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World of Silence

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They say your other senses take over when you're missing one. Your hearing enhances when you have no sight. Your smell enhances when you have no hearing. And so on. That was Santana's story. She was born without eardrums. When she was a child she had implants to try to correct it, but it still made things very hard for her. The implants helped for a while but her hearing deteriorated as she got older. Now, with the implant she could only hear loud noises, most of everything else was silent.

But, Santana accepted this. At 34 years old, this was her life. If someone was screaming at her, she could just barely hear them. There were more experimental surgeries available that she qualified for, but she chose not to do any of them. She'd accepted the fact that couldn't hear anything anymore. Her world of silence was perfect for her.

She loved her job. She worked at the Columbus school for the deaf. Most of her lessons were for young children that were learning sign language for the first time. What she loved the most, was working with brothers and sisters of children that were deaf or hearing impaired.

What she loved the most, was that to the regular person, she wasn't deaf. Nobody saw her implants when she had her hair down. Catching their reaction when she ran her fingers through her hair always brought a smile to her face. At least over the years, she'd gotten really good at reading lips.

"Hi how are you today?" She read the lips of the barista.

Santana held up her hand before motioning to her ear and shaking her head. The woman at the counter quickly smiled and nodded before grabbing a menu so Santana could show her what she wanted. "Thank you," she signed to her before pointing to what she wanted. It was the same thing every time she stopped at Starbucks in the morning before work. But it wasn't the same young man that normally waited on her.

She stepped off to the side and accepted the small buzzer she was given for when her order came up. Santana pulled out her phone and looked down at it to read through some of her work e-mails to see if there was anything she had to be prepared for, for the day. She furrowed her brows some when she read an important e-mail about a journalist coming in to meet with some of the teachers after lunch that day.

Working at a school for the deaf tended to bring in some unwanted attention. It made it rough sometimes. They were no different than any other school across the country. It wasn't a private school but the only requirement for students to go there was medical documentation stating they were deaf or hearing impaired. Most students were young, below 10. Once they hit middle school age, the public-school systems were better equipped to help them out.

What Santana didn't notice, was a young man attempting to talk to her. She didn't notice him because he was behind her and her head was angled down toward her phone. She ran her fingers through her hair and he spotted the cochlear implant behind her right ear. He huffed some before leaving her alone. When Santana finally looked up, she noticed him walking by her, but glancing back some. Out of respect, she smiled to him even though she wasn't interested.

She looked up when she felt the small device vibrate in her hand. "Thank you," she signed to the woman before handing the device over to her and picking up her Venti latte and banana nut bread.

Santana tucked her phone away in her purse and got her car keys back out as she walked to her car so she could finish the last few minute drive to the school.

Quinn wasn't exactly sure why she'd been sent off to the Columbus School for the Deaf to do a piece. But, it was her job to write the stories that were assigned to her. It was supposed to be a piece on how wonderful the school was, but she was also a journalist. There was always some underlying tone and reasoning for sending someone on a job. She checked her time, it was just after 12PM. Her time slot was at 12:30 that day. They'd arranged for an interpreter to go around with her as she asked questions.

Taking a deep breath, she grabbed her bag and climbed out of her car to head inside so she could check in at the school. As she walked in, she saw a woman waving to what appeared to be her class of kindergarteners. She clapped her hands some and waved to get them to hurry, all with a big smile on her face. The woman appeared to be about her age and was absolutely stunning.

Quinn smiled when she saw her get the kids attention and sign something to them before watching them run out the side door and out onto the playground. The woman waited until her small group was outside before following them. It was obvious to Quinn that it was recess time before they went back to the classroom.

She followed the signs she saw that pointed toward the main office. "Hi, I'm Quinn Fabray. I have an appointment." She smiled politely toward the man at the desk.

"Hi Ms. Fabray, welcome to the Columbus School for the Deaf. We hope that you find only good things to report on."

Quinn chuckled softly as she leaned down to sign the papers she needed to and accepted her pass. "I'll be honest, I'm not even entirely sure why I was sent here. It looks just like any other school."

"It is. We just have to do things a little differently here is all. Ms. Fabray, this is Curtis, he'll be going around with you today to help interpret your questions to our faculty."

"Please, just call me Quinn." The blonde reached out to shake the younger man's hand.

Curtis smiled to her as he shook her hand. "Our staff has already been informed of your visit. So, they're prepared for whatever kinds of questions you may have for them."

