I watch the people talking and am somewhat repulsed, yet drawn to this almost forgotten experience. I'd like to join them, but they do not know my language. Probably they think I'm pretty stuck up. Some may even have tried to talk to me while my back was turned. I don't even know. I turn to watch the traffic. The cars whiz by silently. A bus swings around a distant corner, inching its way to our stop. I strain to see the route number above the windshield but the glass is so scratched up and cloudy that I can not tell what number bus it is. I let the others get on first and then I ask the driver, hoping that his lips will be easy to read. I watch the white incisors press against a full and luscious lower lip. Then both lips move forward and back to form what looks like forty-something. What the something is, I can not tell. It's like playing Wheel of Fortune. I buy a vowel and hope it is the right one. "I can't hear you." I say. He holds up his fingers--forty-six. I climb aboard. As the bus pulls away strangers start to talk and laugh. The woman beside me responds to something she has caught in the air. Her lips move and there is laughter on every face. The driver, a well set man of chocolate hue and southern eyes, trades lip motions with the man sitting by the front door. All heads turn to the back of the bus. Someone has said something back there. I look to see but there is nothing to see. I try to look intelligent, sentient. I try not to slip into a dream world but there is nothing here to hold my attention and my mind must focus on something. I decide to focus on something real rather than a dream. I think of Barbara, one of my few deaf friends. Like me, she was deafened after many years of hearing. With horror we have watched the furious sign language of those born deaf. Do that again. Wait a minute. Are you signifying on me? "Let's go to the play." I say. "No" she says. "I'm tired of smiling when I don't know what I'm smiling about, just because everyone else is smiling." "So what do you want to do?" I ask, tired of her always being tired but trying to understand. I know sometimes it feels like I am in a play and everyone else has read the script except me. And I get tired too, but I can't deal with it by hibernating. I can't let it deaden my personality or fill me with despair. Everything in me longs to reach out to other people and share what God has given me. My tears flow into His bottomless hands that never overflow. I've taken up the heavy cross of living that weighs on me daily and I put myself right in the middle of life because I could not know the joy if I avoided the pain. So I am here in the middle of all this secret laughter. The bus turns onto the freeway as I study the faces around me. Across the aisle sits a man who must surely be the most gorgeous guy God's got. And so tall. To get from his feet to his head I have to make a decision--AT&T or Sprint? He sees me looking and smiles. I smile. His lips move. I could watch those lips forever, don't care what he is saying. But his eyes tell me he is waiting for a response. I pull out a piece of paper and give it to him. "I am deaf' I say. "Please write down what you are saying." "You're very pretty" he writes. "Are you going to work?" "No, I'm going to school. I go to Cal State University." "Really? What are you studying?" "I am working on my English masters." The bus stops and three women come aboard. They pass between us, interrupting the flow of our conversation. I am annoyed. They have not stopped talking for a second. How, I wonder, do people find so much to talk about without having to stop and think? As if it were all prerecorded before birth. From their faces I see that two of them seem to be browbeating the third one who is sucking her teeth and biting her lip at the same time. It's a silent movie without subtitles. The emotions I see are so pure without language. But it's another world. I only feel the frustration of not being a part of it. Maybe I'm reacting to nothing--a kaleidoscope of unreality. I turn my head to change the view and see the guy, but I feel the atmosphere in his mind change as he looks at the three women. I see his eyes reacting to their lips. Consternation and astonishment knit his brows. I read his face like a slow, eloquent lip. But I cannot respond to the realities that are changing him. I'd know what to do in this situation--I'd know what to say if I knew what the situation was. I look at him. Would he tell me? I want to ask but my mouth will not open. He looks at me. He looks right through me. He knows I do not know and seems pleased. He smiles and pats me on the cheek. Then he writes "Goodbye. This is my stop" and gets off the bus. With him goes my ability to scream, but not my will.