I never had a way with words. I was a bumbling fool as soon as I opened my mouth. My childhood was a misery, as I couldn't even fight.
"Whatcha trying to say Harry?" I would be taunted as I stuttered my way through life. It wasn't much better at home as I would be warned not to talk to visitors lest they be embarrassed, when I was one that was suffering.
One thing I never dared do was to talk to girls. That was the pits. I looked at them and they looked at me, that was the total sum of our communication. They knew better than to try all normal interaction by voice. Luckily schoolwork was not a problem, I sat, I listened and I did. The teachers gave up getting me to stand up and orally describe my weekend, my favourite animal or a visit to Wet and Wild. Lessons just didn't last long enough for that! So little Harry quietly did his work, presented it up, and achieved pretty good grades.
So what did I do when I left school? Well, I graduated in English. No, no please don't laugh, this is a serious story. I must get on, let me finish because I have got a date. There you go you are laughing again. The truth is that my siblings and I came into some money from a "Rich" uncle. Anyhow when I was 22 I bought an old second hand book shop and whiled my days away reading and selling books. It paid my rent and fed me and I thought that life was OK. I didn't have to say much in the shop, the books were all priced and a really determined effort allowed me to say a few words before a foreign language emerged to baffle the customer. I am kidding of course, but you will appreciate I kept conversation to the minimum. When customers looking for something would ask me for an author, title or subject, I would leave my counter and show them the selection available. Barely a word spoken.
Then everything changed. Almost dozing at the counter one evening, I was awoken by a touch on the arm. What a cutie she was, as brown as a berry, a beautiful curvy body, a warm, shy smile and clearly in need of a book. She pulled at my sleeve and pointed down the shop. I was entranced and as we went down the aisle together she pointed to the fantasy novel section that teenagers go ape about. I thought she was a bit old for that but then it all became clear. She had just discovered literature because her development had been slowed by illness. She looked at me straight in the eyes always. She spoke barely a word and what came out made my speech sound like oratory by Martin Luther King. She was profoundly deaf. Clearly the dragon slayer book she wanted was not there so she grabbed an earlier book, went straight to the list of novels in the series and nodded encouragingly over the one she wanted. Our peculiar conversation if you could call it that was interspersed by her automatically "signing" in what I later found out was "Auslan" or Australian sign language. She was speaking loud and clear, only it was I who was the deaf one in the conversation! Luckily I had put by the book she wanted for another customer who had yet to be contacted. So I returned to the desk, produced the book and presented it to her. The look on her face was a joy, she came up and hugged me, and that was the start of our romance. I still have the shop, and Melanie, my beautiful, deaf girlfriend helps me there too. I'm learning her sign language, Auslan and she is improving with her essential words of speech. My speech defect is just about gone as it is important that she can read my lips and stuttering would not help. What an incentive she has been for me.
I have to shut the shop now as I am taking Melanie out. Yes, yes, I am going to propose. Not that it will surprise her as we both knew that very first time we met that it was all we ever wanted. Despite appearances our communication skills were always top rate; we were very fluent in our understanding of each other.