by Bad Wolf
originally written 1988-never published
The moon was in its fullest. Regardless of the few clouds that passed before it, the moon cast its rays upon the earth's surface, reflecting off a small lake. A dirt path led from the woods and encircled the lake.
Occassionally,a deer would walk up and get a drink of water. Other times fish would jump and cause ripples on the surface of the lake, the moon's light catching each ripple. The sounds of birds calling and rustling of feathers were heard throughout the stillness of the night. In few weeks, most of them would be heading south to avoid the harshness of winter.
Down the path, a figure could be seen approaching the lake. It was a young girl. She was too much into her thoughts to notice the signs of wildlife around her.
The girl approached the lake. She picked up a stone and skimmed it across the surface. Then she stood staring across the water. A deer looked up from drinking and stared at the figure. It decided it had nothig to fear, because the figure did not move. The deer finished drinking, then walked back into the woodline.
"How could they do this to me?" the girl thought angrilly to herself. "I thought they were my friends! But they only invited me to their party to make a fool of me! They made fun of me and thought I did not realize it! But I did! Why did they do it? Is it because I am so different from them?"
The girl picked up another stone.
Iside her, a voice spoke,
"Do not be sad, in a short while, everything will be fine."
"Bah! Do not give me that," said the girl heaving the stone into the water. No sounds of a splash reached the girl's ears.
The reason for this was because she was deaf.
Michelle Willams had been deaf for most of her eighteen years of life.
She lost her gift of sound when she was near the age of two, after nearly dying from a serious illness.
The parents were greatly relieved when Michelle was able to recover from the illness, that they did not realize that anything else was wrong with their daughter. However, they became concerned when she did not respond to sound or their voices, as she had done so before the illness. So they brought her to Dr. Graveter, her pediatrician. He preformed tests on Michelle and the results showed that she
was hearing impaired.
Michelle's parents took care of her as best as they could. They learned some sign language and tried to teach it to their daughter. They pointed out several obects within their home and sighed what they were. They tried to get her to pronounce the words, but were unsuccessful.
Michelle's parents wanted to protect her from being hurt by the outside world. They did not want their daughter to know that she was different from the other children. However, they overdid it. They did not bring Michelle to the playground, because they did not want the other children making fun of her. She had very little interaction with other children.
When Michelle reached the age of starting school, her parent got advice from a friend. She worked at a school for deaf children.
She convinced Mr. and Mrs. Williams to let their daughter get professional help. She told them that it would be the best thing for Michelle; she would be able to interact with other children.
The parents consented and allowed Michelle to get the help that she needed.
They also felt as if a big burden was lifted from their shoulders.
Progress was slow at first, but then it sped up. The professional teachers first had Michelle learn the alphabet. Then there were words. Then speech. Getting Michelle to speak was the difficult part. However, the teachers used positive reinforcement.
The teachers found out that Michelle loved M and M's. At the beginning, each time Michelle made a sound, she was given a piece of candy. Then she had to say a word. Then a group of words. Then complete sentences. The amount of reinforcement was continuous at first, then the frequency was decreased slowly, so that Michelle was reinforced every few times.
Eventually, the use of reinforcements ceased altogether.
For several years Michelle stayed at the school. She learned what the "normal" children were being taught. She learned how to read and write. Also, she was able to read lips well.
The parents then decided to take Michelle out of that school. She had reached Middle School age. They felt that she needed to interact with people with a public school. They were not as over-protective as they were before.
Up to graduation from High School, Michelle did well in her classes. With an exception of a few, the students accepted her handicap. She made several good friends. She usually had at least one person in each class to take notes for her. She passed her classes with high grades and was accepted to several colleges.
Up to the time she went to college, Michelle did not feel hindered by her handicap. She thought she was doing well in life. However, she wanted to be more independent. Her parents had offered to pay her college tuition.
However, Michelle did not want to take their money.
