A Box of Chocolates

Movie On The Lawn 

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

 Rora was all ready for the movie that was to play in the stadium. What was it called again? Grease? Well, whatever it was this would be her first watching it. She usually watched action and horror films mostly because their plots were less dialogue-driven. But every now and then she would try her hand at the other types of movies. She was pretty sure there wouldn't be captions for her and reading lips would be hit or miss but she didn't care. Besides, if she enjoyed what she saw she could always watch it again at her place with captions.

 Aurora weaved her way through people who had already claimed their spots with blankets and personal belongings until she found an opening in the distant. Aiming to make it her own, she made sure she had a good hold of her blanket and case of Angry Orchard Rose and started making her move. She hoped she would get there in time. It was so hard not to step on anyone or trip on anything. Unfortunately, it was enough to slow her down and as she was just a step away someone else arrived...

This... was not the kind of thing Jane normally did. That many people, all close together. And especially people sitting or standing behind, where she couldn't see them. But Jane frequently made unhealthy decisions in the name of branching out (even though they never helped), and she really liked Grease, and her neighbors were having a loud party anyway. So. Here she was.

A folded quilt clutched to her chest, she weaved her way across the lawn, eyes set on an empty spot just big enough to give her a little buffer room as well.

She made it without stepping on anyone and also without having a panic attack. Small victories, Jane supposed. But when she moved to spread out her quilt, another woman stopped across from her, apparently also gunning for the spot.

"Ah--you c-c-can have it." She bundled her quilt back up under one arm and gestured at the open lawn with her other hand, which then found a home at her neck, rubbing at it self-consciously.


 Rory was ready to give up the idea on the spot that was being claimed. She was sure there'd be another one for her to find. But then the other took notice of her in which she then quickly gathered her blanket and offered it to her. Rory looked at her lips but..it was hard to determine what she was saying to her. Thankfully she gestured to the spot which helped her understand. She had to hold back a giggle at how awkward the girl seemed. She found it cute.

 Having her own blanket tucked between her body and arm she was able to raise a hand to wave at her as if to say "No no, it's okay". She also pointed at the spot. It was only fair she have the spot since she was there first even if it was by a few seconds. She was about to turn and hunt for a new spot when an idea came to mind. "Share?" It looked like there was enough for two and she couldn't see a reason why they shouldn't. Although she would understand if the girl before her wished not to. She was a stranger after all.

Sharing would be a terrible idea. Jane didn't do well with people she was ostensibly friends with -- or at least friendly acquaintances, by virtue of being packmates -- so sharing space with a random woman would be even worse. Packing her figurative bags and just going home was clearly the smarter choice.

"Sure." Despite herself, Jane offered a small smile.

She unbundled her quilt and spread it out, large enough that the stranger's blanket would have to overlap it. Jane then carefully perched on the edge, trying to take up as little room as possible, with her backpack sat behind her and knees drawn up to her chest.

She tried to ignore the phantom pricking on the back of her neck, the anxiety from leaving her rear unguarded. This was fine.

Once the woman sat, Jane angled her face toward her. "I'm Jane." She didn't offer her hand to shake, which made her feel even worse. This was fine, she repeated silently.

 Rory was actually surprised she agreed. She was already prepared in her mind to go look for another spot but now she didn't have to. She smiled with friendliness flowing out. Once the other finished spreading out her quilt she placed her own next to it. It overlapped the woman's but it seemed she didn't mind at all. She made herself comfortable, sitting Indian-style with her box of drinks sitting next to her.

 She took note of where and how the other sat which made her wonder if she was nervous around strangers. Maybe she could help make her feel more comfortable...If that was possible. Rory looked at her face and caught the lips as they moved. She squinted slightly as she analyzed what she saw. "Jane?" She was sure that's what she said. "Aurora." She hoped she said it clearly enough. "You can call me Rory for short."

