I am off school but I don’t care. I am lying on a worn brown velvet sofa bed that has no mattress but I know my mother has put a sheet on it because I wake up with it wrapped around me sometimes. I am sleeping in this bed because I am too sick to climb the ladder to my bunk, which now seems far away, an illusion that is reinforced by the sky blue of my bedroom walls. I have a recurring nightmare in which I am trying to climb a hill through a forest to rescue a princess and my legs and lungs are burning. I have turned back and am running down the slope, legs spinning out of control. I look behind me and see huge stripped tree trunks rolling down the hill, catching me up. In a flurry of pink they kill the princess. I am panting now. I feel a tug on my ankle. I keep running. Then I feel a pull. They are pulling me down. I am going to be crushed to death. The falling sensation wrenches me awake where I affirm my existence before untangling myself from the bed sheet.
‘It might just be flu.’ My grandmother, who I am sure should have gone home days ago, tells me this with a smile that I know is meant to be reassuring. One afternoon I feel particularly bad and my peculiar, floor-based perspective gradually clears, like fog, to reveal nothing but black.
White. Everything is white and out of focus. Edges sharpen and colour leaks in from a television on the wall facing me. Elmo in Sesame Street. I am not afraid and I am comfortable. The bed I am in seems more like a landscape in which I am lost. My father is standing in front of the T.V. and is smiling and reassuring me whilst his knuckles grow whiter from gripping the chrome frame of the bed. He talks and talks but I am not listening. A doctor and a nurse loom to my left. Whilst they are moving me around I feel a tug at my skin. When no one is around I investigate the plaster on the back of my hand by rolling up one corner until I can see, like a straw in a juice carton, a tube going in to me. Blood has crusted on the plaster and the tube leads to a clear bag of yellow liquid. I feel very cold.
... way he lives and the way the white man makes him feel. And because of these emotions he acts ... inside of himself, especially with whites because of the way that they make him feel. I believe it to ... plane, and the two young men watch the wispy white smoke gradually spell out the words, "Use Speed ... it is described as Bigger Thomas would describe the white folk. The narrator is always telling and aware ...
All they feed me is two swollen portions of Weetabix. As I am scooping the mush into my mouth I become weary and need to sleep afterwards. I am surrounded by a wall of sentiment with greeting cards for bricks. I pick them up at random and rarely recognise the names. All of these people would like me to get well soon but none of them tell me why I am unwell. One night my father leads me to the window and points against the glass. Whilst looking out I realise that I am high, high up. Looking down on the city I see an endless field of campfires and it makes me stumble a little. I feel the heat drain from my forehead as I press it to the glass.
‘Can you see it?’ the tone suggests he has repeated this. I try to concentrate. ‘I have to go and inspect it tonight. Hull Fair.’
I finally look where he is pointing and there is a pond of dancing colours and flashing lights, an army of fire jugglers. Scrunching up my eyes I force myself to continue looking. I stay at the window guessing what each ride is and by the time I turn around only my mother is sitting by the bed.
My jaw hurts but my grandma is watching so I try to avoid wincing. She is staying on a bed that disappears into the wall. I am grateful that she is still here but I never tell her. She has pressed a Yorkie, my favourite, into my hands. I have folded the wrapper down the bar releasing the warm smell. The letters etched into the chunks transport me from the hospital, nudging me towards normality. I bite in to it and can go no further. My teeth do not meet. I try again nearer the edge. And again. Eventually I scrape off a shaving of chocolate and leave it to linger on my tongue. Repeating the process until I am halfway through the first chunk leaves me choking back a sob. My teeth marks down the chocolate are like scoops preserved in ice cream.
... lot of pleasure from the mothers approving words and smile. Catherines verbal and conversation skills were also well ... and started to express interest to other children. She smiled to them and finally offered them a group play ... that of the average. The girls head size approximately equals to an adults head size. The body is also ... Running head: CHILD OBSERVATION Child Observation March 25, 2009 ...