She felt that they had done enough for her already. So, she saved money from jobs throughout High School. After graduation, she took a year off and got a full-time job in the supermarket. With that money and financial aid, Michelle was able to start her college career.When Michelle first arrived at her dorm, some of the students were shocked to have a deaf person living with them.
There was some hostility,but it was mild. Michelle had known what to expect since she started going to public school. There would always be a few people who were anti-handicap. So she was not worried.
However, before a month went by, things started to get worse. After the first week, Michelle's roommate, Felicia, moved out. She told Michelle that she had nothing against her. She made an excuse that Residential Life had made a mistake in room assignments. She was suppsed to live with another person.
So Felicia moved out. No one else was assigned to move in. Michelle pretended that she did not mind. Having a room to herself was better than sharing.
There were a few people who Michelle considered to be friends. They all were from here dorm-Annie, Kathy, Margaret and Keith. Besides from these peope, Michelle did not consider any others as friends.
She had trouble with some of the classes. For the first week no interpretors showed up durig the classes. She also had trouble finding a reliable note taker. Finally, she paid other students to make copies of their notes for her.
Besides for these problems, Michelle seemed to get along well. She enjoyed her classes. She went to several social events. Though she only had a few friends now, she decided if she joined a sport or club, she would make more. Actually, Michelle enjoyed the college until the night of the party.
A few days earier, Keith went up to Michelle after a class they took together.
"Michelle," he said, facing her so her she could read his lips, "there is a fraternity party on South Sreet, Friday night. Most of the people on the floor are going. Do you want to go?"
"This is my chance," Michelle thought to herself. "I will be able to meet many people.
"Yes," she said to Keith.
"It starts at seven. Dress warmly; it is going to be held behind the house. It might be cold."
Came the night of the party. It was a short walk. When Michelle and Keith arrived, there were many people there. Music was blasting and even though she could not hear it, Michelle could listen by the vibrations. Margaret and Kathy were talking with some guys.
"Look!" said Margaret.
"There is Michelle!"
"I do not believe she showed up," said Kathy. Keith and Michelle came over. "I will be right back"
"Bill and John," said Kathy. "This is Michelle." Then she introduced Michelle to them.
"I am going to get a beer," Bill said. "Anybody else?"
"Yes," Kathy and Margaret said.
"What about her?" he asked indicating Michelle.
Keith came bck and talked to Michelle. Bill came back with the beers.
"I will give the freak her beer," Margaret said.
"Quiet," John said. "She might hear you."
"No. She is deaf."
Keith did not hear any of this. If he had he would have given the two girls his piece of mind-the two girls Michelle obviously considered to be friends. Michelle finished her beer. Keith took her cup.
"Want a refill?"
Keith walked off towards the direction of the keg.
Michelle walked towards her friends. They were still talking to the two guys. Another girl had approached the group Kathy noticed her.
"Aren't you Felicias roommate?"
"Did she ever tell you about Michelle, her old roommate?"
Michelle stopped. She knew the subject of their conversation. She was at an angle so that she could read their lips.
"The deaf girl? Felicia was uncomfortable living with her."
"Why? Because she is a freak?"
"No, she never said that."
John said, "Come on now. She is not that bad."
"Why don't you take her into your room, Bill? She is probably desperate."
"I thought you were her friend."
"No What a laugh. We are only using her. Is the traditional Hell Time being held?"
"Of course. What would a party be without it? What are you planning to do to her?"
"Nothing bad. Maybe throw her in the pool, throw eggs at her or get her very drunk."
Michelle knew what they were saying. She was trying hard not to let the tears, that were already forming, run out of her eyes.
A hand touched her shoulder. She spun around and glared angrily at Keith. He had heard the end of the conversation.
Michelle spoke, though with some difficulty. "Do not touch me, you bastard!"
"What are you talking about?"
"I thought you were my friend! You and those bitches have tried to make me look like a fool! I will not have that! I am not a freak! I will show you!"
Michelle stormed away.
Keith went after her and grabbed her arm.
"Let me go!"