 Rory twisted away for a second to grab two of her bottles and held one toward Jane's direction. "Drink?" She had plenty to spare.

Jane gave a small nod of confirmation. She looked away when Aurora—Rory turned, figuring that was the end of the conversation, only for the woman to then offer her a drink. "Thanks," she said, her voice tuned a couple octaves higher than normal, and accepted the bottle with another nervous smile.

She twisted the cap off and took an investigatory sip. Pretty decent. Jane let her knees fall to the sides, mirroring Rory's pretzeled legs, and tucked the bottle in her lap where it wouldn't fall when she took her hands away.

She worked herself up to it for several long beats in which she was sure Rory thought she was the weirdest person ever, then turned to face her again. Desperately hoping she wasn't entirely off base and/or about to be incredibly offensive. "Do you sign?" she asked, carefully pronouncing the words and also roughly signing the word... well, "sign", with index fingers rotating in close circles.

 Rory didn't really think of her as weird. She could actually understand, to a point, why she was the way she was. Maybe something traumatic happened to her in the past or maybe she was just a shy person. Could anyone truly blame her? With the outing of Vampires and Weres, anyone would be wary towards strangers. Rory gave a nod in response to her "thank you" she assumed she had said as she twisted the lid off of her own bottle. She took a sip, allowing the liquid to run over her tongue before swallowing it. It had been a while since she had this drink. She forgot how much she liked it. Movement caught her attention which caused her to look at Jane again, hoping she didn't miss anything she had said (if she even spoke).

 Much to her surprise, Jane spoke with her hands which made her share a toothy smile. She nodded her head yes excitedly and mimicked the hand gesture for "sign" followed by pointing at her to see if she knew it well enough. If not she always had a pocket-sized notepad and a pen to write on or she could continue to read her lips now that she was clearly pronouncing what she was saying.

Well it didn't seem like Jane had made any kind of faux pas, thank God. She wobbled her hand in a "so-so" gesture with a sheepish smile. She was rusty -- she hadn't practiced in a couple years. (A year and a half, to be precise.)

A little slowly to make sure her movements were clear enough, she signed a rough approximation of, "Do you prefer to sign?" but she was pretty sure her grammar was off. Then indicated herself and added, "Stutter." A sign she'd very specifically looked up and committed to memory because stammering was not conducive to lip reading.

It took another couple of seconds for Jane to ask herself what the hell she was doing, what did she have to talk about with a stranger? She didn't even like small talk. No one did!

  Rory was very surprised to see Jane sign language more. She didn't expect that she would be meeting anyone that knew to sign language, even if it was a little, at this event. Out of all the people she ran into and ended up sharing a spot with, it was with someone who, at least, knew a little bit of ASL.

 For her, signing was her preferred method of communication mostly because that was how everyone talked in the deaf school she grew up in. All of her friends there spoke with their hands. So it was natural for her. But she knew not many people outside her school knew ASL which forced her to adapt. There were more hearing people than deaf so it would make sense that sign language wasn't well known.

 She couldn't help but smile at the sign language Jane did. Just too cute. She wasn't perfect but she could still understand what she was saying. It made sense why it was hard to read her lips when she first spoke. She stutters. Maybe that was why she knew how to sign? "Yes. But I use paper and pen for people who can't understand when I talk. You learned ASL because of stutter?" She made sure her hand movements were slower than her normal speed. She could feel the eyes of strangers staring at them as if they had never seen sign language before but, as usual, Rory ignored it.

She tracked Rory's hand motions carefully, but the woman signed slowly enough that she had no trouble understanding, thank god.

Jane flushed a little, which was a dumb reaction because she brought it up first. She just really didn't like talking about her speech impediment. "No, college girlfriend was deaf." "Girlfriend"... was not entirely accurate. But she wasn't about to go into that rabbit hole with a stranger.

