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She made herself known by eating my strawberries.

     Her name was Rosanna. 

Most love stories begin with a sweeping expanse of landscape stuck in time hundreds of years ago, but ours simply started on the roof of our apartment block. 

I often saw her there sitting against the wall in the afternoon. She always wore headphones and a hoodie and when I approached trying to speak to her she would roll her eyes as if bored and disinterested and wander away downstairs. There was ten years between us.

This went on for a while. 

One day she simply scoffed and showed her teeth when she smiled and her eyes were the blue side of green. She was beautiful. 

She shook her head chuckling and pointed her finger at me as if to say, “ Man… You are so dumb. “

Again she wandered away downstairs.

I found a note taped to my door a few days later. It read: I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I LIP READ. YOU MUMBLE!

There was a door number, also, and I went to her apartment, but I didn’t know at the time the note was from her. 

When she answered her door I was stunned. She was wearing her hair out and it was long and dark and straight. Her headphones were dangling from around her neck and her shirt was white. I noticed she had tattoos. 

She smiled and motioned with her hands upward, saying, “ Speak up! I can lip read you. “

I understood her completely. Her speech was very good but slightly impeded and she put her head against my chest and asked me to say, “ The early bird catches the worm.“

She could tell I was a baritone.

I could tell she was into music and it got us talking. I was never much into music and she had a very deep knowledge. She was very smart. Some people are frightened by that, but not me. I’m encouraged to learn and with her I was willing. 

She told me she never wore her hearing aids because although small they were uncomfortable. She was having an operation to correct it finally and how she once heard a car go by when she was a child and it frightened her half to death. Some music she could hear.

We were seen as redundant people. Her hearing, my heart. Not fit for work and we end up living in an apartment block in a bad part of the city where anything can happen. She was brave to live there. 

Over time I met her family and we started doing things together each day. It was healthy for us.  We never got too close. 

As I started meeting her friends I discovered she was a lesbian. It wasn’t something we discussed much  and my reaction made her laugh. There I was falling in love with a deaf lesbian and now left with no balls, no soul, and my heart standing with one beat left, but rocksteady as always.

I accepted it. She knew how I felt and would gently grab my cheeks and tease, “ You’re so cute when you love me. “

She taught me how to sign like a child would. She was a good teacher. It was funny and we’d talk and in moments of silence she would disassociate and start playing with my hair. 

During one of those moments she said, “ Your hair’s like a little baby’s hair. It’s really soft. Would you have a sex change? “

     “ Stop that! “

We were good friends and we loved each other and we were happy like that. We never fought. We laughed and when we saw each other we couldn’t help but smile. We bought each other gifts. We were safe together. 

She would play this game and we would sit opposite each other and look into each other’s eyes. She called it meditation. During one of these meditations she leaned in and kissed me. Not deep. Gentle lip kissing.  She was playing with my hair.

     “ I’m scared, “ she said. “ I have to have my operation and I just wanted to get that out of my system. “ 

     She kissed me for a little while longer, then broke off, “ That’ll do. Actually, you’re pretty good. “

      Thanks, I guess?

We were together for the whole thing. We waited at the hospital and she went in for hours and I waited and I waited and I was anxious and no-one was speaking to me. I just wanted to know what the chances of her hearing would really be. 

Turns out it was one hundred percent successful and the first time she heard my voice she couldn’t stop laughing.

When we finally got her home it became a learning experience very quickly. A lot of things frightened her and the healing was painful and she wanted me to stay with her and I did. 

Eventually, she wanted to do things she hadn’t been able to do before, and it was great to be part of it. She got her first real paying job and a permit to drive and started looking for another place to live. She even found a girlfriend. 

Whenever they crossed paths with me, she’d say to her friend, “ Stay away from him. He has a bad reputation. He breaks hearts. “

      Then, she’d look back and wink, and I knew we were still okay. “

One evening she arrived and she was moving the last of her belongings out the following day. She wanted to see me and apologise for leaving me out. 

     I understood, “ It’s okay. I could see you were busy. We were having fun until she came along, though. Bleergh! “ 

     She chuckled, “ Don’t start. Just don’t. “

     I invited her in and we had coffee and she was telling me about all the music she had been listening to and relaxation audio, like thunderstorms, rain, ocean tides, and birds. 

     “ We never discovered your favourite song, though, “ she said. “ You never liked music. “

     “ That’s not entirely true, “ I said. “ Only because I don’t listen to music much doesn’t mean I don’t like music. It just has to be good. Hang on a minute. “

     I searched in my phone for a song and gently took the headphones from around her neck. I plugged them in and gently placed the headphones back to her ears. I pressed play. Her eyes widened and she asked,  “ Is this new? “

      “ No, “ I said. “ It’s Split Enz. Message to My Girl. “

     There was no dancing or intimacy but we looked into each other’s eyes for a very long time. 

I saw her once after she moved out. She had split up with her girlfriend and was having dramas and needed a cappuccino and had shopping bags everywhere. 

     Yeah, she let me come over. I stayed the night like old times and sometimes human touch is the best remedy. 

     We laid in a tangle of sheets like teenagers doing something we shouldn’t be doing, laughing about it, exploring each other. She said, “ I just had to get it out of my system. “

I understood. I had to get it out of my system, too. That’s what some people have to do.

Most love stories begin with a sweeping expanse of landscape stuck in time hundreds of years ago, but ours simply started on the roof of our apartment block. 

L Christopher Hennessy lives in Coffs Harbour NSW, Australia. His poetry and stories have been published worldwide. He lives quietly and should probably have a cat.

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