When I take out my hearing aids, things seem to happen.
Questions are asked: Can you hear me?
Looks sometimes loaded with envy,
I know the thoughts behind those
But it all hurts most when people say it.
“I wish I could do that”
People wish they could do that
But ‘that’ is not the same to them as it is to me.
‘That’ to them is a convenience,
To turn off the volume of the world
On a whim.
To me, 'that’ is a lifestyle,
A battle to be recognized and treated fairly.
You wish you could do that.
'That’ to me is having to ask someone to repeat themselves
Cause you know you didn’t hear correctly,
Or at all.
So they say Nevermind.
The word floats on a voice soaked in mild contempt.
'That’ is someone giving you the look
They’re expecting a response to something you didn’t hear.
Did they say something? Who said what? I’m lost here…
There’s an irritable sigh
Followed by a profuse apology for not hearing.
'That’ is going to school.
The teacher turns on a video, so you raise your hand.
You ask for captions.
She says there aren’t any, but you’re smart
It shouldn’t be a problem to decipher the wordless images.
'That’ is never seeing your struggle on any screen
The characters you know should be like you
Your sister asks why you’re frustrated, it’s just a movie.
'That’ is your hearing aid screeching with feedback
Or rubbing the wrong way
Or over amplifying
Nobody else is feeling that.
So you take them out.
Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (Quran 2:255)
It’s what the kids at school always said right before targeting Erin again. Taunting her with the knowledge that there was nothing she could do about any of it, that no one would believe her anyway. That the joke in question was her, and her life, and everything she believed in.
Or thought she believed in, at least. Apparently she had been labeled as crazy. ‘Schizophrenia’, her therapist had said. ‘Attention-seeking’, her parents had heard. ‘Crazy’, the general opinion seemed to be.
It was a lonely childhood, Erin keeping her head down and working her way through high school, hoping things would change when they got to college.
(Spoiler alert: They didn’t)
She kept quiet. She tried to conform. She smiled at her parents and politely apologized each time she came back with grades that just barely weren’t enough to excel. She was in the top 10% of her year, sure, but she didn’t stand out. She wasn’t extraordinary. She wasn’t the one people were after begging her to come work for them, to be a part of something. She was always just one step behind, it seemed. Just a second too late, just a little too slow, just a little too ordinary.
(A little too crazy, maybe, but they never said that out loud).
Her self-destructive tendencies had reached an all-time high, not that she had anyone who cared. Her parents had just accused her of pulling another hopeless prank trying to get people to pay attention to her last time her behaviour had ended her up in the hospital. They hadn’t visited. Erin hadn’t been surprised. She wasn’t even entirely sure why she still bothered, wandering around the MIT campus late at night in yet another vague and pointless attempt to clear her head. To maybe get her mind in order in a more healthy way. It never worked, anyway.
Speaking of jokes...
At least it appeared she wasn’t the only one out tonight, despite the freezing November weather. If Erin had been up for social interactions, she may have actually walked up to talk to the blonde.
(That was a lie. Erin didn’t have the guts for that. She only ever approached people if they were drunk, she was drunk, and she was expecting to have an opportunity to fuck her problems away. But at least the thought would have been there, this time)
Instead, she simply let her legs dangle off the ledge of the small wall surrounding the main park-like area on campus, the one most favoured by students during exam season, giving the young woman little more than a small wave in acknowledgement. She’d get up at some point. Later, maybe. If she found the energy again.
Is anybody ever paranoid about wearing headphones in public because you’re afraid the Hearing people can hear what you’re listening to and might think it’s too loud? Every time I go in public I turn the volume down until I can barely hear it and still someone will say, “That’s like really loud." Ugh. Fuck your ears. Just pretend the music I’m listening to are my rights and identity and tune it out like you normally do.
You ever just “mhm” your way through a conversation because you can’t understand the person who’s speaking to you? Or better yet, you ever just completely ignore a person because you’re like, “You know what? I can’t hear you and I don’t have time for this."
As I plod through my 20s, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon: The music I loved as a teenager means more to me than ever—but with each passing year, the new songs on the radio sound like noisy nonsense. On an objective level, I know this makes no sense. I cannot…