Prompt: I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou
Fandom/Series: Koi no Katachi
Word Count: 840
Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, profit from the story and all creative rights to the characters belong to their original creator(s).
Summary: I am deaf. I cannot speak and I cannot hear. For a long time, I drowned in a sea of silence until someone heard my voice. And I heard theirs.
I don’t remember who, but there’s something a famous person said once. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
But there’s something someone said to me that I will never forget, not for the rest of my life. To everyone else, words hold little worth. Pretty words get thrown around in superficial flattery and harsh insults are easily reduced to a simple joke among friends. Apparently, the average woman will speak between 13,000 to 20,000 words a day. It’s true when there’s too much of something, its value decreases. People don’t really trust what other people say anymore, because there’s no more meaning behind these clichéd words that lack sincerity. But to me, words remain precious.
The amount of words that are said to me each day might number maybe a hundred, but never over a thousand. The number of words I utter is zero.
Ah, I forgot to mention.
My name is Nishimiya Shouko and I live in a world of silence. People avoid speaking to me because there’s no point. I can’t hear. When they try, they bring their face close to mind and with ugly, twisted expressions they scream the words into my ear, spit flying in all directions. I would rather they didn’t. But I cannot speak.
Due to my disability, I was bullied in grade school. For a long time, I blamed myself. It is difficult for somebody who receives so little communication from others to understand what other people want of them. I did not understand why people wished to hurt me, why they hated me, or what I could do to fix whatever was wrong with me. Even when I asked, they did not hear.
The bullying was something that was not easy to forget. As a result of it, I transferred schools and from then, terrible thoughts would always weigh me down. I felt apologetic for how burdensome I was on my family and on my peers.
So I would wonder, “If my existence is so burdensome, why am I here?”
Everybody has such thoughts, I think. An inner voice. Words that never reach the outside.
For a long time, I longed for someone to speak to me and tell me the answer.
It was not until high school that someone finally appeared before me.
The very person who had bullied me most during grade school.
Naturally, I ran when I saw him, a flood of memories returning that I’d have rather remained buried. I wondered how he had found me and why he was there.
That was when he said to me the words I had been longing for.
“Things would have been so much better back then if we had heard each other’s voices. Nishimiya. Me and you. Can we be...friends?”
I was shocked that he had learned sign language. With trembling hands, he formed words only I could understand and for the first time we were able to hear each other. I had been waiting for those words for so long. Words that lifted the burden off my shoulders, that told me it wasn’t my fault, that I shouldn’t curse my existence, but that there was a mistake in the past and that we were going to mend that together.
Maybe that famous person was right after all.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I had thought I would never be able to forget the bullying from kindergarten or Ishida who broke my hearing aids. Even though I no longer resented him, memories are not something that can be erased as easily as chalk on a blackboard. Even chalk still leaves faint white streaks and a blackboard never truly returns to black. But I learned then that it was the words and the actions that created the feelings that people never forget. If not for those words Ishida spoke to me with his hands, if not for the desperation he chased me with even when I tried running when I saw him, how could I possibly fathom this happiness that is so unlike the happiness I had only read as a meaningless definition in dictionaries and seen in the smiles of other people but never myself?
Most of all, what Ishida taught me on that unforgettable day is that if there is something you wish to forget but no matter how hard you try, are unable to, then it is only through feeling something even greater that you will be able to forget it. Like the snow that disappears in summer, the hope Ishida gave me completely melted all memories I had of grade school and were replaced by memories that I can only smile about now.
From then, he only continued to give me reasons to keep on smiling.
I am deaf. I cannot hear or speak.
But Ishida still heard my voice.
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