People were looking at them. Her beast bristled, and Jane's neck pricked with phantom awareness, but she ignored it. Or did her best to, at least, with an unhappy wolf pacing nervously inside her.

 Rory took another good swig of her drink as she watched the other sign. She could have sworn she saw her blush. Was her question too forward? She always had a bad habit of not thinking some things through before speaking.

 So she had a friend in college that was deaf. She wasn't sure if she meant girlfriend as a friend or literally her girlfriend. Her hand twitched only because for a split second she wanted to ask but maybe that would be too forward. Either way, she must have cared about the friend enough to take the time to learn sign language.

"That was nice of you to learn for her." She signed back.

 She glanced at her phone due to a vibration she felt. She thought it was a text but it was just an alert from her email. However, she did take note of the time and it seemed the movie was close to starting. Originally she had planned to find a spot and then go grab popcorn and snacks but had completely forgotten them for obvious reasons.

"Popcorn? I can go get some for us."

Jane smiled sheepishly and gave a small shrug. She couldn't claim it'd been an act of kindness; a small but loud part of her had only done it for her own benefit.

But no one needed to know that.

She looked down at her lap and took another small sip of her drink as Rory checked her phone. Then the woman offered to get them popcorn? "Us" being a key word in that offer?

"Sure." Her gaze went down and to the right as she tried to remember the sign for candy, nose wrinkled slightly in consternation. She failed and ended up finger-spelling it instead. "I brought candy. If you want some." Shit, she sounded like an eight-year-old, but who didn't like Twizzlers and M&Ms?

 A giggle that Rory failed to conceal came out. It was clear that Jane couldn't remember the hand sign for candy. She raised her pointer finger and placed it in the "dimple" spot of her cheek and performed the sign for the word.

 Candy, popcorn, and a good drink? In her opinion, that was a pretty good combo. She grinned like a kid in a candy shop. "Yes! She then chugged the rest of her bottle, which was only a quarter of it left. "Be right back." Rory then got up, brushed her pants off, and headed off to one of the stands that offered popcorn.

 It looked like it was a good thing she waited to get some, the line wasn't as bad as when she first got there. When she got to the person handing them out, she motioned for two bags and once the transaction was complete she weaved her way back to their spot. She was able to carefully sit without a spill. She settled in before handing off one of the popcorn bags. "You've seen this movie before?"

Oh god, Rory giggled at her. She smiled weakly in thanks as the woman supplied the missing word, then a little more easily when she expressed thrill at the offer of candy. Alright! Alright, this was fine.

She exhaled a pent breath when Rory departed to acquire popcorn. Relax, Jane. She scooted closer to the middle of her blanket and dug out the bags of Twizzlers and M&Ms from her backpack, carefully opening them and then setting them to her right where they'd be between her and Rory. Jane extracted a Twizzlers to nibble on.

Rory returned, and Jane accepted the offered bag of popcorn with a habitual and mumbled "thanks". She tucked it in her lap beside her drink.

Jane started to sign a response to Rory's question before remembering there was still a Twizzler in her hand. She stopped to set it down on one of her criss-crossed legs.
"Yeah, a couple times. Have you?"

Rory thought she would end up getting bored and now she was enjoying herself. She could only hope Jane was getting, at least, a little more comfortable with her around. It must be a good sign if Jane moved closer, right? As she settled into her seat and had already given her a bag of popcorn, she then dropped her gaze to eye the candy selection between them. She was torn between the two but eventually settled on the M&Ms.

She watched her hands in response to her question, smiling at her again. Rory shook her head now before putting the bag of M&Ms down so that she could respond. "My first time. Is it good?" After she finished signing it just occurred to her how stupid that question was. If she had seen it a few times then it had to be good. Who would sit through a movie more than once if they hadn't liked it? She picked up the candy again and tore it open. Popping a few in her mouth along with some popcorn for a better experience.

