It’s the first Monday of the month. That’s me. So I thought I’d let you know what’s going on in my life. Sign language class is killing me. I’m far from conversational. I can say things like I’ll met you. I can sign several foods, and I can count. Does it matter that I take forever to sign anything? Not to me. I’m proud that I’ve done as well as I have. But quite honestly I’m really lousy at this but I refuse to give up. I WILL learn. My Deaf friends keep cheering me onward.
I haven’t figured out what I’m going to put into this month’s teacup. But I’m certain something will magically appear and beg to be this month’s teacup. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about CLICK HERE.)
But my real excitement is that my newest book, Silent Journey is now available on Amazon. And for a short time, it’s being offered at $2.99. As soon as the paperback becomes available, that will be on the 12th of this month, the price of the ebook goes up. BUT, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read for FREE! (Everyone should have Kindle Unlimited if you or a member of your family is an avid reader!)
I keep getting notes from folks saying how much they have learned by reading the book. They had no idea. My editor, who is also a professor, told me that she has a Deaf student in her classes this year. She felt as though the story helped her to understand her student’s situation. WOW! That’s powerful for a little romance, although I’d say the romance is minimal. In fact, it’s rather a sweet romance. It’s a story that follows two students through not quite a full year of college, one as an undergrad and the other is in his final year of architectural school (engineering degree).
What if your daughter brought a Deaf man home as her boyfriend? It didn’t go too well for Savannah. But when Alex took her to meet his family… A Deaf family and a young woman who could barely sign, fortunately hearts don’t seem to care about things like that.
Two excerpts for you enjoy.
The trip to her parents took several hours and they stopped once for a snack and some coffee. According to the GPS, they were getting close. He hated to admit it, but this was very similar to going for a job interview, except this job was for a lifetime.
Savannah pointed to the next exit. The town was small, barely a blip on the map, but it had a major grocery chain store, a big name shopping mart, and handful of gas stations, a pizzeria, and two fast food restaurants. They made a turn into an older neighborhood. The houses were tiny, but most were well tended. This was a blue-collar neighborhood. She pointed to a house with beige siding and faded brown shutters. It looked like every other house on the street.
She turned to him and smiled. “We are here.”
As he got out of the car, she bounded up the narrow walk to the door and opened it. A rather large dog immediately danced around her and then came to him with teeth showing between curled lips.
Savannah caught the multi-colored, mixed-breed dog by the collar and introduced her to Alex as Lady Floppy-Ears Chisholm. “Affectionately called Lady.”
He held his hand to the dog that sniffed it warily. The feeling is mutual. Having never owned a dog or any pet, he wasn’t certain what he should do. But he watched Savannah who beamed with love for the large animal, and the dog seemed to return it.
Meet the parents. Something inside of him crumbled. He stepped across the threshold into a tiny living room and closed the door behind him. Blinking a few times, his eyes adjusted to the interior. A large screen TV glowed with a sports channel, showing a panel of commentators talking about several teams and the players.
Savannah turned to him, pointed down the hall, and signed bathroom. He nodded his response.
By the time he washed his hands, whatever had been crumbling inside him, he decided there was nothing left but the weight that now lay deep in his gut. It was a modest bathroom designed with pale blue tile and white porcelain that looked as though it hadn’t had a shiny finish in years. There was a hot-water faucet and a cold-water faucet. The chrome on both was blistered and missing in places. The house appeared to be a WWII residence and he was expecting to see a Rosie the Riveter, We Can Do it! poster someplace. The bathroom had been decorated in seashells and mermaids and smelled faintly of bleach. He dried his hands on a little baby-blue guest towel that hung from a ring on the wall. At least Savannah was waiting for him as he opened the door.
“Come meet my parents.”
He smiled back at her and followed her down the hall through a dining room and into a kitchen. Any preconceived notions he might have had about her family vanished instantly. Her dad greeted him with an outstretched hand. They were probably close in height. Savannah was a clone of her mother, except her mom’s hair was shoulder length and she had bangs.
“Would you like a cup of coffee or a…” Mr. Chisholm opened the refrigerator.
