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The Notes

The Notes 1200 576 Jason Stadtlander

“Sit down over here” Michael’s mother instructed him as they walked along the balcony of Symphony Hall.

His grandmother had bought him and his parents tickets to the symphony in an effort to help him to become more ‘cultured’. He was wanting no part of it though. He could watch the symphony on YouTube if he really wanted to. What was the point of coming here? The lights dimmed a little and Michael sat up a bit looking toward the stage. There were still people gently talking all around the hall. Then a group of musicians came out carrying instruments and sat down. A few tuned their instruments and remained still. Finally, a man came out and stood on the platform in the spotlight and held up his hand high in the air, then looked at all of the musicians and waved his hand, and simultaneously, they began playing the Theme from Jurassic Park as John Williams directed them in tempo. It sent a chill up the boy’s spine. He was instantly mesmerized. Michael watched the musicians playing, each individual but all part of a greater voice.

That was when Michael saw it.

The boy watched from the balcony as the little girl in the summer dress slowly inched closer and eventually sat next to the large amplified speaker sitting next to the stage. She had long auburn hair and fair skin, both a stark contrast to the pale blue dress she was wearing. The girl had been sitting three seats over from him before the concert began and although the boy had noticed her, he did not speak to her. He had no idea when she had gone downstairs. Now she slowly reached out and touched the speaker, the sounds of the orchestra pouring out of it as John Williams’s right hand swiped from left to right in the air while his left changed pages on his music stand less than fifty feet from her. She closed her eyes and placed her head on the side of the black box and was clearly moved as was the boy sitting a hundred feet away above her. A kettle drum bellowed and she smiled, eyes still closed as the orchestra neared the crescendo of Star Wars. The girl, so small next to the massive speaker, the boy couldn’t believe that the sound wasn’t too much for her to handle. He noticed a few people looking at her and briefly wondered if she was doing something against the rules.

The little girl’s smile was illuminated as if lit up by heaven. She had an ethereal beauty about her and an innocent discovery that he wasn’t completely sure he understood. The girl looked back and up at the balcony, seeing the boy looking down at her and smiled warmly, then pointed at the black box she was leaning on. The boy smiled and shrugged his shoulders, not understanding what she was trying to convey. He stared at her, his blue eyes locked on her brown eyes and for a moment, the room was empty, save the boy, the girl, and the music. For a fraction of time, it made sense to him and the moment passed. Then the girl looked to the boy’s right and moved her hands in front of her face, making gestures at the woman nearby.

The woman looked over at the boy and smiled, causing the boy to have a puzzled reaction, feeling like he was missing something that had transpired between the two of them. The woman leaned across the aisle and whispered to the boy, “She wants to know if you feel the music.”

He looked confused, “Feel the music?”

“My daughter is deaf, she’s never heard music before. This is the first time she has ever experienced a concert and is listening to the orchestra by feeling the vibrations in the speaker down there.”

The boy smiled and looked down at the girl who was eagerly anticipating his response. He nodded and delighted, she went back and put her arms and head down on the box, feeling it vibrate as the next piece in the Star Wars ensemble played out.

Suddenly, the concert was no longer interesting to the boy for the girl was so much more fascinating. She felt the music and she talked with her hands, from across the room. He yearned to understand more.

During the intermission, the girl came back up to her mother gesturing excitedly. The boy stepped across the aisle to the woman. “Why does she move her hands like that?”

“It’s how she talks. It’s called sign language.” The woman made a sign with her hand off of her forehead in a motion, “This means ‘hello’.”

The boy looked at the girl and gestured ‘hello’. The girl signed some more gestures, to which the woman translated. “Her name is Kasmira. She wants to know where you’re from.”

“We live in Chestnut Hill.” he replied, to which her mother translated, speaking aloud as she signed, “He lives in Chestnut Hill, not far from where we live in Cambridge.”

She nodded, “What’s your name?” her mother asked.

“Michael,” he replied, looking over at his own parents who were watching patiently.

The girl’s mother signed out the letters of his name.