She pulled to free her arm. Then she walked off again. Somebody had stuck a foot out and tripped her. Michelle went falling to the ground. Several people around laughed. She got up and ran towards the street, the tears running freely down her cheeks.
Keith ran after her, yelling-forgettig at that moments that she could not hear his words.
When Keith reached the street, Michelle was nowhere in sight. She had hidden on the side of another house.
Keith went back to the party. He found Kathy and Margaret.
"What the hell did you do to Michelle?"
"Bull! Something happened and she blames me!"
"You act as if you did not know. Why do you think we wanted her to come in the first place?"
"You were planning to put her through Hell Time? What a mean thing to do.
"Well isn't that why you invited her?
"No! I invited her because she is a friend. And if anything has happened to her it will be your fault."
Michelle walked for a few hours after leaving the party. She did not want to return to the dorm so she would not have to face the others, especially Kathy and Margaret. Eventually, a chill in the air made her decide to go back.
When she got back, Michelle decided to walk five flights of stairs instead of using the elevator. When she reached her floor, she looked through the window on the door. She saw Keith tapng a note to the door. She waited until he went back into his room.
When he was gone, Michelle went to her door. She read the note. "Michelle, please come see me when you get in. Keith."
"Never," thought Michelle to herself. She did not take the note off the door. She would let Keith and the others worry.
She went into her room, turned on the light then closed the door and locked it. She sat down at the desk and took out a tablet of paper. The she began writing a lengthy letter to her parents.
On Saturday, Michelle woke up late, almost noon. She had stayed up late writing the letter. Five pages-front and back-had be written. She started out that she was going to transfer to another college. Then she put all her complaints down in words. She was going to mail it later.
Michelle grabbed a few books and left her room. Nobody was in the hallway, though somebody was using the shower.
Michelle rode the elevator to the main flooor. Then she left the building and went to the library. She liked doing her class work there because it was peaceful and had no distractions.
She sat in on of the stuffed chairs and started reading from one of her text books. After a while she felt tired. She she closed her bok, leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes. Michelle slept for a while. When she woke up, she noticed she was hungry; she did not eat much that day. She picked up her books and went to the cafeteria.
After eating, Michelle decided to return to her room. When she got up to her floor, she remembered that she did not lock her door. When she opened it, Keith was standing at her desk, reading the letter. Michelle slammed the door. Keith looked at her, startled.
"Michelle," he said, "I did not hear you come in."
"What are you doing in my room? I want you to leave!"
"No! I was worried when you did not answer my note." He showed Michelle her letter. "What is the meaning of this?"
"You had no right to read that! Put it down!"
"You can not give up that easily," Kieth said desperately. "You are not the type of person to hide from trouble."
"It is none of your business what I want to do. If I attend another college, then maybe I will get the respect that is so lacking here."
"Give it some time, Michelle. When people get to know you, they will like you?"
"I am only going to wait until the end of the semester."
"I am sure you will change your mind by then."
"Maybe. Look, if you think I am about to forgive you for what happened last night, it will take a while. I trusted you; I thought you were a friend."
"I did not know taking you to the party would be a bad idea. I wanted you to have a good time. I did not want to hurt you."
"Bull! I knew what Kathy and Margaret were saying about me."
"Iknew you did. But I never thought that they were like that. I thought they were you friends. If I knew about them, I would not have let them do anything. Please Michelle, believe me. I am your friend."
Michelle turned her back on Keith, blocking him out.
Keith grabbed Michelle's arm and forced her to look at him. "Michelle, don't make me angry with you. I told Kathy and Margaret off after you left the party. They used to be my friends, but not anymore; unless if they change."
Michelle tried turning from him, but he was stronger. "Damn you, Michelle! Why do you think I am trying to make you stay? It is because I like you."
Micelle was too shocked to say anything.
"All I am asking, Michelle, is for you to give me a chance." He took her hand and held it.
Michelle felt that Keith was telling the truth. "I believe you" she said.
Anytime you need to talk or just a shoulder to cry on, you can count on me. I will be there."