As usual this story is my property and may not be republished or redistributed without my permission. Any resemblance to people living dead or non existent is a coincidence.
It is assumed that people who are hearing impaired and their family members are fully literate in sign language and are able to read lips. Any text in single quotations is assumed to be sign language.
Matt was beautiful, at least Emily thought so. She’d known him since they were three years old and started learning sign language together. Matt was an adventurer and had an older sister who was partially deaf. Emily was born deaf and mute, and was a shy and very cerebral girl. Em also tended to get dragged into Matt’s adventures, willing or not.
One of the things that cemented their friendship forever was when they figured out they were born on the same day, November fourteenth. They joked that they were half-twins. The fourteenth gained an even more humorous significance when they took Sex Ed and figured out when they were conceived.
They were in their final year of highschool and the Graduation dance was only a few weeks away.
‘So who are you taking Matty?’ Emily signed across the lunchroom table, hoping beyond hope that he’d ask her to go.
Matt grinned slyly and signed back, ‘There are so many victims, I mean volunteers I don’t know who to ask. Can you help me pick?’
Emily was crushed. She wished Matt could love her like she did him. ‘Sure,’ she signed with a dejected look.
Matt pulled out a note pad and wrote down some names on it. Hiding what he wrote from her. When he was done he spun the pad around for Em to read.
Emily read down the list then looked up at Matt, ‘Are you serious? These are the girls you have to pick from? You could do way better than Sara Culver or Nicole Hartmann. You could do better than all of them. When did you start doing drugs Matty?’ she signed rapid-fire at him.
Matt was surprised by Emily’s reaction to his list of girls. In actual fact he didn’t have anyone on his list. He never had. Hanging out with ‘the deaf kid’ pretty much killed his social status but he didn’t care. Besides he preferred Em’s company anyway. Emily was the coolest person he knew, it didn’t matter to him that she was deaf, they just had a secret language to talk to each other with.
“What’s your problem Em? You’re acting like you’re my keeper or something.” Matt said.
‘I just think you’re way better than all of these girls. You deserve a girl who loves you, not one who feels sorry for you.’ Emily signed with more emotion than she intended, and feeling the hot sting of tears burn her eyes.
“Hey, hey Em! I was just trying to have a little fun with you. I guess it backfired and I’m sorry.” Matt said as he tucked some stray hairs back behind Emily’s ear.
He smiled gently at his friend, “So seriously, no one’s asked you to go? What’s wrong with people? You’re the prettiest, smartest girl in our class and no one but me sees it. GOD!”
Emily blushed deeply at Matt’s compliments. ‘I guess they’re afraid to dance with me. Maybe they think I’ll stomp on their toes,’ she signed.
Matt got a look of determination in his face, “Well I’m not afraid, I’d like it if you’d go to the Grad dance with me Em.”
Emily leaped up from across the table and kissed Matt on the cheek. Everyone in the lunch room stared for a second then shook their heads at the two weirdoes sitting by themselves.
Matt couldn’t believe Em’s reaction to him asking her to the dance. The biggest problem he could think of was that when they danced Em couldn’t hear the music so she’d be out of sync.
He decided to talk to the guy who was Dj’ing the dance, and see if he’d be willing to lay one of his big speakers flat so the sound could travel through the floor for Em. He knew Emily was very graceful when she could “hear” the music through her feet. She’d even taken ballet classes.
Emily floated on a cloud for the rest of the day, she’d never been happier in her whole life. As far as she was concerned, Matt’s comments were as good as an admission to her that he felt the same way she did about him.
Emily’s mom noticed her change in mood as soon as she walked in from work. Emily’s hands were flashing so fast her mom could barely keep up.
“Hold on sweetie, all I got out of that was Matt, dance and dress.”
Emily sighed, counted to three and told her mom that Matt had asked her to their Graduation dance and she needed to get a dress.
“Seriously? That’s wonderful honey, Matt’s always been so good to you. We’ll go out after dinner and see if we can find something for you okay?”
Matt walked in from school and his sister was waiting for him. She was two years older than him and was just finishing up her second year of college.
Jen grinned wickedly and signed to him, ‘So I hear you’re taking Emily to your Grad.’
Matt blushed and asked her how she knew.
Jen laughed and told him to check Em’s Facebook page. Matt went beypazarı escort to their computer and looked up Emily’s page. When it came up he checked her wall.
