Sark hands

Signs (Becca Ramsey/Haley Braddock, G)

Signs by mayhap
Baby-sitters Club. Becca Ramsey/Haley Braddock. G. 577 words.
I L-O-V-E Y-O-U.

Notes: written for writingvixen for short_takes

It all started with the worst history teacher in Stoneybrook.

She drew up a seating chart and refused to let anybody switch, she wouldn’t let us shorten her name (Wojciechowski), and she made everything boring. The Native Americans were boring. The Salem witch hunts were boring. The midnight ride of Paul Revere was boring!

The only thing I liked about her was that she never called on me in class. I hate being called on in class, especially when teachers single me out because I’m shy and don’t like to raise my hand. The only time Mrs. Wojciechowski stopped lecturing was to yell at us for something, especially passing notes. Somehow, she could always tell when a piece of paper was changing hands somewhere in the room.

I had never passed a note in class in my entire life. Normally I sit quietly and pay attention. Mrs. Watch (which is what we all called her behind her back) forced me to get creative.

My assigned seat was second row from the front, fourth seat from the left. Haley Braddock was sitting next to me, third seat from the left. I didn’t know her that well, but I knew one important thing about her because of my big sister, Jessi. I knew that her little brother Matt was deaf and that she was fluent in American Sign Language.

Jessi had learned a lot of sign language and she was good at it, waving her hands faster and more furiously than Daddy when he’s all worked up. She had taught signs to a lot of kids she sat for, and of course, she had taught signs to me, although I had never been especially good at it.

I tried to remember how to fingerspell my name one day in class. My hand felt for the signs in my lap – B-E-C-C-A. I thought I still had them all right.

Next period during English, I excused myself to look at the dictionary and found the diagram of the finger alphabet. I even worked up my courage to ask Mr. Sparr for permission to make a Xerox of that page, so I could memorize it.

One day I worked up the courage to lean back in my seat and catch Haley’s eye and give her a significant look. Then I held my hand down below my desk and fingerspelled my first message: M-R-S W-A-T-C-H S-T-I-N-K-S.

Haley’s eyes bugged out. Then she covered her mouth like she was hiding a yawn, although her shoulders were shaking with laughter. Y-E-S, she spelled enthusiastically, her chunky pink plastic ring flying with her fingers, and then something I couldn’t quite follow.

W-H-A-T? I signed, using that universal gesture, the shrug. Haley spelled again, with slower fingers: S-H-E-S T-H-E W-O-R-S-T E-V-E-R.

We got in trouble three times for laughing that year, but nobody ever caught on to what we were up to. Fingerspelling was slow, but it was easier to hide than normal signs, which use more of your body. We never spoke a word outside of class, like it would break the spell, or something.

We had been fingerspelling so long that it just felt right when Haley grabbed my hand and spelled into it, I L-O-V-E Y-O-U. I used my mouth to say I love you, too and I tasted the toothpaste on Haley’s tongue and I knew with my whole body that everything would be all right.
Actually, it is not strictly true that you can always stalk my wordcount on the NaNoWriMo website, as you cannot do so when, to take an example completely at random, it is down.