Excerpt from Oubliette, whole story available on Xenith.
Casser les Oreilles (casay ley oray) “Breaking my ears.” When the French say that, they really mean covering your ears, blocking out noise when you don’t want to listen. I see people do it all the time; I bet they are envious of me that I can do it just by flipping a switch.
When Shelly found out I was set for surgery, she stopped coming.
My parents told her I was getting cochlear implants so she wasn’t happy, not at all. Shelly yelled. She talks in sign but she hears just fine and when she’s angry drops the whole act and stops using her hands altogether.
Not in the way people yell at me and then expected me to understand what they are saying. I hadn’t seen that kind of yelling before. She’s a teacher, after all, and they shouldn’t yell. Ever.
On the day of the surgery, my parents told Warren to put me in the car. He did, and then he sat with me in the back. He normally looks out the window but instead he looked at me the whole time. What are you looking at, I signed. He grabbed his ear, which is the sign for ears and he didn’t say anything. That’s unusual. He talked to me all the time. He still does.
We got to the doctors—I’m lucky I don’t remember much of the bad stuff. We sat in his office a long time. Two chairs for my parents while Warren waited in the hall. I was on a table, a long white paper sheet covered it like a racing stripe. We waited a long time and when the doctor came in I remember he brought the battery pack I would have to wear for, well, pretty much the rest of my life. He explained to my parents how it worked, and how I would have to wear it at my thigh all day. I don’t remember them asking anything, like it was all old news to them. When he was done, the doctor looked at me and asked if I understood. I nodded, though I didn’t understand, and he looked at mother and smiled. She made a face like she was smiling, and they walked out.
For the first few weeks I thought there was something wrong with me. My head hurt, which mom told me was normal after surgery. I mean, I expected to hurt where they had opened me up. But my chest hurt too, and my belly. I finally figured out that this pain was really sound. Sounds can make your heart hurt. Sounds throb. They were like a friend who comes over to play but doesn’t leave even when you want them to. You have to like them or shut them out. Sounds are like family.