"It is—" she immediately stopped for a beat, then finger-spelled, "d-a-t-e-d." Jane's ASL vocabulary wasn't expansive enough to manage a detailed conversation on feminism, but she made a floundering attempt, "But a cool c-r-i-t-i-q-u-e of 1950s sexism." (She clearly had priorities on what signs she focused on and recalled.)

Except that definitely wasn't an answer to Rory's question. Jane flushed a little, mentally kicking herself because discussing 1950s sexism with a stranger was weird. "I like it. A guilty pleasure."

Rory ate M&Ms and popcorn at the same time, which distracted Jane for a couple seconds as her brain wrapped around this totally innocuous action. That was cute. And it was weird that Jane found that cute.

Again she let out a giggle. Both at the attempted signing with candy still in her hand and what she said about the movie. Despite the comment, she seemed to like it though. Maybe she would end up liking it too...even if it had sexual discrimination tendencies. "Sounds awesome!" She signed with a bright smile. It was both sarcasm and truth.

Rory couldn't be too sure but was Jade interested in her way of eating her snacks together? Perhaps it was a weird thing to do but it actually tasted good together. She threw some more in her mouth before signing again. "You should try it. I think it's good. Sweet and salty." She even moved one of the unclaimed bags of M&Ms closer to Jade in a way of persuading her to try it.

Of course Rory caught Jane's look, but at least she didn't seem to be interpreting it as weird? This was fine. She was a grown ass woman totally capable of having an encounter that didn't end in a trainwreck, and Rory had been so nice thus far that it shouldn't even be hard.

She smiled at Rory nudging the candy closer to her, and she playfully exaggerated her skepticism as she plucked up the bag of M&Ms and shook a couple out onto her hand. Then a handful of popcorn and... okay yeah that was actually pretty good.

"You are the candy expert," she conceded, recalling the sign Rory had provided earlier. Jane replaced the bag of M&Ms between them, angled a little toward the other woman, and drained the last of her hard cider in a long swallow.

Maybe Aurora was the weird one. Usually, deaf people hung out with their own "kind" to make their already challenging life easier. And sometimes that was what she would do; keep to herself and not interact with the hearing. The only reason she was more open to talking with anyone and everyone was mainly because of her job and the fact that none of her friends lived where she did now. It was a hard decision to move away from everyone she knew and love but for her business, it was a must. Anyway, it was easy "talking" with Jane. It helped that she knew enough ASL to make communication nice and entertaining.

Jane appeared to be skeptical of the idea of the combo and Rory also playfully made motions to persuade her to do it. She watched her waiting to see the reaction and as expected she liked it. She laughed at her comment and proudly nodded. "I know." Apparently she also liked the drink enough to finish it off so she offered her another bottle if she wanted. She didn't mind sharing more. She knew she wouldn't finish the entire case. And it also looked like the movie was about to start seeing as everyone seemed to be settled in.

Jane smiled sheepishly as she accepted another drink, Rory apparently reading her like a book. Not that she was ever a hard person to read.

All in all, this hadn't been terrible. She hadn't panic shifted, and there were no vampires, and she got to share candy and booze with a kind stranger. And embarrass herself with her rusty ASL, but Rory hadn't seemed to mind.

Unsure what to say (or sign) at this point, Jane focused on settling in for the movie, twisting around to adjust the position of her backpack so she could lean against it a little. Not the most comfortable recliner, but it would do.

One thing being deaf had taught Rory was being able to read people. She wasn't perfect but she was damn good at it. Overall, she was glad she bumped into Jane and they shared this experience together. She had a good time and it didn't end up to be boring as she thought it would have been.

The screen lit up and the lights dimmed, the clear sign that the movie was about to start. She gave Jane a pleasant smile before they both turned their focus on the screen. Here goes! As Jane settled in, so did Aurora. She stretched her legs out and crossed them as she used her arms as support while leaning back. She couldn't wait to see how this movie would turn out and hopefully it wouldn't be too hard to follow.



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