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What's It Like?

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I was only a little faunt when I learned that my world was not like the world that other Hobbits lived in. All my life I had been living in a kind of dream, sensations of various kinds constantly flowing around me like a soft breeze.

Ever present and yet not altogether distracting when soft, I remember the days when I would lie on the grass and listen to the various sounds of the farmer's harvesting their crop, their voices calling their children about like a soft whisper of wind against my cheeks.

I listened to my Mum while she gardened nearby, her hands busy pulling at weeds and collecting tomatoes and other vegetables into her basket. She always hummed while she worked and it was beautiful, a playful touch on the soles of my feet that tickled when in her throat and made me giggle when she breathed the words.

She took me to the market often, always eager to chase me under the warm sun until we came to the beginning of the stalls and I had to stop, so overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the loudest area of Hobbiton. She would look at me strangely when I stopped, unsure why I always seemed to hesitate but she hummed as she took my hand and it drowned out everything else, a faint tickle every time I put my foot down.

We would walk hand in hand to all the stalls, the cacophony of voices rushing along me like presses of fingers in various places. All over it was like someone had wrapped a physical blanket over me, constricting me and distracting me but amongst the crowd, some voices stood out. A callused touch running along my cheek, a friendly poke on the end of my nose, or a tickle along my sides whenever I heard the Gaffer's voice.

Mum found out about my ears being different when one day she and Gaffer Gamgee traded tips on how to make the most flowers grow in one pot, their shared enthusiasm making their voices loud with undisguised joy. What began as a prickle in my feet and a brush on my sides soon grew as they became more animated, unaware of what it was doing to me, and by the time they even got to how to pack the dirt, I couldn't stop laughing! It was unfair how their voices ganged up on me so well!

When she tried to get me to stop laughing, giggling at me to tell her what was so funny, her voice just sharpened my sensation, as it was apt to do when she became happy, and I fell to the ground in fits of laughter. When the Gaffer laughed at the display (because laughter was always so infectious!) the pressure on my sides increased and I had to beg to get them to stop laughing. It was hurting! Mum ended up dragging me off in a playful mess of giggles and skirts flying before she set me down on the grass and asked again what was so funny.

When I told her, she seemed to not understand and I explained to her again how she tickled me and how Gamgee made it worse when he started to laugh. For a long moment she didn't seem to understand before all of a sudden, she reached down and ran a quick finger along the bottom of my foot. Immediately it jerked away and I glared at her softly but she hushed me and smiled simply before she started to laugh; again, I couldn't help but burst out into laughter and clutch at my feet, trying to roll around in a tangle of skirts before I realized she wasn't laughing anymore.

She looked at me then, amazed and bewildered, and for a moment I wondered if she was upset at me but just as quickly as I thought it, she was dragging me close to her again and hugging me. “Tell me more about it. What do other things feel like?”

I told her and we spent hours underneath the sun cataloging what sensations I felt frequently, our hair catching in the summer breeze as she held me. Though she already knew her's from personal experience, she had me tell her again and I explained how it felt when she hummed, when she laughed and when she was sad.

Mum seemed to be most pleased when I told her that Dad's voice was like a soothing weight on my back, steadying me and making me feel safe.

With a smile that pinched her nose joyfully, she whispered to me, “That's how his voice makes me feel too."

After the death of Mum, much of my life seemed to exist in a state of the normal day to day hustle of activities that happened to all Hobbits. I still felt the sensations of the noisy world but with Mum's death, it all seemed to mute a bit. If it were like a dream before when Mum was around, it was a little like being on the edge of sleep now that she was gone.

She loved the way my ears worked and with her gone, I felt her absence all the more because of what it left behind. Dad knew about the Ear Touch as Mum would call it eventually but we didn't like to talk about how I never felt her tickle anymore. Every year on her anniversary, I would wake and feel how lonely my feet were because never again would I hear the voice that made it so easy to laugh and smile.

As a child, I was more Took than Baggins but as I grew up, the Baggins side of me became more and more pronounced. With Dad watching over me, I always made sure to look like a proper Baggins of Bag End, ensuring that my tawny colored curly hair was combed into some resemblance of decency, waistcoat buttoned correctly, and my petticoat fluffed before making sure my skirt wasn't caught on it awkwardly. It was important to look like a proper lass, of course!

