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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Outcasts and Angels: The New Anthology of Deaf Characters in Literature
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After he left, she leaned over and looked at her son, sleeping now on his stomach in the bassinet. Because he is different from me, she thought.

She thought about her own mother, who must have wanted so much for her daughter to be like herself. How frustrating my deafness must have been for her, Marina realized suddenly. A fundamental difference that permeated every aspect of her life, completely alien and . . . frightening. Abruptly her perspective shifted, and Marina could see her mother’s actions as born, not of resentment or hatred, but of confusion and fear. It didn’t make them any better, but at least she understood, a little.

She brushed the baby’s thin down of hair with her fingertips. In a moment of brutal self-honesty, Marina acknowledged that above anything else, her son had been an act of defiance toward her mother, who had shamed her every day of her life for not being a “normal” child. And if she resented her own son for not being Deaf, what was the difference?

She reached into the bassinet and picked up the baby. He stirred and yawned, his tiny mouth open wide, and nuzzled sweetly against her neck. She thought of Lianna and her daughter, holding each other. Marina rested her cheek on the top of the baby’s soft head and made him a silent promise.

I will not make the mistake my mother did, she told him. I will not try to mold you selfishly in my own image. No matter how hard it is. I will let you grow to be your own person, and take joy in that. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain expanding in her chest, and tears tracked across her nose, dampening the baby’s fine hair. Even if it means you grow away from me.

When she looked up again her gaze fell on the disc player, dusty on its table in the corner by the crib. She walked over to it and flipped through the rack of minidiscs, pulling one out. It was still in its ricepaper wrapper, and she tore at it one-handed, holding the baby against her chest, reluctant to put him down even for a minute. Afraid that this tenuous bond might break. She put the disc in the tray and pushed the play button.

The quality of the silence in the room did not change at all. The afternoon sunlight streamed gold through the thin ivory curtains as Marina held her son in both arms and danced to her own internal rhythm.

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