Quietest Place In Town


brynn_icon.gif elaine_icon.gif

Scene Title Quietest Place in Town
Synopsis Even the quiet spaces aren't really quiet. And Brynn really really overdoes it the first full day out of the hospital.
Date January 24, 2021

Doyle Memorial Library

Moving between the bookcases, the petite brunette doesn't really look much different than any other patron of the library … aside from the cane and a Goldendoodle with a Service Dog vest on. She has a tote bag on her shoulder over the strap of another backpack that is settled on her back. She is moving slowly, but the cane explains all of it.

Right up until Elaine gets a look at her. Brynn's familiar face is a bit pale and she's clearly juggling too many objects one-handed as she tries to slip a book into the tote for checking out. The dog at her side whines a little and she goes to shush him with a hand gesture and drops the book on the floor. And apparently, that's the one thing too many for the young woman because she looks down at it and drops her head entirely, her body language abject dejection and surrender.

There’s something familiar and comfortable about physical books in a brick-and-mortar library, and escaping the technology of Yamagato Park for a while simply adds to that for Elaine. It’s something different. As she rounds the corner of a row of shelves, she’s able to spot Brynn and her plight. Instinctively, she moves to quickly retrieve the book, snatching it up and offering it in Brynn’s direction with a warm smile. Seeing familiar faces seems to even have put her a little more at ease. Book still extended to Brynn, she signs one-handedly in her direction.

Brynn! It’s good to see you. Do you want some help?

When the dog nudges her leg, Brynn's chin comes up and she immediately tries to hide all traces of the fact she was just about to burst into tears in public. She offers Elaine a grateful smile and looks down to offer the tote from her right shoulder so the book can be dropped into it. Only when it's situated back on her shoulder does the girl lift her right hand awkwardly and slowly sign her thanks. Some of her signs are modified but at least that one is easy. The rest of the sentence she signs is laboriously slow.

Thank you so much, Elaine. I thought I could do something this simple alone. The expression in her face still seems discouraged, but she is pushing forward despite that. Don't tell Lance or Joe? she begs. They'll scold. She should have waited for one of her siblings — she knows it. But she's too used to being independent.

There’s the sound of a small laugh from Elaine. Don’t worry, secret is safe with me. I know what it’s like to be scolded by overprotective people. I think you’re doing pretty well out here from what I gather. She takes a moment to gesture to the cane. I sincerely hope there’s no one I need to beat up.

She grins, clearly hoping for a smile at that. She does pause to scan Brynn over visually, perhaps a bit of a double check to make sure there aren’t any additional physical causes for concern.

Oh, there are people to beat up over this. Just no one has a clue who they are yet. The question brings a brief moment of … maybe it's anger, though Brynn isn't one to get angry often. She signs laboriously, Should be scolded. Not supposed to be out yet, she admits. She only just got out of the hospital yesterday.

As she struggles to find the shortest way to explain, it becomes evident that what she's doing is the ASL equivalent of slurring her words — her signs are incomplete, sloppy, and far slower than is usual. The hand on the four-footed cane has white knuckles. Sit? Brynn invites, nodding toward a nearby set of chairs. Coming today has taken far more out of her than she thought possible. It was a really stupid thing to do, she's realizing.

I’ll leave the scolding to them. I honestly believe it’s sometimes good to try these things for yourself. Elaine glances towards the chairs, then heads in that direction, being sure to turn enough so that her signs can be seen while they walk. Take your time, there’s no rush. For once, it seems like she has no plans to go run off to. She finds a seat in one of the chairs, making sure that the other is easy to slide into.

I’d ask how you’re feeling, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that. So instead I’ll tell you that it’s good to see you, even if it’s under these circumstances.

Her movements are very slow, her footsteps uncertain. But Brynn focuses on them and watches her steps carefully. Once they arrive at the chairs, though, she looks relieved. Although her signs still seem unfinished at times, she seems to be at least able to communicate some.

Yeah. Don't let anyone say strokes are fun. Not that anyone has ever said that. But to hear it from a girl as young as Brynn is jarring in ways that hearing it from, say, a grandparent is not. I don't feel too bad. Tired a lot. Headache sometimes. Her hands are moving slowly but having both of them available make her a little more fluent. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing. You have a pretty voice, she offers shyly.

Elaine's eyes widen. A stroke Brynn? Are you okay? I mean, you are to a certain extent and not in another extent but… coping with that must be hard. She does pause, noting the mention of a voice. Her eyes widen again. The stroke made it so you can hear? That's something that has her attention and she shifts her weight on the chair to face Brynn more fully. Her being able to hear is significant.

Words sound prettier in other languages, if you want to hear those. French is very… flowy. Smooth. Elegant. Honestly, it's something I appreciate hearing but obviously not many people are as multilingual as I am. The redhead continues to speak her words with the signing, perhaps a touch louder so that Brynn won't strain to hear if she's listening.