Dad kept me close as any respectable but nervous father was to do when their little lass started to blossom but we never had the connection that Mum and I shared. Her death seemed to loom over us always, her presence missed all the more because of how he knew her physical joy was lost from us both in more ways than just the obvious.

To help with such a loss, we became busy. Our lives bustled from one activity to the next, rearranging things in Bag End, reading together, cooking meals together, gardening side by side, and going out to the market among other things, of course. With such a slew of activity, it kept my mind active. So busy and scattered was I that it was hardly a surprise when I realized one day that much of the sensations I previously felt when hearing sounds had become like an afterthought in passing.

My realization was confirmed at the market when walking arm in arm with Dad and noticing that opposed from when I was a constantly poked and prodded faunt, I was left with a vast sensation much like one would think of the wind on a breezy day. It passed against me but was almost unnoticed, unable to place until thought of directly. I could still feel it when hobbits spoke too loudly but as Dad and I busied about, even those were an afterthought, a brush that was easily dismissed. Even Gaffer, who came by just to greet Dad, was a light touch against my sides that I patted away unconsciously before paying for a bushel of apples some few steps away.

Life was simple in the Shire as any Hobbit would want it and it became even simpler after the sensations seemed to lessen. Dad watched me grow up as happily as I could be but when Dad died some years later, everything became even less than that.

Simple and Hobbit were the words and teachings that kept me intact, kept me from falling apart. Now the only other person who gave me a strong sensation when I heard their voice was gone from my life and his loss was felt just as much as Mum's was. Maybe in some ways, I felt his more?

When Mum died, it was hard but I could still rely on the sensation of Dad's steady pressure between my shoulders, pushing ever on like a stable weight. It was the center of the world. Even when he was slowly dying in bed from sickness, his hoarse but weak breaths were always a steady weight at my side as I watched over him until one day some moment later, it was just gone.

I was a proper lass by then though and I kept myself going and everyone looked at me with pride and respect when they saw how well I was taking things. Whenever they were needed, they would come, they reassured me. I kept their thoughts in mind, of course, though I was always aware of the absence of the pressure on my back and the tickle of my feet.

When I eventually came to realize that even when Gaffer Gamgee spoke to me quietly and I could barely feel his touch on my sides, I felt tempted to admit that maybe I had imagined it being like a tickle in the first place?

Hobbits were creatures of peace though and I no more than they, so quickly I fell into a routine that brought about the happiness of life ever forth from those sad days. I was hardly ever lonely either, barely able to find any time for myself what with all my cousins coming to visit.

Boy, did they ever visit aplenty, their voices jostling me about one way or the other as they excitedly babbled about their love lives and their children.

Children, I found rather happily one day had the most pleasant of voices; they would giggle and laugh with hardly a care in the world and their voices would tickle up my back pleasantly and make me smile. I quickly grew to love being around my many nieces and nephews and took care of them eagerly whenever my poor cousins needed a break. How I adored them and their little noises and their confounding messes that had to be cleaned up. It was wonderful though how their voices brought back a rich sense of joy that I realized I had been lacking since the death of my parents.

Though much of my world was still a vague sense of sensation -no more noticed than any other- I lived a good life happily planting new types of flowers in the garden under the advice of the old Gaffer and Mum. I mended my own worn skirts used for gardening, made a few new ones along with some ruffled ones, and drank tea when my eyes hurt from sewing and the sun too bright and glorious to ignore any further.

Happily I went to the market, still sometimes prodded and poked about when no one was near but otherwise left well enough alone, though some may have noticed when my fingers began to bunch my skirt to try and will away the poking sensation that happened.

I went to the tavern with my cousins after collecting my supply of pipeweed and enjoyed the merriment until exhausted and hobbled off, slightly tipsy but well wished and watched over all the way back to Bag End. I even kept up with my writing and drawing maps as much was my hobby when I was a wee Hobbit lass, eager to keep myself distracted by my pastimes and a good meal when the appropriate time came.

All in all, it was a good life and nothing much ever unexpected happened to me.