“I have…” Her mother turned to the counter.
Savannah fingerspelled beer, signed coffee, and then pointed to the little kitchen table.
He signed coffee as he slid across the bench of the table’s booth seating, even though a beer would have probably helped him to relax.
Savannah’s mom put a loaf of white bread on the table and plastic zip bags containing several types of lunchmeat, another group with cheeses, and then added a jar of mayonnaise, along with several other condiments and pickles.
Savannah’s father sat at the table with a bottle of beer. “So what are you going to school for?”
Here goes. He signed architecture.
The man looked slightly puzzled and then turned his gaze to his daughter before returning it to Alex. “Is this some sort of joke?”
Alex shook his head, spotted Savannah’s giggle, and signed. “I read lips.”
“No, Daddy. He’s deaf. I told Mom and told her to tell you. As long as you look at him when you speak, he can read your lips.”
“Can you hear me?”
Alex shook his head.
Mr. Chisholm appeared to be confused. He looked at his daughter and then at Alex before beginning to prepare his sandwich.
Savannah handed Alex a mug filled with coffee. “Make a sandwich.”
Her father passed the loaf of bread to Alex.
He accepted the bread and withdrew two slices from the plastic sleeve.
She passed him the meats and then the cheeses.
Savannah’s mom sat across from Alex. “So how do you manage to go to college?”
Alex pulled the notepad from his shirt pocket.
The same way as everyone else.
She took a sip of her coffee. “I thought people like you went to special schools.”
People like me? What’s that supposed to mean? Stay calm. She doesn’t understand.
No. I went to the local public school. No special classes. But many Deaf will attend dedicated schools.
“And you’ve always been deaf?”
“So how do you talk?”
Before he could write an answer, Savannah said, “Mom, he uses his hands. It’s sign language, and it’s a real language. I’m taking it instead of Spanish. I told you that’s how we met, the Silent Spaghetti Supper.”
“Like Helen Keller used?”
He shook his head and Savannah watched him.
“Not exactly.” Savannah translated. “It’s changed over the years, and she couldn’t see. She fingerspelled. We’ve come a long way since those days. Fortunately, I can see. I am merely Deaf.”
“But you’re dumb, too.”
“Mom, he’s mute by choice, not stupid.”
“What? What is mute by choice supposed to mean?”
Alex pressed his lips together and then forced himself to answer the question verbally, “I cannot hear therefore my voice is not good.”
The look on Savannah’s mom’s face told him she understood.
Savannah put her hand on his arm. “It’s easier for him to use his hands.”
The family barely said a word. It was Savannah who did most of the talking.
Obviously, her parents were concerned about his relationship with their daughter. Yet he would make more money and be better able to provide for their daughter than her father had provided for his family.
Mr. Chisholm glanced up at Alex and then turned his attention to his daughter. “I thought maybe he’d like to hang out with me and look at the car I’m restoring. But I guess that won’t work.”
A little time with Savannah’s father might be good. He nudged Savannah. “What kind of car?”
Savannah turned to her father. “He wants to know what kind of car.”
“A 1950 Town and Country Newport with only 23,000 miles on it. It was in my grandfather’s barn. I inherited it.”
Alex grinned and gave the thumbs-up sign. In the barn? A family owned antique car? Super low mileage? Oh yeah!
A few minutes later, he followed Mr. Chisholm out the back door and into a detached garage. He was on his own with a man who did not sign. Alex had to win the man’s trust.
As soon as the men left, Savannah’s mom turned her attention to her daughter. “Well, he’s cute as a button. But how is he going to make a living? Or do you intend to support him?”
Savannah shook her head and began to clear the table. “He’ll get a job as an architect. I’ll never make the money that he will.”
“You mean someone will hire him?”
“Yes.” She had to tamp down her frustration with her mom, but she also understood for she had asked herself those same questions.
“Is that your engagement ring? It doesn’t look like an engagement ring.”
“Yes, Mom. Isn’t it beautiful?”