“She would like to know if you want to come over for a play date this weekend.”

Michael looked toward his parents and his mother nodded. “Sure, sounds good. Just let me know your address.” his mother said.

Over the next several days, Michael spent over an hour each day watching how to sign on YouTube, he was amazed that there was an entire language that existed where you never had to say a single word out loud.

Saturday finally came and Michael and his parents stood on Kasmira’s step. The door opened and the little girl stood on the step and smiled at Michael. He made the sign for “Hello, thank you for inviting me.” She smiled and said in sign language, “You’re welcome. Would you like to play hide and seek?”

Confused he looked up at her mother who was standing behind her, “She wants to play hide and seek.” He nodded and ran in after her.

~ Check next week for the conclusion ~


Winter Through the Eyes of a Child

Winter Through the Eyes of a Child 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Winter Through the Eyes of a ChildThe drifts of white snow were deep, well above his head. The pale gray sky almost blended perfectly with the horizon as it met the white powder, making it difficult to tell where the snow stopped and sky started. He stood at the glass and aluminum door staring out at the flakes as they blew around, his hands pressed to the glass and his breath fogging the window with each exhalation. He noticed that if he waited for a moment between breaths, the fog would crystallize causing a beautiful pattern on the glass in front of him. The boy desperately wanted to go outside and he had tried to open the door but felt the sting of his mother’s hand on his hand and the big word “No!”

He didn’t know what the word meant, but he knew it always hurt when he heard it. So here he stood, captivated by the beauty in front of him and the beauty beyond the window. It was magical, watching as the flurries blew and the silence that was trapped within them. In his two years of life, each day was forever and every week an eternity. Although his mother had said something to him in words he didn’t understand, he thought he grasped that she said she would take him out. But he couldn’t remember the conversation or what he had understood and now it was in the distant past of his mind, a fading fog. All he knew was that now he wanted to go outside. He blew again on the storm door, the glass fogged and then crystallized. The boy breathed again and the crystals melted, coalesced and then crystallized again in a new shape.

The boy felt a soft warmth on his arm and he looked down. His mother was pulling a sweater onto him with ferocity. She was saying something but he didn’t understand most of what she was saying. She jerked his arm upward pulling his coat over the sweater and his shoulder hurt, but he ignored the pain, because he was still captivated by the window and the frost that had formed, that he had made. His feet were being squeezed into boots and his toes hurt because of the force with which she was putting upon his feet and he cried out in pain. “Stop!” was all he understood in her flurry of words. Another painful word.

Finally the boy stood there, arms puffy, legs wrapped tight and his feet feeling thick. He looked down at himself and although he had never heard of nor seen a sumo-wrestler, had he seen one, he could have related. His mother’s legs and towering face were high above him, she grabbed a shovel and opened the door, the blast of wind and snow surprising the boy. The woman scooped some snow off the front step and then stepped out, grabbing the boy by the front of the coat and pulling him out into the frigid, blustery day. Immediately the boy reached down and touched the white flakes, something he wanted to do forever. But he could not feel them through his mittened hands, so he pulled off his mitten and his arm was struck. He looked up and saw his angry mother, speaking “No!” and more words, then pulling his mitten back on. The toddler stared at the snow, so close to touch it, but unable to do so and felt tears welling up at the torture of it all. His mother who was shoveling, stopped and looked back at him, as tears streamed down his face. That’s when he saw her face melt like the snow and she walked over, sitting down on the step next to him. She said more words, holding his hand in hers. “Cold.”, “Touch?”, “Quickly” was all he understood.

The boy nodded and his mother took off his glove and placed some snow in his hand, he watched as it melted on his warm skin and was surprised at how cold his hand then felt. The woman brushed off his hand, drying it on his coat and then pulled his mitten back on and he once again felt warmth. She balled up some snow and placed it into his mittened hand and then helped him toss it. This was very funny to him and he giggled. Then his mother picked up some more snow and threw it at the same drift she had thrown his at. Again he giggled and she laughed. He understood laughter. Snow was good, it made him happy and he could tell it made her happy as well.

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