by Sinta Jimenez
Welly had asked herself the question a number of times in her life, turning
it over in her mind like a coin in her palm. Lots of people expected that she would
have an exact answer of the exact moment she lost her hearing but it was subtler
than that. A bird outside her window, more silent than the day before. A gradually
muffled school bell. Listening to her mother saying goodnight with a voice as
though she were under water. Like outgrowing last year’s loafers it was natural and
a little melancholy but nothing anyone cried over, just part of her growing up. By
the time she was six she was completely deaf.
Welly continued to be able to speak, a remnant from the days she could still
hear though her voice had a muffled sound, like a conversation under the covers,
the syllables melted in a crescent of wool as they came out of her mouth. Even
with the continued use of speech the change of her voice reflected her slackened
acoustic nerve. Though Welly and Lara both learned sign language and used
notepads, Lara encouraged her to keep speaking as often as she could. A life skill,
like riding a bike or swimming, it was important Welly held onto what she could.
In case of emergency or just to have as another option. Being a single mother Lara
emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency and disaster preparedness. Welly’s
parents separated when she was one and he died shortly after.