She never thought for a second that it could happen to her, no one did. She was kind, friendly, hardworking, and, well, totally typical. She had brown eyes dark as dark chocolate. Her hair was of medium length and fell between her shoulders and waist. It was slightly wavy and was a neutral brown color. Her name was Autumn.
It was a totally normal day and she was a totally normal girl. Autumn was walking down the sidewalk on that beautiful spring day. The sun was shining and the birds were chipping. All of a sudden, it happened. There was an explosion and Autumn was flung into the air. After that, she heard no more.
When I wake up, I see my mom, dad, and younger brother talking to a doctor in the corner of a hospital room. I slowly realize that it is my hospital room. Machines are hooked up all around me, though they are not making any beeping noises. “That’s strange,” I think to myself. When the doctor notices that I have waken up, she strolls over to my bed. I try to sit up but my head hurts too much. “What happened?” I try to ask, however no sound comes out. “Weird,” I think, “maybe I lost my voice.” Next, my mom does something extremely bizarre. She takes a piece of paper and scribbles something on it. She shows it to me and I read it. It says, “Honey, you are deaf.” Reading the note again and again I can’t quite comprehend the meaning. My mind is too busy thinking about what had happened. Finally it hits me, the explosion.
As I sit in my seat, I stare miserably at the blackboard as the teacher begins to write, ‘Welcome to ASL…’ Today is my first day of American Sign Language school. I am in a class with kids all younger than me. It is an incredibly long day. We learn the alphabet and practice spelling simple words that you learn to spell in kindergarten like cat, dog, and eat. When the teacher calls on me and points to the word cat, I accidently spell the word fat. All the kids start laughing and my cheeks turn bright pink. It is super embarrassing. When the day finally ends, my mom picks me up, and we go to the farmer’s market like we always do on Mondays. And then I see him. I know I’ve seen him before, but I can’t quite tell where. He darts through the crowd and I lose sight of him for a moment. My mom comes up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. She motions that we are leaving. When I turn back around, the boy is gone.
When we get home, I go outside into our backyard and sit under my favorite tree. It is extremely tall with branches sticking out all over the place. As I pull out my book, something catches my eye. I look up and see a ball of tinfoil hanging on a string suspended from one of the braches. I stand up and grab it. Inside is the tinniest folded piece of paper. I unfold it and read the following:
Do you want to meet?
I ponder this note for a while and think about who James could be. Yet from the moment I read it, I was certain that it was the boy I had seen at the farmer’s market. I know I should be careful, however being deaf has made me feel all alone. There is nobody who I could relate to. The curiosity gets the better of me and I decide to meet James. I don’t exactly know how to contact him, however I figure that hanging a note from my favorite tree would do.
As I reach for the ball of tinfoil I have been waiting for two days now, I almost drop it in all my excitement.
Meet me at 5 pm at the farmer’s market.
That night, I write a note to my mom saying that I left something at school and went to go get it, and head to the farmer’s market. When I get there, James is waiting.
“Hi, Autumn,” he says shyly.
“Hi,” I reply awkwardly, not knowing what to say. I notice James looks just like me. He is not short though he is not tall. He has deep brown eyes and neutral brown hair. I think for a second longer and then realize something that startles me so much I almost jump. “Why can I hear you?” I ask. “Are you deaf, too?”
“Yes, I am deaf,” James replies, “although that is not the reason why you can hear me. We are communicating telepathically.”
“Tele-what?” I ask, not familiar with the word he just used.
“Telepathically,” James answers, “it is a method of communication that is very rare. It is growing to be more popular, yet only a handful of people know that it even exists.”
I inquire, “But I’m not anything out of the ordinary, I am actually totally ordinary.”
“You don’t know it yet,” James responds, “but you are quite special.”
“Special,” I repeat. I have never been special in my whole life. It is always normal Autumn. “I think I like that,” I tell James.
Every day for the next several weeks, James and I meet in secret. He explains to me lots of things I never knew about the world. He tells me about his life and I tell him about mine. Each time we meet he teaches me a bit of sign language. One time he asks me, “Autumn, do you know how to say the word friend in sign language?”
“Yes,” I state. “We learned it today in class,” and I show him.
“That’s correct,” he replies, “however I had something a little different in mind.” He moves his hands and makes my name, Autumn.
Once again I am sitting and looking at the blackboard. This time though, instead of being miserable I look eagerly at what we are going to learn. The teacher writes the word, ‘special,’ and I know it is meant for me.
It has now been a year since I have lost my hearing. I go outside and sit under the same tree I first sat under when I saw James’s first note. I think to myself, “life isn’t so terrible after all.” One boy changed it all. He changed my life forever. And his name is James.