A little over a year ago, I took an English story writing class and everyday we had a 5-minute writing prompt where we tried to write as much as we could without overthinking it. One day, my teacher asked us to write about either something we lost that we wish we could find or something we wish we could lose but cannot. There were so many good stories that came out of this, some were completely fictional and some were based on my peers’ lives.
The first time through this prompt, I wrote about a sentimental pin I had lost in high school around Christmastime. Then the second time through this prompt, I thought a little bit more about the second half of the prompt. What is an object I wish I could lose?
The answer hit me like a lightning bolt. It might have come even faster if I had scratched my head and upset my hearing aids’ delicate sensibilities.
Without further ado, enjoy.
An object you wish you could lose - Hearing aids
Once the little girl called them party ears because they had glitter and were colorful. Then, she grew up and loathed them. She did not remember calling them party ears anymore. Instead, she called them the worst thing on Earth - hearing aids.
Hearing aids. When they were on, they screeched and screamed. They tattled on and on, re-echoing sounds the little girl could hear, and inserting new sounds - sounds that the little girl supposedly could not hear. The hearing aids were like gossipers. They heard things, whispered them — more like screamed — to the little girl, added their own little embellishments, a wind here, a screech there, a howl here. The little girl hated these embellishment. She hated the little gossipers behind her ears.
Every once in a while, the vile hearing aids beeped loudly to say the battery needed to be replaced. As the battery ran closer to being dead, the hearing aids beeped more frequently. The little girl hated how the hearing aids complained about low battery. Why should she care if the hearing aids are dead or not? At least when they were dead, they were quiet.
If the battery did not die of its own will, the little girl would turn it off. When the hearing aids were off, blessed silence would reign, but it would be too quiet. The bulky ear molds that went into her ears acted as earplugs when the hearing aids were off. And the ear molds never fit quite right. It felt like the shirt that was just a bit too snug in the armpits, or the tights with the knotty ends tickling the toes in all the wrong places.
The little girl cannot take off the dead hearing aids. If she takes off the hearing aids, the teacher will tell her parents and her parents would tell her to wear them. Her parents will say things like “You’ll hear your teachers better. You’ll hear your friends better.” But the teachers just taught from the book. And her ‘friends’ were too loud and never made sense to her anyway. Why should she listen? Why did she need the hearing aids to listen? The little girl listened to her parents. She wore her hearing aids, suffering and counting the minutes, the second for the school bell to ring so she could take them off without reprimand. She still hated the hearing aids.
Everyday, the little girl wore the hearing aids. Some days, the hearing aids were heavy. It felt like the tube connecting her ear molds to the small chip behind her ears would cut through her ears. It hurt. She wanted to take them off and throw them in a ditch somewhere, never to see them again. The gully behind her house would be the perfect place to dispose of them. If she waited until monsoon season, then the rain will flood the gully and destroy the hearing aids beyond all repairs! She would never see nor wear the hearing aids ever again!
But that would not make her parents happy.
Her parents tried to tell her that the hearing aids do not make her different from the other children, they are supposed to help her fit in. The little girl knew she was different. She knew that the hearing aids mark that difference somehow, but why should she try to fit in? Why should the hearing aids help her fit in? She thought she spoke normally. She thought she heard all she needed. She thought the other kids were weird for being so loud and talkative. Being deaf did not matter to the little girl. Only the hearing aids mattered and they were the bane of her existence.
It would seem that nothing would convince the girl to wear the hearing aids happily. The sounds that came through them were ugly to the girl no matter how much it helped her understand the world and the language around her. Perhaps it was just not meant to be. Perhaps the little girl preferred a life of familiar sounds unfiltered by the hearing aids, not caring about the sounds she did not hear. Except …
Once, the little girl was walking to the bus stop and it was one of the rare times she wore her hearing aids outside. The bus came early in the morning and the little girl was barely awake. She walked with her eyes closed, knowing the path to the bus by heart. She heard a whistle, a song. It confused her. The little girl had never heard anything like it before. She opened her eyes and looked around. She was alone next to a copse of aspens and pines. She never heard that sound before, even though she spends a lot of time outside. Then, realization struck. The little girl had read about birds chirping and singing. She had read stories that romanticized birdsongs — Atticus, from To Kill a Mockingbird, said it was a sin to kill a mockingbird because it songs were so beautiful — but never before had the little girl heard it before. Never before had she believed it was so beautiful.
The birdsong redeemed the hearing aids. So while her parents talk, her teachers drone, and her friends yap, the little girl listened to the birdsongs. The hearing aids are still heavy, whiny, clunky inventions of the devil, but they added something beautiful to the girl’s worldview. They opened the gate to the sounds the hearing took for granted, the sounds that people dismiss in a normal setting, but are no less beautiful.