My winning entry follows Strum, a musician and Vietnam vet returning without his most valuable sense, his hearing. Coping with a new existence filled with silence, he struggles to adjust to civilian life until his sister, Jody, introduces him to Roxie, a newly homeless mixed-breed dog. Together, they learn to navigate the inevitability of change.
I was inspired to write this story because my mother’s parents were both deaf from infancy. While my grandpa wasn’t involved in our lives, I saw how many challenges my grandma faced and overcame, and how she was siloed in or society because she was deaf.
She loved fireworks because she could hear the big boom of the explosion. She also loved thunderstorms when they were close because she heard the crack of electricity that vibrated the earth beneath her feet. Toward the end of her life, she got new hearing aids which allowed her to hear more subtle sounds. One day, we were sitting around my mother’s kitchen table addressing my wedding invitations. My mom made a mistake on one, and crumpled the envelope up in her hand. My grandmother looked at her, amazement in her face.
“What was that noise?” She signed to us.
“It was paper, Mom,” my mother signed back
Imagine not realizing that just about every single thing: every process, object, action, movement, etc., all produce some sort of sound. It’s one way to attempt to conceptualize how a deaf person experiences the world.