Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
By Peter Stone
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“Can’t sleep,” Sandra sighed as she sat on rumpled bed covers.
“Because of the termination tomorrow morning?”
“I'm having second thoughts,” Sandra admitted, trying to make out her husband’s face in the gloom.
“We've been through all this,” he admonished gently.
“You’re carrying a defective foetus, that's all it is. We both agreed there’s no point in allowing the pregnancy to continue; not now that we know the foetus has irreversible hearing loss.”
“It's a baby, not a foetus,” she said.
“Whoa, where’d that come from? You’ve been calling it a foetus too. Look, we both agreed, yeah? The doctor said the nerve damage is permanent, it cannot be treated - the child would be stone-deaf for life. What kind of life would the child have? What kind of lives would we have? There would be no point - we both agreed on that. Now, why don't you tell me what's really going on, why this sudden change of heart?”
“I saw Janice today,” said Sandra.
“Oh great, that religious freak?” he moaned.
“Don’t call her that, John, she’s been very supportive. Last week I told her what I was going through, and this morning she dropped over, grabbed my hand and took me for a drive.”
“Where did she take you?”
“To Brentleigh, you know, the secondary college for the hearing impaired.”
“And what did you see there?” John pressed as he reached over and turned on the bed lamp.
“She took me to the year-twelve class. The students, being deaf, didn’t even notice us enter the room. However, the teacher must have been expecting us because she took us over to stand directly behind the seven kids as they watched a youtube video. You should have seen them, John. They were clapping, smiling, and energetically signing at each other. Some were even laughing, you know, the way deaf kids do.”
“Why, what were they watching on youtube?”
“They were watching this hilarious slapstick silent comedy, Charlie Chaplin style. Seven kids were taking turns trying to sit on a chair, but a plush-toy cat kept flying in from off screen and sent each kid sprawling to the floor. The performers were awesome, their expressions, their acting, I was in stitches. Then at the end of the video, one kid held up an old-fashioned sign saying, ‘No animals were harmed in the making of this video,’ following by another sign that said, ‘Performed by students of the Brentleigh College for the Hearing Impaired.’ And that’s when it hit me. Those seven kids in front of me were the ones in the video. That was when their teacher explained to me that the kids had made the video for a drama project. And the reason they were so ecstatic was because the clip had already received thousands of hits and hundreds of glowing comments.”
John studied his wife’s face intently. “And?”
“That's when I realised our mistake,” she said.
“That we erred when we thought that being physically and mentally healthy were pre-requisites for being able to enjoy life. Those seven deaf teenagers were living life to the full, savouring every moment. Our child is deaf, I know, but who are we to rob him or her of having the same kind of future that these kids have?”
“So you want to have this baby, now?” said John, dumbfounded.
Sandra nodded emphatically. “You know how delighted I was when I found I was pregnant, and the depths of despair to which I fell after we learned the baby was deaf? But today changed everything. Now I want to have this child and face the challenges with my head held high.”
Conflicting emotions warred across John’s face for what seemed an eternity. Finally, his shoulders slumped and he said, “Do you have any idea how hard this will be?”
“I know – I’m scared witless, but I still want to do it,” Sandra admitted as she looked up hesitantly.
“Having a deaf child will impact every aspect of our lives.”
“After I saw those kids in Brentleigh today, I’m willing to pay that price.”
John thought furiously for a few moments before nodding slowly. “Okay, let’s do it - but first, can you show me that youtube video?”
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