A red patch of flesh pulsed on my fingers. My brother had made pancakes for breakfast. I, being a sweet sister, grabbed the skillet to wash it for him, burning my hand. He hadn’t mentioned it was still hot, but when he saw my burn he began to laugh.
He hadn’t heard me screech in pain or heard the pan slam against the tile floor of our kitchen. He hasn’t heard a single thing, ever, because my darling brother is deaf.
He brought his flat hand up and slapped it against his forehead – the sign for stupid.
My fingers – the ones that weren’t suffering third-degree burns – flew in a fit to silently defend myself. I was fierce as I scolded him for not warning me.
All he could do was shake with laughter. His hand was shaped in a thumbs-up as he pulled it away from the bottom of his chin. Not.
Then it morphed into a flat surface, and he slammed it against his chest. My.
Finally, he bent his fingers, cupping the air. He poked his heart, twisting it to the side, jamming his thumb into his sternum. Fault.
I waved at him, letting him know it was okay.
His index finger crashed into the center of his chest, a silent crash. I.
Then he gathered the rest of his fingers into a bunch, joining them at the tips, and pulled away from his chest like he was stretching a string. Leave.
His eyebrows hit the boundaries of his forehead. He was going to ask me a question before he went.
His index finger was pointed at me. You.
He bent the same finger into a hook and propelled it toward the ground. Need.
Then his hand softened into a relaxed flat palm. It hopped away from his left palm, also flat, toward the vacant air. Thing.
He was asking me if I needed anything.
I shook my head and smiled. His hand spit an O and a K into the air. Okay.
I could feel it coming, my favorite sign. His pinkie, index finger, and thumb were upright, the other two fingers down. I love you. He was saying he loved me without making any sound at all.
My hand flipped up from my side and I bent my fingers like his, flashing it back. I love you.
It’s the same love I feel when those words are spoken aloud. It feels just as sweet in the form of two fingers and a thumb.
He loves me.
I love him.
And that is that.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.