Quinn dug out a small recorder. It had always been easiest for her to record all of her questions then listen to them later on to make notes before writing her article. "May I ask why they insisted I have an interpreter with me?"

"That's an easy one. All but three of our teachers are deaf. We truly believe that the best teachers for this school are ones that completely understand what it's like to not have the sense of hearing."

Quinn smiled toward him as they walked down the hallway. It made perfect sense to her for them to employ deaf teachers. "So where are we off to first?"

"Just a tour. Some of the classes are still enjoying lunch while others, the younger classes, are having recess time."

The blonde stayed with Curtis as they came to the cafeteria first. It was a little eerie to her since she had her hearing. It was silent. She understood why, but it was still different than what she was used to. She stayed quiet as she moved through the rest of the school with her interpreter. She jumped some when she saw some lights flashing through the halls.

"We don't have bells here, doesn't make sense to have them. The lights indicate the end of lunch or recess. They go around the outside too. They're hooked to their own generator in case of power failure as well." Curtis stopped at a fork in the hallway and turned to look at Quinn again. "The school is divided into classes mainly based on age. A majority of the older students return to public schools when they hit middle school age. I was thinking we could start in one of the younger classes. Miss Lopez teaches the students sign language and reading and writing. She even helps out with the parents and siblings to teach them too."

Quinn smiled to him. "Do they do classes for adults that wish to learn sign language?"

"Yes, she actually does them on Tuesday and Thursday nights here at the school. She focuses on mostly conversational sign language. It's enough to help the average person get by when they encounter someone that's deaf."

Curtis led them toward the room and opened the door for them to go in. Quinn paused some when she spotted the same woman she saw when she first entered the school. She had to remind herself that usually when she had an instant attraction to someone, they were straight. 

The woman was busy with her class, showing them some pictures of things then signing it to them so they would know what it was. Quinn stood back and watched for a moment as the woman coupled the picture with the sign language and writing the word onto the board. It was fascinating to her. She never had the problem that all the kids in the room did. She never had the struggle to learn to read and write because she could hear the words.

Curtis waved some, getting the teacher's attention. Santana signed something to her students, giving them a break as she went to meet with Curtis and the beautiful blonde that stood beside him. "Hi," she waved toward Quinn and smiled to her.

Quinn looked at the woman for a moment, realizing that she wasn't one of the teachers that could hear. She waved back, "Hi." She stated out loud, seeing Santana smile widen. The darker woman ran her fingers through her hair and Quinntook note of the implant she saw on the side of the woman's head and assumed she had one on the other side as well.

"Ms. Lopez here teaches the 5 to 7 year olds." Curtis signed as he spoke to Quinn as well.

Quinn took note of the way that Santana watched them both intently. She figured the other woman could read lips.

"Hi, my name is Quinn." The blonde extended her hand toward the woman.

"Hi, Quinn, please call me Santana. All the kids do." Curtis spoke on Santana's behalf.

Quinn smiled when Santana reached out to shake her hand. The Latina signed something else to Curtis, causing the man to laugh some and shake his head. "What did she say?" Quinn asked out of curiosity.

Curtis signed something back to Santana and Quinn saw her nod. "She said you're cute."

Quinn instantly blushed before lifting her hand to her chin to sign "thank you" back to her. It was the only bit of sign language she knew and felt herself relax some when Santana smiled widely to her. "May I ask you some questions about what you do here?"

Santana watched Curtis for a moment before she nodded and motioned for Quinn to follow her over to where her desk was. Quinn and Curtis followed Santana across the room as the kids read through their assignment that Santana gave to them. Quinn took her time asking some questions to Santana and recording all of Curtis' answers on Santana's behalf.

They spent nearly a half hour with Santana. The Latina was happy to answer everything that Quinn asked of her. "The article should be up by the end of the week. It will be sent to the dean once it's ran." She explained as she turned off her recorder and tucked it back into her bag before standing up.

"I look forward to reading it." Santana signed to Curtis then shook Quinn's hand. Santana watched them for a moment as they left and shook her head some. She thought back to Quinn's reaction when she complimented her but knew she would probably never see her again. Columbus was a big city.

Santana returned to her kids once they closed the door behind them, but she couldn't stop thinking about Quinn. She never had much luck in the dating department. She'd dated women that were deaf and women that weren't. It was always hard both ways. Women that could hear seemed to be more difficult for things to work out because they never understood the struggle Santana felt.