BONUS: Lies of the Magpie

Maleah Warner

Bonus Reading

This is a BONUS look ahead to future chapters. This is a selection from Chapter 25. 

Kate’s hearing test is scheduled for this week. When we arrive at the lab, I see no signs of padded earphones from the 1970s or finger rubbing like other doctors have done. Dr. Arya leads us down a hallway to a room that looks like a NASA control center. An attendant helps Kate step into a soundproof booth and instructs her to raise either hand when she hears any sound—a beep, music, or spoken words.

She stands perfectly still looking at me through the glass, eager to perform well on this test. As the sounds start, my arms flinch instinctively. Kate flinches her arms when I do, then stops herself from raising her hand all the way, just as I do. She is looking at me for guidance because she can’t hear any of the sounds that are wildly beeping, buzzing, and bouncing all around her. Unable to stop myself from flinching, I finally have to fold my arms tightly across my chest. Like a mirror image, Kate folds her little arms across her chest and waits for my next cue.

My eyes fill with water. While she is hearing nothing, I am hearing the echoes of a hundred interactions with Kate. I hear my voice crescendo with anger and impatience. “Why do you always chose to ignore me,” I grab her little elbow and jerk her around to look into my fiery eyes. “Why do I have to repeat everything ten times to you?” the face she looks into accuses her of being an obstinate, disobedient girl.

I have been yelling at her for years, trying to make her listen. She has spent the same amount of time trying to hear.

I scan the room for a box of tissue, then ask the attendant if there is a restroom on the floor. I hold up a one-minute sign signaling to Kate that I will be right back. I see her face, innocent behind the glass wall. She understands my gesture perfectly. She has become an expert at reading gestures and facial expressions behind soundproof glass.

As I walk out of the room, my heart twists on itself, as I realize that every time I’d gotten to the point of using gestures to communicate with my daughter, I was already way past patient, far beyond angry and the gestures she saw from me were flailing arms, madly flashing eyes, wide-mouthed beratings. In her short six years of life, this is the communication she has had from me.

We schedule her for surgery, but on the way home all Kate wants to know is if she passed the test.

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