Excerpt from "Deaf"

by Sarah L. Taggart

    She reaches with her palm out, flaps the fingers in a sideways wave. Gimme. The brother ignores her, goes into his meatloaf. The mother is at the stove. She turns, walks toward the kitchen entrance, is met by the husband. They speak. The mother opens her mouth to say more, then shakes her head and returns to the stove. Spoons out the father’s meatloaf, puts it on the table, dishes up her own, sits down. The father sits. The family, at the table. She reaches again toward the ketchup. Intent. Pointing. Stretching over her brother. Looking at the mother. The mother goes for the ketchup, but the father raises a hand and speaks. She pulls back her arm, puts her hands in her lap. Looks into the father’s face. Waits.

    “Use your words,” he says, again.

    “Chup, chup,” she says and reaches. Her brother sighs. She feels the outing of air on her arm. She hopes he doesn’t hit her.

    The mother looks at the father. He turns to her and shakes his head, speaks. She speaks back and rolls her eyes, reaching for the ketchup. She takes off the top, pours a disc of ketchup onto the child’s plate, beside meatloaf overflowing onions. A red moon of ketchup on her plate. Its edges round, then stop. She will leave the meatloaf until last. It will take the burn off her mouth from the canned tomatoes.