‘Going to the Grad with my best friend! I know it’s going to be a great night! Can’t wait to dance with him. I love you Matty!’
‘She loves you Matty!’ Jen signed with a big grin.
Matt blushed again, “She’s probably just excited.”
Jen tousled Matt’s hair, ‘I think she LOVE’s you!’
“So what if she does? It’s not like we’ll get married or something.” Matt said defensively.
‘I think it’s cute, you guys spend so much time together, you make a sweet couple,’ Jen replied.
“Well if Emily wants a special night I’m going to make sure she has one,” Matt said to his sister.
Matt went to the mall and rented a tuxedo for the dance. He had some money saved for college but decided to dip into it and rented a stretch limo for them to go to the Grad in.
Emily’s Mom took her out shopping for her dress, they tried a few different stores but they couldn’t find something that she liked. Emily felt like they’d looked in every store in town. She thought she’d never find a dress she’d like.
A few days later Emily and her Mom were driving around in the garment district when Emily pulled on her Mom’s arm and motioned for her to pull over. Emily was out of the car and running back down the street before her Mom had even finished parking.
When her Mom finally caught up with her, Emily was standing in front of the window of a small Chinese tailors. Emily was vibrating with excitement, she knew she had found the perfect dress.
‘Mom! This is it! This is the one!’ Emily signed with glee.
Emily’s Mom looked at the dress she was pointing to. It was a beautiful royal blue Chinese-style dress with two intertwined dragons on it, one gold the other silver. She agreed with Em and they went inside to get a closer look.
The old seamstress was very happy to see them, and when Emily’s Mom told her which dress they wanted to look at she beamed at them.
“This is a very special dress, the gold dragon is a female Horned Dragon. They are the most powerful of the dragons, and like you they cannot hear. The silver dragon is a male Celestial Dragon, the Guardian of the Gods’ mansions.”
‘Mom we have to get it, please?’ Emily begged.
“Let’s see if it fits first sweetie,” her Mom laughed.
The old Chinese woman took the dress from the window and gave it to Emily to try on. She went in to the small dressing room and put on the dress then stepped out.
Emily’s Mom gasped, she’d never seen her look as beautiful as she was just then. “Oh honey, you look beautiful!”
“Yes, very beautiful! Come, we will make sure of the fit.”
Emily stepped up onto the fitting stand, and the old woman quickly checked her to make sure the dress fit. She tacked a few pins in to set the fit of the dress then walked around Em to make sure the dress still hung properly.
Emily looked at herself in the mirror, she thought she looked gorgeous. The dress accentuated the curves of her young body perfectly.
‘What do you think Mom? Do you think Matty will like it?’ she asked with a grin.
“Sweetheart you’ll be the most beautiful girl at the dance. And yes, Matt will love it.”
The old woman smiled then went and got some lacquered chopsticks and silver combs. She rolled Emily’s long auburn hair into a bun, then stuck the chopsticks and combs through it to hold it in place.
Emily kept turning this way and that, looking at herself from several angles in the mirrors. She had a wide smile on her face as she looked at her Mom. ‘So? Can we get it?’
“I think we have to Em, it was made for you!” her Mom said as she pulled out her credit card.
The old seamstress rang their purchase through and her Mom noticed that she hadn’t billed her for the chopsticks and combs.
“I think you’ve made a mistake! You didn’t charge me for her accessories.”
“No, no mistake,” the old woman said. “They are a gift for the Dragon Princess and her Guardian.”
Emily went and changed back into her clothes and gave the seamstress her dress. She smiled and bowed to the older woman then hugged her. Although she was surprised, she hugged Emily back and patted her shoulder.
“You come back on Tuesday and we will make sure everything is perfect.”
‘Thank you! Thank you so much!’ Emily signed as she beamed with joy.
The following week at school Emily was so excited she could barely contain herself. She told her few friends aside from Matt about her dress. At lunch Matt asked her what colour her dress was so he could get her a corsage. She gave him a shy smile and said it was royal blue with silver and gold accents. When he tried to pry she only grinned and told him he’d have to wait until he picked her up to see it.
Matt felt like an idiot when he called the florist, “Uhm hi. I need to get a corsage for my Grad date for Saturday?”
“Okay, çankaya escort and what colours would you like to use?” the girl on the phone asked.
“Well my date’s dress is royal blue with silver and gold accents. I know there aren’t any silver or gold flowers but is there anything you can do for me?”
