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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Islay: A Novel
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The shiny knight on his Pegasus was put away, never to be seen again, except on two or three occasions under Grandmother’s watchful eye until Lyson was a grown man, when it was deemed reasonable to allow him to be alone with Pegasus.

Mortima never knew any of this as she gaped at Lyson, who, with dramatic aerobatics, deposited the little knight inside the dollhouse. He pranced it about some, allowing the spirited horse to calm down, and turned the little knight to face his troops with a salute. The force of her breathing drew Mortima’s attention to her mouth and to the fact that it was wide open to the lights, her teeth sparkling. She shut it.

His demeanor in control, Lyson held up his hands, palms outward to silence whatever tumultuous applause he seemingly could hear that she couldn’t. For an unseemly time he held this pose, his head bowed in mock humility. It took time, inordinately long it seemed to Mortima, for the applause to die down; Lyson took a deep breath, nodding in recognition of the momentousness of the occasion.

My friends, wonderful deaf, his hands came to life, his eyes moving lovingly over the assembled troops, cars, trucks, tanks, bulldozers, warships, and trees. We here, finally successful—His gaze flickered up at the mirror in admiration of himself, but he caught sight of his hair. He abandoned his speech and leapt over to the desk and pulled out a comb.

A clicking on the doorknob nearly made Mortima jump. Her heart pounding in her throat, she kept a finger pressed on the lock button. Somebody on the other side of the door, most likely Mary, was trying to turn the knob, sending anxious jerks through the knob into Mortima’s hands. She held on. Not now! Not now!

Lyson combed his hair neat, wiped his face again, and restraightened his tie and jacket. He admired himself for a moment and turned off the lights around the mirror. By this time the knob had quit wiggling, and through the floor Mortima could feel steps retreating in defeat. Get going, she urged Lyson. Get on the job!

My friends, wonderful deaf, Lyson resumed his oration, his hands tracing a florid pattern through the air as Pegasus would fly. We here, finally succeed, capture Islay, our own island, our own state; deaf only allowed here from now on. Hearing finally pushed-off. A giggling arose in Mortima, and she tightened her chest to suppress it.

Many, many years ever since hearing repress us deaf, make us slaves, pat our heads and say be good, think us dumb, mock us—his hands roared, slashing in the light so that they flashed against the darkness behind, as Pegasus would attack his enemies. His fist slammed down on the table, and some of the soldiers toppled over. Hastily he set them back on their feet and regained his composure. The giggle reached Mortima’s cheeks so that they puffed in and out as she pressed her mouth tightly to prevent its escape.

My first decision, now me governor here Islay, our beloved state, myself decide, announce—he paused for the proper dramatic moment. All hearing must out before time, 12 midnight! Again the pause for effect. Islay for deaf only. Deaf only allowed here. Hearing can’t enter. Command: block bridges! His lips resolute, he marched some tin soldiers toward the bridges.

But the bridges had already fallen. His eyes wide with surprise, he stared at the bridges lying on their sides. He had forgotten he’d bulldozed them into the river. He slapped his forehead and stepped back, biting his knuckles.

Mortima could no longer hold back and exploded in that wonderful rolling bouncing laughter of the obese.

Lyson nearly died.


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