Life Is Unpredictable

March 31, 2012
Her long, curly brown hair was never out of place. Her full pink lips always glimmered from lip gloss. Her teeth were as straight as a brand new fence. Her eyes sparkled, a window to the starry night sky. She was a balloon, floating above everyone else, always cheerful. But there was one problem. Jasmine McClaire was deaf.

She had been in my class ever since I could remember. From puny, block playing tots to “sophisticated” rulers of the school. As we got into middle school, I saw less and less of Jasmine. It wasn’t a bad thing, and wasn’t a good thing either. Like seeing a movie that was based on a book, but with some changes. You dislike the changes, but find it a good movie none the less.

Jasmine always had an interpreter with her. Normally it was an older lady with a kind smile. Everyone would talk to Jasmine’s interpreter instead of her. It happened quite a lot, so once in a while, people needed to be reminded that Jasmine was an actual person.

She had a normal family. She had an older brother that all the girls were in love with. She had two loving parents. Everyone thought it was weird that she was the only oddball. And in Northern Kansas, there aren’t many deaf people. I’m sure if there were, Jasmine would be in a special school. I think I was always wondering why the McClaires put Jasmine through the torture of public school. Why didn’t they just move so she could be comfortable?

I was walking home after school one brisk fall day when I saw some older guys picking on someone. I rolled my eyes. People were always bullying others smaller than themselves. It was just a part of high school.

As I walked past them, I tried to hear what they were saying. They were yelling, so I didn’t have to strain my ears that much.

Davidson, the school bully was yelling something along the lines of, “Yo! Can you hear me?!”

His other minions were laughing their heads off. That remark caught my curiosity. I looked over and saw a scene that shocked me.

Davidson and his cronies were bullying a kid as usual. But today, their victim was Jasmine.

For some reason, I felt absolute rage growing inside me. Normally I didn’t care what Davidson did, but this was too much.

I stalked over to the group. Jasmine was in the middle of the circle of bullies. Her book bag was open and the contents were strewn all over the grass. Strangely, her interpreter was nowhere to be found.

Before I knew what was happening, I found myself marching straight up to Davidson.

“What the heck do you think you’re doing?!” I shouted. Davidson, knowing full well that I could easily give him a knuckle sandwich, ran off. His stupid minions followed their pathetic ruler.

Jasmine looked at me, her eyes full of wonder, asking questions that she couldn’t voice. I gave her a small smile, and walked away. At the time, I didn’t know why I left her like that, but later I realized it. I was afraid.

Over the next few weeks, I pretty much avoided Jasmine. I don’t know why. I was probably afraid of communicating with a deaf girl.

One day, I was walking out of the library when I heard someone behind me say, “Hi.”

I turned around, startled. Jasmine’s dark blue eyes looked up at me. I looked around for her interpreter, but it was just us two in that hall. I started to worry. How was I supposed to talk to someone who couldn’t hear me??

“Don’t worry,” she said, as if sensing my discomfort. “I can read lips.” She smiled.

I blinked in surprise. I had never known deaf people could speak! I mean, Jasmine didn’t sound perfect, but she still surprised me. I guess that just proved how little I knew.

“Oh, hi,” I nodded. We began walking slowly down the hallway, Jasmine’s eyes on my face.

“What do you have there?” she asked, pointing at the book I had just borrowed from the library. I held it up so she could see. It was called Sign Language 101.

Jasmine gave me a big smile. “You get that out for me?”

I cleared my throat. “Yeah.”

“Here, let me help you practice!” She brought me over to a bench and sat down. She opened the book with delicate hands and pointed to a picture.

“Morning,” Jasmine said, while signing what the pictures in the book showed. I copied her hand movements.

We went on like this for a while, until Jasmine had showed me how to sign the basics, such as the letters and numbers, and things like “Hello, I’m Nate.”

As we signed goodbye, I stood watching her for a minute. I never had learned so much in such a short amount of time. I guess it just depends on the teacher.

Over the next year, I slowly became fluent in American Sign Language. I got to know Jasmine even better than I did before. The reason she could talk and read lips well is because she wasn’t deaf from birth. She caught a disease when she was about two, causing her to go deaf. She had already learned to talk, and heard people talking around her, so it stuck with her. I met some of her deaf friends that she had met on vacation. We grew very close. When I was talking to my “hearing friends”, as Jasmine called them, I found myself signing along.

It’s funny how just one small act like standing up to a bully could lead to so many other, new things. It just goes to show you that life is unpredictable.





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Tara_Bites said...
Jan. 16, 2014 at 9:18 am
This was really good!!!! Definitely caught my attention! ^---^
 
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