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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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[I think you should know—I’m not really doing this for the principle of it. I’m not sure what to believe about that part right now. I’m doing it because a woman I once loved—maybe still do love—has asked me to, and I can’t seem to bring myself to tell her no.]

Marina stood still and watched him go, trying to think of something to say to that, and finding nothing that would not have made things worse. In less than two blocks she had lost him in the crowd.

As it turned out, she didn’t have lunch with Jeff again after all.

Leaving the apartment for a grocery-store run Tuesday afternoon, she nearly ran into a dark-haired woman whom she had not, of course, heard approaching.

They apologized to each other and the woman began to walk on, then took a second look at the apartment number on the door.

“Would you be Marina”—something. Not her last name, which would have been logical.

Marina blinked. “Yes?”

“Oh, good. I’m a friend of Jeff Langford’s, we work together, and he asked me to come by and give this to you.” She handed Marina the gift-wrapped package she was carrying in one hand.

Marina stared down at the bright blue bow, realizing what this must be, and missed the woman’s next few words.

“—sorry he couldn’t come himself,” she was saying when Marina looked up again, “he’s been really”—something—“at work, you know, it’s terrible what they”— something else, ending in “oo.” Marina picked it up again with “ . . . tell you to have a really happy birthday, and he’ll call you later.”

“Uh, thanks.” The woman was beginning to look concerned. It was her birthday, Marina realized; she was supposed to be enthusiastic, not confused. “This is great,” she tried. “I can’t wait to see what it is! Tell Jeff I said thanks. And thank you for bringing it over.” The woman smiled cheerfully. “Oh, no problem, it was practically on my way home. You have a good birthday, okay?” She walked back down the hall, waving just before she turned the corner. Marina hit the door lock and stepped back inside, tearing paper as she went. Inside the box was an insulated coolpack, about fist-sized. Inside the coolpack, were six tiny padded vials.

Six embryos. She wondered what happened that had made Jeff nervous enough to forgo a second lunch.

It had been thirteen days since her last period. Grant implanted the first embryo that very evening. They had agreed to try only one at a time, despite the possible delay, because the birth of deaf fraternal twins would be suspicious. Even with modern methods and medications, the chance that a given embryo would implant and survive was only forty percent.

Ten days later, a home blood test confirmed that she was, indeed, pregnant.

The following Wednesday, Marina was at her room terminal accessing a graphics file when the lights began flashing in the short-short-long pattern that meant someone was inquiring at the door. A message appeared across the bottom of her screen: [Visitor for Marina Carmichael: Jivval from Market Gardens . . . Floral Delivery . . . ID CONFIRMED]

Marina stared at this a moment, then rose to answer the door. She tried to think of who might be sending her flowers, and why, and came up blank. No one except Grant knew yet that she was pregnant. Maybe it was a mistake.

She pressed the door panel. A dark-skinned teenage boy stood outside, holding a long white box. He grinned at her, offering a slate for her to sign. She did so, and maneuvered the box through the doorway. The door slid shut behind her.

She took the box into the dining room and laid it on the table. Grant was sitting, eating a sandwich; he looked over with interest.

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