Submitted To: SRUK Science Me a Story (Click On Link to Read the Winning Stories!)
Submitted: May 17, 2019
Hi, I’m Zelda. I won’t get into the origins of my name here, but, I’ll just say that my parents are huge gamers. Anyway, my name being Zelda is probably the most interesting thing about me. I’m what you would call an average type of kid. Aside from reading and drawing, there’s not really much that I actually do. At least in the sense that most adults mean it.
There’s not really much of a fuss about me. I don’t drag my parents out on the weekends to watch me play football all day or anything like that. My teachers have no complaints either…they also don’t have a lot of compliments. I heard my dad say once in a parent-teacher meeting that I tend to “fly under the radar.” I guess they all thought it was pretty funny, but it made me feel a bit weird. Still, my parents were pretty cool about it all. They never made me do extra homework or try to push me to do things they knew didn’t interest me. I did have things I loved to do, I got good enough grades and I mostly stayed out of trouble. In their book, there was nothing really to fix.
Parts of my school day were actually pretty enjoyable. I really loved reading hour and any lessons that got us outdoors. The reading I could count on everyday; the outdoors bit not so much, so I relished any moment we got to go out and experience nature. Outside of that, I just didn’t know how to tell my parents what was lacking for me at school. Most of the time it felt like we were riding on a bullet train and every stop was something new to learn. But before I could really settle into a stop, get off the train and look around, observe a little, we were called to get back on and start speeding to the next stop. So my mind…drifted. Quite a lot at school.
Despite my solitary habits, I did have good friends at school: Lola, Alissar and Sherri. We had been friends since kindergarten when we realized how we all were madly (and secretly) in love with Nate, an amazing boy who smelled like chocolate chip cookies, could kick a ball across the playground and always greeted everyone with a smile. (At six-years-old these were really good selling points.) From there, our friendship blossomed over several years, but when we started fifth grade this year, the time we spent together seemed to grow smaller. Unlike me, Lola, Alissar and Sherri were really active; they were doers. It was okay for us. We were still friends, and it really only meant that I got a lot more reading and sketching done on the weekday afternoons and weekends when they were busy. We had a good hangout routine.
Then one day, a new girl joined our class: Ines from Portugal. Mr. Danvers welcomed her into the classroom, and she took the empty seat next to me. We both exchanged shy smiles. She seemed really nervous, so I tried to speak to her a little to help her feel welcome.
“Hello,” I said tentatively, “Don’t worry about being new. Everyone is really nice in our class, and Mr. Danvers is a really cool teacher.”
She responded with a curious look of confusion.
“My name’s Zelda. Do you speak any English?”
After a long pause, I noticed Ines blush. She very discreetly turned her head to the side, facing me, and touched her right ear. I realized that Ines was deaf.
“Oh,” I responded, slightly embarrassed. I then took out a piece of paper and wrote hello. She smiled and wrote hello back. We spent the first part of morning reading passing that paper back and forth. I think Mr. Danvers loosened up a bit on the fact that we were breaking the reading rules since it was a special occasion. I learned so much about her in those first fifteen minutes of school. She was eleven-years-old, she liked reading just like me, but most of all, she loved to dance. That part, I have to admit, confused me.
Luckily, we had library time first thing that morning. I almost ran through the doors to find books about sign language and do a quick Google search online to read reviews of the best sign language apps. When I found the Hand Talk app, I thanked my lucky stars and asked my teacher, Mr. Danvers, if I could download it onto my phone to communicate with Ines. I needed to find out how she was able to dance without hearing the music. So with the help of Hand Talk and some work with Google Translate, Ines and I were able to communicate a little faster than writing everything out, with some minor bumps along the way.
She explained to me that because sound moves in vibrations, she could “hear” music even though she was deaf. Sound vibrations move on waves that travel through the air, reach our ears and vibrate our eardrums. Low sounds have long wave vibrations and high sounds have short ones. She could hear these vibrations and feel them because, as she explained to me, the way her brain worked to process music was the exact same as “hearing people” like me! She could feel beats in her eardrums and body, and she used this knowledge to dance. We watched loads of videos on YouTube of deaf people dancing, even some of her and her old dance team in Porto.
She invited me to her house over the weekend so she could show me what it was like to dance as a person who is “hard of hearing” or even deaf. I was nervous, but incredibly intrigued. And so, even though I loved the routine of my life before meeting Ines, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I decided to do.
When I got to her house that Saturday, our parents did the usual introductions, and as soon my mom, dad, Mrs. and Mr. Costa were laughing happily in the living room, Ines and I raced up to her room. She showed me the two large speakers she had connected to her computer. I immediately pulled out my phone.
“Will your parents mind the loud music?” I typed.
She laughed, grabbed my phone and responded, “Of course not! I’ve been dancing for years.”
I gave her a quick nod, showing that I was ready to try it out. I would get to learn what it felt like to be deaf…and to dance for the first time in my life! First, she put cotton balls in my ears, and motioned me to put on some sound-cancelling headphones. Then, she pressed play and turned the volume up on her computer. She motioned for me to put my hand on a speaker. As soon as my hand touched it, I could feel the music pulsing up my arm: I could feel the vibrations! We smiled widely at each other, and then she motioned to me to watch her. At first, because she could tell I was nervous, she had me imitate small movements with my legs while keeping my hand on the speaker. Eventually, she had me take my hand off of it to follow her lead while getting more and more used to feeling of the beat vibrating through my body.
By late afternoon, our parents opened her bedroom door to see us both laughing, dancing in synch and sweating uncontrollably. We sighed in resignation when my parents told me it was time to go home, but we promised each other we would try to practice together at least once a week.
Ines turned me into a doer. After a few months of meeting together and choreographing routines to our favorite songs, Ines and I decided to perform one of our dances at the school talent show. My parents were aghast: I had never in my life volunteered for anything, much less anything so…public. But we did it together, and I am happy to say it was such a hit that soon we were flooded with people asking if they could join our dance group which soon turned into an official after-school club for any and all fourth and fifth grade students. Ines is a great dance teacher for our club, and now, the fact that my name is Zelda is no longer the only interesting thing about me.