Because of Elaine's fluency in ASL, Brynn feels comfortable even with her own somewhat awkward and mangled signing. Long story. And not one, maybe, that she can even attempt in her current state of signing ability. She's truncating her 'speech' with shorter phrases so it's not quite so obvious that she's struggling, but she isn't hiding it. Don't know why, she says of her hearing. Lots of things are really weird. Don't really know how I'm doing. The admission is hard. She tries to stay really positive around her siblings, but the physical limitations of the cane, the blinding headaches that come with no warning, and just the sheer exhaustion of fighting with her body every minute is a lot.

With a weary smile, though, she tells Elaine, You can speak in any language — can't understand a thing you say anyway. She's sincerely amused that she's been given the gift of hearing, but that she can't actually understand a damn thing yet. Everything is noise. All the time. The library is the most peaceful place she's been, actually.

I hate to say they're right but Lance and Joe might have a point. You're tired and it's not the normal sort of overworked tired that I see in myself. Just getting out of the hospital doesn't mean you're better. You should probably take baby steps.

Elaine's expression is one of concern, but not in an overbearing 'I'm chiding you for taking on too much' sort of way. Perhaps you may not be able to understand what I'm saying, but at the very least you can hear sounds. You can hear that. Some of it is soothing. Get someone to read you a story, even if you don't understand the words. Just get people to talk to you so you get used to it.

She seems to be in thought for a moment. Language is what I'm good at. Communication through various different means. Though, having your hearing back likely would be a bit distracting. You still living at the Lanthorn? Yamagato has some really neat technology, I'm sure we have something that filters noise so that you can focus on voices and not background noise. It might be worth checking out. I'll do some investigating and see what I can come up with and bring it by. If I can help, I'd be glad to. It's rough enough dealing with any sort of pain you've still got, you don't deserve something like your hearing to make things actually a new problem.

Elaine does offer a small smile. But speaking other languages is nice, even if you don't understand it. Like I said, French is lovely. Kind of soothing to listen to if you ask me. Robyn used to slip into French all the time like it was no big deal and I always liked to just listen. It's beautiful. There's a tinge of sadness in her tone, but the smile doesn't fade.

Brynn is happy to 'listen' to both Elaine's sound and her hands. She does grimace at the taking it easy part but looks like she agrees that it was a dumb plan. Her left hand drops down to pet Doodlebug while she watches the explanation.

One of the agents has a different sound to his voice when he talks, she signs thoughtfully. When she's not paying such close attention, it seems smoother though still awkward because her hand might not be where she expects. Trying not to get too attached, honestly. She's half-expecting it's going to be taken away and she doesn't want to be left devastated. I like to listen though. Maybe guys will read for me.

Elaine's smile continues to be a kind one, a gentle one of reassurance and a touch of sympathy. I know growing up, I always felt it was hard to get attached to people and places because it could be taken away from me at any time. The Lighthouse was one of the things that hurt the most when I left. But I've come to realize that it's better to have that attachment than to not have it, regardless of how long you have it for. Life is incredibly short to deny ourselves things that make it just a little bit easier.

She offers an amused smile, switching to Japanese as she makes the signs, just for a change in the sounds of the speech. You tell them they need to read to you or they'll have a big sister coming in and scolding them for not helping you. Don't be afraid to ask them, I'm sure they'll be happy to help. And if they don't? Send me a message. I need an excuse to get out more anyway.

Although she registers the difference in sounds that come from Elaine — the way her voice rises and falls, the change in cadence and emphasis — the signs remain understandable. Brynn's interest is piqued in the same way as when she heard the two agents in the hospital, one from deep Louisiana and one from England.

Different language? she asks curiously. And she nods with a smile, Promise I will ask them. Maybe text you anyway? she adds with a cautiously hopeful look. She would really like to see more of Elaine. She's a soothing presence in Brynn's in the new chaos of sound.

That’s Japanese. I use it a lot at work. There are days lately that I speak it more than I do English. That, of course, says a lot about Elaine’s current work life. But let me know anytime you need me. Or just want me to drop by with the best food from Yamagato Park. I’m more than happy to. Especially given how things are for you right now. If you need anything, just let me know.

She switches from Japanese to French as she signs, the languages flowing seamlessly from one to the other. To be honest, I really enjoy being able to share this with you. I can’t imagine how that sounds to you. Kind of exciting. I can imagine it’s a little much though. So feel free to tell me to be silent if you need the quiet again.

It's funny — Elaine might actually be the first person to realize that processing everything she's hearing for the first time in her life is part of the reason Brynn is so exhausted all the time. Her siblings obviously still sign for her, but they also talk while they sign — and she finds that she has to retreat to her room to be alone way more often than she ever expected. The profound silence of her world has been shattered and she gets overwhelmed by the amount of noise that actually exists in the world. Even in the library, ostensibly the quietest place in town.

I will, she signs, with a weary smile. Your offer extend to maybe taking me home? Brynn's signs are definitely getting worse the longer she's here. She's overdone it today, evidenced in the set of her expression. She's not in pain, from all appearances, but walking from here to the Lanthorn is definitely out of her reach at the moment.

Absolutely. You think I'm going to just leave you here after having seen how tough it was to even try and pick up a book? I'm not gonna chide you like others might, but it doesn't mean I'm not going to be protective of those who are basically my family.

Elaine gets to her feet, signing once more before offering a hand. Come on, let's get you safely home and settle you in somewhere even quieter than here.

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