“What happened to a simple diamond? Are you certain those stones are real?” There was the sound of disgust in her mom’s voice.
“Mom, he bought it from a local jeweler. I think it’s beautiful. It’s different.”
“If you wind up marrying him, what will you do, adopt?”
“You mean because he’s Deaf?”
Her mom nodded.
“We haven’t talked too much about children. The odds of us having a deaf child are minimal. And Alex doesn’t understand why there would be any concern about having a deaf child.” She remembered a conversation Alex and she had and began to giggle. “Mom, do you miss your third arm and hand?”
“It’s simple. Do you miss your third hand?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m not. A third hand might be super wonderful, but how would we ever know because we’ve done quite well with two. Hearing is the same for him. He’s never had it, so he really can’t imagine it – he’s never heard any sound in his life. As a result, he can better comprehend having a third hand, because he has two hands, than he can comprehend sound. He can’t miss something he never had.”
“Oh, Savannah, I worry about you in this relationship.”
The trip to his parents didn’t take long. He hit the remote for the garage door, and it opened. Gwen had arrived and pulled into what he considered his parking space. He parked his car by the garage wall knowing that barely gave Savannah enough room to open her door.
He got out and held the door for her. She squeezed out and smiled, as he apologized.
“I’m not the one who is pregnant.”
He helped her remove her coat and tossed it over his in the backseat. Then he snatched the box of monogrammed golf balls wrapped in birthday paper and tied with a large bow that also was on the backseat.
“Do I look okay? Is everything still in place?” She smoothed out the skirt of her gown.
He laughed. “Looking at you makes it very difficult for me to keep what I have in place.”
She gave him her evil glare, and he laughed some more. “Ready for a Deaf night like you’ve never experienced?”
Savannah walked into the house where Alex’s mom was giving last minute instructions to several people in black and white uniforms with embroidered interlocking letters that formed the caterer’s logo. The amount of food in the kitchen was unreal and more was in the ovens and on the stovetop. If the white aprons were any indication, there had to be three people cooking and at least five people listening to Alex’s mom. In the other room, there were even more uniformed people. So this is how the rich throw parties.
Arrangements of white lilies accented with tidbits of midnight blue and silver decorated tables and the place seemed to glow with a party atmosphere. Alex took her hand as they walked to his father’s office. There they left the box on his dad’s desk, along with the card they had signed. Then they went upstairs to what was once his childhood bedroom.
He closed and locked the door behind him. “I can’t handle looking and not touching you. You are incredibly beautiful. And that is doing things to me.”
His lips devoured hers. She was lost in his kiss and the sensations he produced in her. And when his kiss ended, he stood staring into her eyes with such intensity that she couldn’t catch her breath. She touched his cheek and gasped for air, without letting go of his gaze. There was no question in her mind that their feelings matched.
He went to his bathroom and she waited for him to return. After checking the decorative mirror on his bedroom wall, she slipped her lipstick from her small silver purse. She inhaled a few times before redoing the pink gloss on her lips. Even though it was a special occasion, she still didn’t like wearing much makeup. The colors she wore with her gray dress were as pale as always, light brown mascara with just a touch of pale blue shadow that shimmered on her lids. As she stared into the mirror, she thought of Ashley with her dark hair and eyes that allowed her to wear bold colors. Savannah envied her friend.
Alex reappeared and smiled, but his smile was a little sheepish.
She went to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I love you. You look so handsome in your suit. How did I find you?” She stared into his eyes. With heels, she was almost equal to him in height. “Maybe I should thank Prof. Stockton.”
He grinned. “You can do that tonight. Because I can’t imagine him not coming.”
“Old friends of the family. Remember I said his wife is Deaf.”
“Oh, I guess with your mom being a dean she has lots of friends within the faculty.”
He nodded. “Don’t concern yourself. This will mostly be Deaf friends. My father is not comfortable around the hearing and it’s his party.”
“Your father seems to like me.”
“He thinks you are adorable. But don’t forget my mom hears and he fell in love with her.”
“I never asked. How did they meet?”