He could tell the girl on the other end was smiling when she told him she was sure they could fill his order.
All week at school Emily was in a playful, kittenish mood with Matt.
‘Oh Matty we’re going to have so much fun on Saturday, thank you so much for asking me to go with you!’
Matt smiled at Em, “Come on! I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather go with Em. You’re my best friend, we’ll have a blast.”
Later in the day a few of the guys on the football team approached Matt in the hall.
“Hey dork, I here you’re taking that finger-wagging freak to the Grad. You going to wear steel-toed boots so she doesn’t break your toes?”
Matt scowled, “Em isn’t a freak, it’s not her fault she was born deaf.”
“Ooh! The dork is in love with the freak!” said the biggest of the three.
Matt’s blood was beginning to boil. He didn’t care if people called him names but he sure as hell wasn’t going to let anyone dis Em. “So what if I am? Emily’s cooler and smarter than all three of you put together!”
“Freak lover!” said the biggest kid.
“Stop calling her a freak,” Matt said in a quiet voice.
The biggest boy sneered and leaned toward Matt, “Freak.”
Before he could react Matt was on him, drilling his fist into the boy’s face three times. Matt was dimly aware of feeling teeth cracking under his fist.
What Matt lacked in size and brute strength he made up for in speed and agility.
One of the other guys grabbed Matt in a bear hug from behind. Matt slammed his head back as hard as he could, connecting with a loud crack against the boy’s nose. He dropped Matt and grabbed his face, tears welling in his eyes.
Matt turned to his third assailant and lunged at him like he was going to attack. The boy held out his hands and backed away, then turned and ran.
He looked around at the small crowd that had formed, his fists balled and his breath coming in gasps. Matt walked over to the biggest of the boys and lifted his head by his hair.
“She’s not a freak.” he said menacingly. “Say it.”
“She’s not a freak! Say it!” he said with venom in his voice.
Matt bellowed at the top of his lungs, “SHE’S NOT A FREAK! SAY IT!”
The bigger boy cringed, “Otay! She’sh noth a FWEAK!”
“What the devil is going on here?” said Mr. Hitchcock the electronics teacher. He pointed at Matt and the two bleeding boys, “You, you and you come with me. The rest of you get to class.”
Matt sat waiting outside the Principal’s office. He had an ice pack on his swelling fist while the other boys tried to staunch the flow of blood from their nose and mouth respectively. They’d already been seen by the school nurse and were waiting for their parents to arrive when Matt’s Mom and Dad rushed in.
The Principal called them into his office and closed the door behind them. They sat and waited for him to speak.
“Matthew why don’t you tell me what happened?”
Matt took a breath and looked down at his purpling fingers. “Andrew, Chris and Chuck came up to me and asked me if I was taking Emily to the Grad. They called her a freak and I told them to stop but they kept on doing it. I lost it and jumped Andrew and punched him. Then Chuck grabbed me from behind and I slammed my head into his. Chris was smart and took off.”
“So you’re telling me that in less than thirty seconds you knocked three of Andrew’s teeth out and broke Chuck’s nose.”
Matt shrugged, “Yeah I guess so sir.”
“Matt you’ve been an exemplary student here. I can’t fault your intentions for defending your friend, but I can punish you for fighting in school.”
Matt hung his head, expecting at least a suspension. “I’ll take whatever punishment you give me Mr. Webb.”
Mr. Webb gave Matt a stern look. “I think a month of detention starting next September should do it.”
“Bu-but I graduate in a week sir!” Matt said in surprise.
Mr. Webb smiled, “Exactly Matt. Although I don’t agree with your method, I believe you’ve taught those boys a much needed lesson in humility and tolerance.”
Matt and his parents got up to leave and Mr. Webb asked them to send in the other boys.
The car ride home was silent. When Matt and his parents got into the house his Dad pointed to a chair and said “Sit.”
“What were you thinking Matt?” his Mom asked with an angry look in her eyes.
“Mom they were calling Em a FREAK! I told them not to but they wouldn’t stop!”
“Son you’re lucky you just got away with a couple of sprained fingers and a headache. Those boys were a lot bigger than you. If you hadn’t had surprise on your side I hate to think what may have happened.” his Dad remarked.
Matt çayyolu escort hung his head, “I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t have done that. But it makes me so angry when people say things like that about Em! People think she’s dumb or worse just because she’s deaf!”
