okay to call me a freak. They think just because I lose one of my senses, they think I don’t hear or understand what they say behind my back,” I said hotly.

I expected his pen to fly across that notebook of his, writing about everything I said, but instead he just nodded, waiting patiently for me to go on.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. What do you do to solve your problem?” Hello? Dealing with a problem like that ends up with me being labeled “RAT” for the rest of my life.

“I ignore them.”

“What would you want other people to see you as?” he asked nonchalantly. I CANNOT believe he just asked me that.

“Nothing,” I mutter. Human, I thought. I’d like them to see me as a human being.

“Really? Cause, I’d want them to see me as a human being just like them.” he replied as if he read my mind.

How’d you know?” I confess I am amazed.

“Nellie, to be honest, I’m just like you.” He put his notebook on the coffee table. “Look at my eyes. You see how they’ve lost the color in the iris? Yeah, I’m blind right now. That’s why when I heard about you, I jumped at the chance of meeting you. We’re the same.”

A giant wave of fear and relief washed over me. Fear that this guy was insane and relief that I wasn’t the only one.

“Oh,” I whispered.

“Are you…blind too? Right now?” he questioned vigilantly.

“Um…no. I’m deaf. I read lips. I’m guessing we have different months.”

An awkward silence passed. Mom’s voice echoed down the hall. “What’re you two whispering about? I can’t hear you!” Oh, Mom.

“Which sense do you least favor? I don’t mind if my ears are gone. I just want to see.” I told him.

“Personally, one should be grateful for all the senses but in our case, I don’t care about my eyes. I can see with my ears and feet.”

I waited another moment. “Why did this happen to us?”

“I don’t know. We just have to embrace it. But some good comes out of it. It makes our other senses stronger. Like my ears –I can hear things from 5 miles if I wanted to, and because you can’t hear anything, your eyesight is so strong that you can’t detect every word a person says. We’re special that way.”

Wow, I never thought of it that way. Still, it’s weird. I still loathe what I am.

“Don’t be tense,” he began. “Haven’t you heard the quote ‘Always remember, you’re absolutely unique, just like everybody else’? You’re just one of a kind.”

“Nobody likes me. They all think I’m a disease.”

“That’s because you’re different. In this world, people react badly to difference. They’re afraid of change. Don’t take to heart. They’ll come around.” Paul tried to cheer me up with one of his few stories from when he was in high school. I laughed along with him, forgetting he was the psychologist.

“Well the funniest thing that’s ever happened to me was when I dropped a RED slushie on a cheerleader’s WHITE skirt. It’s hilarious how they all start freaking out.”

By the time my appointment was over, we had gone through half of the stories.

“Well, times up. I’ll see you next week. I’m glad we could talk….. Maybe, you and I –with our friends, of course –could go catch a movie, or something,” he shyly suggested.

I smiled.

“Yeah. I’d like that.”

Mom had to drag me out of there into the car. “Nellie, did that first appointment change anything? I mean now you know there’s someone else just like you.” Huh, so mom knew about him.

“No, I still don’t like what’s going on, but I’m just glad I got super-vision. That ought to be enough.”


Monday morning, before 1st period, I tried to talk to Jenna about seeing a shrink, but she TOTALLY ignored me. She saw me but she walked right past me and started talking to the Cheerleaders! Just last week she was complaining about how everyone gave cheerleaders too much respect for no reason. She turned to give me an apologetic smile. I looked at her with total shock. How could she, the only normal person who has accepted me, do this to me?

Later that day, before lunch, Jenna pulled me into the restrooms.

“Jenna, why are you hanging out with them? You hate them!”

“No, you do. I’m going to Tammie’s (head cheerleader) sweet 16 this weekend. I’m going to be in the In-Group.”

“They’ve hated you since the 7th grade! They’re always mean.”

“No, they’ve hated you because of that slushie accident. They were mean to me because I hung out with you. But now I’m tired of it. I can’t hang out with you anymore.” Then she walked away.

Yeah, real accepting Paul. Humph.

That night I waited until the clock hit midnight. It’ll finally be November. I’ll be able to hear again. Slowly my vision faded until everything turned black. There was no use calling Paul. He wouldn’t be able to hear me through the phone since he’s deaf. Jeez, this is going to be a long week.

And it was. A long week, I mean. Each day, Jenna taunted me with the fact that she was cooler than me.

Sunday came slowly. The second it was time to go to Paul’s house, I pulled Mom into the car, ready to go. “See, I knew that this would be good for you!” she commented.



Once we got there, I knocked on the door though it was pointless. He couldn’t hear me anyway.

The door opened slowly, and I felt a rush of cool air from inside.

“Afternoon, you’re early.”

After we settled in the living room again, I began telling him about Jenna. Then I reminded him about his promise about people finally tolerating me. At the end, I could feel tears threatening to fall. “I’m so alone.”

“It’s the 21st century. People aren’t nice and nothing will change the fact. I’m not saying everyone will be okay with you. I am promising you that when the time comes people will turn around and see someone they regret not seeing before. Alright?”

“So what do I do? I don’t want to be a loner.”

“Now you tell me that Jenna hates cheerleaders, am I right? Eventually, she’ll get tired of them and come crawling back to you.

Then I cracked.

“God, why do I have to be a freak? I could be a great athlete and a singer if only I were normal. I hate this so much!” I put my head into my hands and cried for who knows ho long. Paul didn’t say any comforting words, and I didn’t care.

“If you don’t accept yourself, no one will show any of the respect you want. I have plenty of friends who love and care for me because I don’t let my condition bother me, and neither should you. I lived my life the way I wanted, not the way it wanted.”

The appointment was over.

And I think so was our sort-of date.

Monday, Paul’s prediction came true. Jenna came to me sobbing. It was all a trick. She was crowned the biggest loser, and Tammie also took the liberty to point out that Jenna was worse than me. Even though Jenna betrayed me, I comforted her and told her that I didn’t think she was a loser.

“You know what Nell? Sometimes you’re so annoying when you complain about how your life sucks. You’re such an idiot.” I was taken back. WHAT?

“I have my own reasons.” I replied.

“No you don’t. You’re not a freak. There’s no such thing as normal, so quit being such a downer on things. Promise me, now.”

Gawd, people are seriously getting on my case about this. They just haven’t figured that I already have accepted myself. The fact that I’ll be one of the crippled for life, I‘ve already taken it in.

“Sure, I promise.” I swear, if one more person asks me to “accept” myself (scoff), I’m out. By next week, I’ll be out of Paul’s place forever (turns out his grandma does live upstairs), but I’ll have to convince Mom to go there. She’s been twitching for a while now. I wonder if it’s the bills again….





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