‘We’ll save this for later, shall we?’ I nod as my grandma re-wraps the bar and slides it on to the nearest table.
My eyelids flutter open on to a new day. The room is bright and I squint without moving. My head is filled with concrete. Someone is moving around. I try to look but everything feels so heavy.
Shutters over my eyes spring open. My grandma is bustling around the bed. I can feel the walls sigh with the love and care that they contain. She drifts in and out of my vision. I watch the dust motes swirl as she moves through a chunk of sun. She stops to look at me then carries on. Her lips. Her hands. The muscles around her mouth. Her eyes. They are all talking to me. I try to tell her this.
‘Grandma, I can’t hear you’
I know these words, they were written in my head but now they are gone. I felt them rumble in my throat but then they dissipated. I do not think the world, my grandma or the flakes of dust received those words. Such a strange dream. I burrow into the pillow and hope to dream some more.
Every empty space around my bed is full. The animated face of the doctor and the concerned eyebrows of the nurses. They turn to me as I wake up further and smile at me with only their mouths. I am lost. Dizzy and immovable. An island clutched by choppy seas. Lips move, teeth show, feet shuffle and paper flicks over clipboards. I cannot hear any of this. Not a single thing. I shake my head but the silence remains.
‘Were you born deaf or did something happen?’ she asks with such trepidation that I smile and give her an answer straight away.
‘No, I had meningitis when I was seven. Septicaemia too, apparently. Made me profoundly deaf.’
We are sitting on opposite arms of the sofa as it is too small to sit on side by side. And this way we can see each other.
‘Oh’ she says, eyebrows rising in concern.
‘Ah, it was ok really. The thing about meningitis is that it could have attacked the nervous system anywhere so I could be completely paralysed or blind or they might have had to amputate something. I was pretty lucky actually. And I got plenty of attention from the nurses.’
... , steal, try to bum cigarettes and other such things. The reason the police log is so long every ... morning is not because kids are heathens, it's because we are bored ... Addictions form and on and on. Pretty soon the kids acting up in class, (more attention, the perfect ... before Christmas." With the divorce rate skyrocketing, us kids are feeling more like burdens than blessings. All ...
‘You were seven years old!’
‘Actually I was almost eight.’
She smiles distractedly. This is our second date and we haven’t reached the stage where silences are comfortable.
‘Would you like another drink? Squash? Tea? Sambuca?’ I ask, hoping for another smile.
‘Tea would be lovely’
‘How do you take it?’
She follows me in to my tiny kitchen and we lean against opposite work surfaces like scissor blades. To the grumble of the kettle she adds ‘How do you manage? At work, I mean.’
‘I don’t! The kids whisper terrible things behind my back! Seriously though, sometimes it works in my favour – not many kids expect their teacher to lip read them across a classroom.’
‘So you have to lip read?’
‘Yes. It kind of guides me through the noise.’
I describe to her how my parents were given a tape recording of what my hearing aid screams in to my ear. To them it was just muffled nonsense.
‘So how come you can talk properly, then?’ Her frank questioning leaves me feeling connected and warm.
‘Hmm? I’m glad you think so. Well, I’d already learnt to talk by then. That and luck, I guess.’
‘How was school?’
‘Well, it was ok. I’m a bit of a geek as you might have noticed –
‘Being a physics teacher’
– exactly. So I wasn’t the coolest kid anyway. Dining halls were the worst. So much noise. And just relying on lip-reading is tiring.’
I don’t tell her of the countless packed lunches I ate huddled in the doorway of the DT block fire escape waiting for a football game to start.
The image of me loiters like the smell of our fry-up. When Amy leaves she surprises me with a full on kiss and a stunning smile. I stand in my doorway grinning like a fool, waving until she is out of sight. I stay there with my head on the door frame and I want to go up to that awkward, lanky child with the thing in his ear and tell him that everything is going to turn out fine. Then I remember; I already knew.
Word Count; 1,532