Matt’s Mom gave him a hug and brushed the hair from his eyes, “Honey I think it’s very admirable of you that you want to protect Emily from intolerant people. But please learn to pick your battles and how you fight them.”
“Okay, I’m really sorry. I guess I better call Em and let her know I can’t take her to our Grad?”
“You’ll do no such thing young man!” his Mom said. “She would be crushed if you didn’t take her. We’ll work out your punishment after the Grad.”
The next morning Matt stopped at Emily’s house just like he had ever since they were old enough to walk to school by themselves.
Matt rang the bell and waited. Emily opened the door and jumped into Matt’s arms, hugging him tightly. She stepped back and looked him over to make sure that he was okay, then she slapped him.
“Hey! What was that for Em?”
Emily looked furious and scared all at the same time, ‘Matt if you do anything stupid like that again I’ll kill you myself!’
Matt rubbed his cheek where she’d hit him, “Okay okay! I’m sorry, it’s just that they were calling you a freak. I told them not to call you that but they wouldn’t stop.”
Emily hugged him again and kissed his cheek. ‘They’re just words Matty, if I let every stupid thing people said or did get to me I wouldn’t have the energy to have a great friend like you.’
“I know Em, it’s just that well…”
Emily swung her book bag over her shoulder and wrapped her hands around Matt’s arm, pulling him along with her.
Saturday came all too quickly for Matt and Emily. Matt had gone to the florists’ shop and picked up the corsage for Emily. He was amazed at what they had done. It was made up of three roses, one painted blue, another gold and the last silver. When he got home he called the limo company to confirm their pick up time.
Emily was in a panic, she was running around the house frantically trying to get everything done at once. Her mother calmly followed her around, laying out her dress and shoes, getting her make-up ready and tidying up after her.
“Emily sweetie calm down, we’ll get everything done in time for Matt to pick you up.”
‘Mom you don’t understand, everything has to be perfect!’
Her Mom gave her a hug and kissed her forehead. “Yes I do understand Emily, when your father asked me to our Grad I was just as frantic as you are. Your Grandmother told me something very important that night. Do you know what she told me?”
Emily shook her head, not sure where her mother was going with this.
“She told me that the dress, the hair, the make-up and the baubles don’t make the night perfect. Being with the one you love does.”
‘How, how long have you known Mom?’ Emily asked her mom.
Her mom chuckled, “Matt’s mom and I have known for years. You two have been so close for so long you’ve been blind to it. Well not so much you, but Matt’s another story. Now let’s get you ready for your man.”
Matt was getting nervous, it was getting close to the time for the limo to arrive. He was trying to tie his bow tie but was making a mess of it. There was a knock at his door and his Mom, Dad and sister came into his room.
‘How’s it going little brother?’ Jen asked.
“Fine so far, I’m just having problems with this stupid tie,” Matt said.
His mom stepped behind him, “Let me help sweetie, your dad can’t do bow ties either.”
“We’re very proud of you son,” Matt’s dad said. “You’ve grown to be a fine young man. You’ve stuck by Emily through thick and thin and that’s admirable. You love her a lot don’t you?”
“Huh? What are you talking about? We’re just best friends.”
Jen winked at their mom and dad then grinned as she playfully punched Matt’s shoulder. ‘God Matt, everyone but you knows it! She’s the only girl you’ve ever spent any time with. All you ever talk about is her. You get into fights to protect her. You are totally in love with Em!’
Matt blushed and sighed, “Okay maybe I do have a little crush on her.”
His Mom hugged him tightly, “You know they’re right Matt, the sooner you admit it the better it’ll be for both of you.”
The doorbell rang and Matt’s Mom quickly brushed at the shoulders of his tuxedo jacket. “That’ll be your ride, we’ll see you at Emily’s in a few minutes so we can get some pictures of you two.”
On the short ride over to pick up Emily he thought about what his folks and sister had said. He realized they were right, he did love Emily. He loved her more than anything else in the world.
Before he knew it they’d stopped in front of Em’s house. He took a few quick deep breaths to calm himself then got out of the limo. Matt’s folks and sister pulled up a moment later and got out as well. Matt walked up the path and rang the bell, corsage in hand.
Emily’s Dad answered the door and smiled, shaking Matt’s hand. “Well son you clean up pretty good! Poor Em’s been a wreck all afternoon. I’ll call her down for you.” He went to the base of the stairs and bellowed, “Peg! Matt’s here for Emily!”