He shrugged. “On campus, except someone set them up. Someone knew that she knew sign language. And if we don’t go downstairs soon and join the party that’s about to start, we’ll be in trouble.”
She captured his hands and held them. The look in his eyes said everything she wanted to hear. Bringing his fingers to her lips, she kissed them. “Yes, we need to join the party before I totally chicken out.”
His mouth moved before the sound came out. “You’ll be fine.”
She kissed his fingers one more time.
Downstairs, guests had begun to arrive. It seemed as though everyone signed, yet a few voices rose above the sounds of those in attendance.
Savannah spotted Gwen who called to her, “Come meet my in-laws.”
Slowly Alex and Savannah made their way through a group of people who were excited to see Alex and wanting to know who she was. Alex introduced her to so many people that she knew she’d never remember all the names. But when they reached Gwen, she was standing with two people who could hear. Dustin’s parents were probably feeling as out of place as she was. She also realized that their ability to sign was rather limited. Knowing Dustin had spent his life deaf, she found it odd that his parents struggled to sign. Didn’t they learn to communicate with their own son?
Another couple came to Alex and hugged him. As though being pulled by a tide, Alex continuously introduced her as he chatted with so many people. And when they landed by Prof Stockton and his wife, they both embraced Alex.
“Welcome to the Deaf community,” Prof. Stockton signed and gave Savannah a hug. “You have a lot to learn, but you also have a good teacher. This is my wife, Kathy.”
Savannah signed that she was pleased to meet her professor’s wife and then quickly signed, “Slow down,” as the woman signed at the speed of light. She hardly caught anything the woman had said. Apparently Alex knew that, because he laughed silently. She turned to Alex. “What is so funny?”
Alex kissed her and she could feel the blush rushing to her cheeks. His sign of affection was a bit much in front of her professor. Then Alex slowly signed that Stockton and his wife were his godparents. He took her hand and showed off her ring.
Savannah caught the word pretty from the professor’s wife, but by the look on the woman’s face there was no question that she loved Savannah’s ring.
“Savannah, you’ll need to work extra hard. There’s a lot you still don’t know.” Prof. Stockton warned. “Not only do you have vocabulary to learn, but you will need to pick up some speed. You have to learn to automatically sign and not think about each word.”
She nodded her response.
As the night went on, she discovered that this crowd seemed more tactile and openly affectionate. Even the men hugged one another. But when a pretty blonde came up to Alex and hugged him, Savannah could feel that green jealousy running through her veins, especially when Alex returned her hug.
“Meet Elise.” Alex practically pushed Savannah to the woman. Then he held out Savannah’s hand and showed off her ring.
The young woman instantly hugged Savannah. “Make him happy. He’s impossible.”
“I am not!”
“Yes, you are. I want to know what she did to grab your heart.” Elise laughed as she signed.
“Chemistry,” Alex answered. “She’s got it.”
The woman looked around and then signed, “She can also hear.”
Alex nodded. “She’s learning to sign, but…” he looked at Savannah, “Who needs to talk when you are in love? I can think of better things to do with my hands.”
Savannah had been following along, piecing the conversation together because Alex was signing slow enough for her to understand, but with that last comment she thought she’d hit him. Elise did it first, except hers was playful.
“You are so bad!” She turned her attention to Savannah. “Savannah, make him behave.” Elise signed extra slow. “He’s terrible. I’ve known him all my life. You’ve captured the top dog, and every eligible female in this room wishes that ring was on her finger instead of yours.”
Savannah smiled and signed, “You?”
“Of course. Together since we were old enough to see a movie.”
Savannah smiled at the young woman, but deep inside she wasn’t happy. Whoever this gal was Savannah figured she would be waiting in the wings to snatch Alex back, except he seemed to take it all very lightly.
I loved writing this story. Years of research went into it and so far the reviews have been phenomenal. The Deaf community has been wonderful. Alex has proved to be a worthy hero. Two young adults, their families, their friends, and the atmosphere of a small university are stuffed between the pages of this groundbreaking novel.
It’s available on Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited and will be in paperback everywhere. Grab your copy today!