What Makes You Different

''Man Im tired and we havent even started shooting yet,'' Brian said to me. Thank God we were filiming in Orlando, not much traveling.

''You're always tired.''

''I know,'' he yawned. ''Sad thing is, we dont start shooting for another hour atleast. Not until the dancers get here.''

''Looks like youre in luck,'' I said watching the caravan of cars pull up. ''They're here.''

''Great.'' We got up from our chairs and walked over to greet them at the door. ''Wha-tis-up everyone?''

''Not much Bri. How about with you?'' Marisa said.

''Ah nothing.'' She headed over for make-up and another girl, a little youngerlooking, maybe the same age as me, left with her. Marisa was pretty, but this girl with her looked amazing. Her long brown hair flowed down her back while her blue eyes reminded me of the ocean. She wasn't even the prettiest girl there, but to me she was. There was something that attracted me to her, but what? Brian and I continued to greet everyone until we had to go learn some new choreography. Marisa and the girl came out of their dressing room. The girl hadn't changed so I figured she was just hanging with Marisa for the day. While Fatima was teaching us the new steps, I noticed her wondering off. I didn't see her again until it was time to start the taping. She was sitting next to Joseph Khan, the director. She was very quiet.

''This scenes a wrap!'' he shouted. Marisa walked over to the girl and they went into the dancer's dressing room before I had a chance to talk to her. I was done until the next morning so I had all afternoon to talk with her. My scene would be the last one.
We were all watching (and laughing) at Brian's performance. ''Lookin' pretty good Brian,'' I said sarcastically. ''You look like an idiot!''

''Guess thats one less Christmas present I have to buy for this year!'' he said.

''But you love me Brian!''

''Rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhtttt. The day I love you is the day hell freezes over, sorry to say.'' I gave him the sad puppy dog look. ''Fine. I still love you Nick.''

''Oh shut up!'' We all laughed. I got up to go get some water from my trailer. I noticed the girl playing with the keyboard in the corner of the studio. She started playing the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I had never heard the song before though. When she had finished, she looked up and saw me. Startled, she jumped back from the keys.

I asked her, ''Can you play anything else?'' She nodded and started playing a swing type song, maybe from the 50s or 60s. I started pretending I was dancing. She
smiled and continued to play until she finished the song. That was really good. She bowed and continued smiling. She hadn't said a word. ''What's your name?'' I asked her.
She started looking around the room. She must have spotted something, because she motioned for me to go with her. I followed her and she found a pen and pad of paper and
began writing frantically. She gave the paper to me.

It read: My name is Alexandra. You can call me Alex. Im Marisa's sister. She invited me along and I thought, why not?

I didnt want to be rude but I had to ask it. ''Can't you talk?''

She took the paper from my hand and wrote on it again: Yes I can talk, but it is very slurred. The reason is this: Im deaf. I have been since 1997. They cant find out why either. The reason Ive been able to answer your questions is because I can read lips pretty well. You guys sound really good from what I remember. I wish I could hear you now.

''That's sweet,'' I said. ''Thank you.'' She smiled. I wanted to ask her out on a date, but it would be so weird. The only thing she can't do is what I live for. She can't hear, but my life revolves around people hearing me. Suddenly it occurred to me, ''How did you know how to play the keys then?'' She gave me a confusing look. I took the pen from her hand and wrote: How did you know how to play the keyboard?

She took the paper and pen and wrote: I started playing when I was 8. When I went deaf I made sure I would remember how to play those 2 songs. The fast one was always my favorite song. The ballad was a song I was working on when my mom died of lupus. Kinda like Howie's sister, I guess. I was writing it for her for mothers day and her birthday. They were on the same day that year. She died a week before her birthday. That's why I don't wanna ever forget how to play it. I was finally trying to get the words to the song, but then I went deaf and couldn't really remember the sound it had. I can
only remember like where my fingers go and stuff.
I wrote: Thats so sad. Thats a really sweet story you have though, sounds like something out of a movie.

She wrote: Well, it's not from a movie. It's my life. Believe me, I wish this was from a movie, but my mom really did die and I really cant hear anything.

I saw tears starting to develop in her eyes. Talking about her mom really hurt her. I wrote: Im sorry. I didnt mean for it to seem like that. Lets get off that subject. How old are you? Do you still go to school? If so, where?

She wrote: Im 18. Im in my last year of high school, but I dont think Im gonna go to college. I know Im skipping this year, a little vacation for me. I dont think
I'll go though. My family can barely afford to send me to school, let alone hire a person to sign what the teacher is saying. I did teach my friend Gabriella to sign, but she's
majoring in something where we wouldnt even have one same class. It'd just be too hard. I don't want to go to college anyway. You're 19, right?

I wrote: Yeah, I am. I wish I was going to college. I love what I do, but what if something happens that I can't do this anymore. I have nothing to fall back on, you know?

She wrote: Yeah, I know. But there isn't much work out there for someone like me anyway, so I dont really have to worry. You could always be a Wal-mart greeter or
work a McDonalds or something.

I laughed. I then wrote: Funny. I spose it would be hard for you to find a job.

She wrote: It is. All I can find is volunteer work at the hospital. I visit with the deaf kids. But thats all it is.....volunteer.

I saw Marisa come up behind Alex and tap her on the shoulder. ''Time to go,'' she said and signed. Alex nodded.

'Bye Nick.' She wrote.

'Bye, see you tomorrow?' I asked.

I hope. She wrote.


''Made a new friend?'' Brian asked me as I walked back over toward the guys.

''Yeah, I did.''

''What was youre guys deal with that piece of paper?''

''She cant talk very well. She's deaf.''

''Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know.''

Part One

Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine

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