One Direction Imagine– Chapter 1 “Up All Night!”
“Up All Night”
When I was born the doctors told my parents I might turn deaf when I was older.
They weren’t exactly surprised, because they are deaf too. Anyways, a hearing kid wouldn’t fit in an environment where most people are deaf, right? So, my handicap could be considered almost a blessing during my childhood. Maybe, but things took a turn for the worse when my dad got fired from his job as an accountant and I had to stop going to my old private special needs school and instead was sent to a regular one in Bay’s District.
My teenage years weren’t much fun. Eventually my dad got a new job, but we never had enough start up cash lying around for me to return to Grayson Chancellor’s School For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing.
It took a long time to convince my parents to let me have a Cochlear Implant. To them, to throw away our lifestyle like that was not only disrespectful but also an action comparable to treason.
When I turned 18 they coldly conceded. I think they still resent me a little for it.
About three months later, including recovery, I was leaving the hospital and listening. That Wednesday evening, outside my old jailhouse, every sound was new and foreign and precious and amazing! Every echoing step was into a new life, and every heart beat symbolic of it.
Then I stood still. What should I do now that I could hear? I had spent so much time thinking about how great it’d be that I hadn’t focus much on what I’d actually do. It had to be special; my hearing had gone when I was nine and I needed to celebrate its return.
Then I knew, I’d go to the city concert hall and buy a ticket to whoever was there. My brother, who doesn’t have the family gene, had said, when recounting one of his “humorous” anecdotes to the rest of us, that there were always people willing to sell their tickets last minute for the right amount of cash. My other brother always listened to these stories mournfully since, for us two, to attend such an event would have been an excersice in futility.
But now I could and I would.
Oh, I remember that day like it was yesterday. I walk to the town concert stadium, and go up to this guy who looks like he fits in almost too much, with his raggedy clothes, day old stubble and manic glare, and ask him if he knew where I could get tickets. Turns out I spoke to the right person.
(Oh, I forgot to mention, because I wasn’t born deaf I can actually speak English pretty well and for years could communicate just fine through lip reading.)
The man obviously isn’t one hundred percent sober.
“I don’t know…” he says “Me and my girl really dig this band…”
He is lying. I know it. He knows it. But we both keep up pretences like in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe? I honestly doubt he knows who’s playing anymore than I do.
“Gee! But they’re my favorite band!” I honestly had no idea who the hell was playing “I really like… that one song of theirs, you know that really catchy one about love.” I hoped the genre for the night wasn’t anything like death metal; otherwise my lie would be even more obvious. I mean, hello, the doctors had only cleared me literally that day. What did I know about music?
“Well, I suppose if you really want the ticket… I could give it to you for 300$”
Give?? For 300??
But finally we’re down to business. Only it’s still a game and we both know the price isn’t right.
“Gosh!” (I had to control myself from saying golly; I’m practically doing the whole southern politeness gimmick) “But I only have 125! What ever can I do know?”
Cue the fake tears, eye bating and the false comforting on his part. Eventually we settle on a number we both think is somewhat fair: 160.
“Ok, man, enjoy yourself then.” the man says as he turns his back on me and starts targeting some other potential customer.
Man? I’m a girl but spoken English is weird. Oh, well, I think, I better just walk in.
The entrance advertises a band called One Direction, which consists only of cute British boys. Suddenly I’m not so happy about my newly acquired skill of hearing because hundreds of hysterical fans are screaming to get in and the sound is overwhelming. I cover my ears and try to cower but then the gates open and the girls and I are driven like cattle into a very, very, large room, the largest I’ve ever been in. I regain consciousness, so to say, and try to find my place.
I’m standing and the girls around me seem to be giggling hysterically. Some of them have boyfriends along with them, most of which with sour looks on their faces, and I’m starting to feel lonesome because I want someone who comes with me to things they apparently find dumb or bad just because they love me. I’m distracted for like a second, because then the music starts and the lights dim and I’m not lonely anymore because the sound is filling the arena and it reaches my heart and completes it and everything is perfect for once.
The boys appear suddenly out of nowhere. Apparently they seem to have shot up from the floor through pyrotechnics and they say some really nice things to their overjoyed fans. They seem really nice, and quirky and utterly charming and handsome! I like them already, specially the one with the darker skin, who is dead cute!
When they sing, everybody listens. Even the boys who seemed to be only there to keep their girlfriends company seem to adore that sound.
The music is like a shot of adrenaline and I think I’m in a dream because I feel like I know I can do anything.
I feel ethereal! I finally get it! Music is life and death; beginning and end; peace and a war. A kind of raw energy like a poised whiplash. I need it, I am it, I breath it! Who are these people who fill my being and make me feel so strange and wonderful?
It seems a cliché, but that moment could have been forever or it could have been none. Because then it ends as it starts ends, and everyone is happy and content and satisfied and they leave and I don’t get it because how can you leave the music behind like that?
I refuse to believe that that was just it. So I stay and stare and I don’t move until the lights turn back off. And still I stand, but then, I hear someone come in and it’s them! The boys from that band!
One of them seems to have forgotten something on stage and asks the others to come and help him find it. I’m still invisible and in shock.
One of them points at me. Had I not been frozen I’d most likely have blushed. They come to me and I remember thinking that I have to put myself together or I’ll die of humiliation.
“Hello”, said one of the boys.
“Hi”, why am I feeling so shy??
Awkward silence of course. They stared, I stared. Then the short haired one goes:
“Hmm…” You know the shows over, right? That’s all folks!” He says that last part in a humorous way and I suddenly remember that that’s a Looney Toones thing and crack a smile.
“Really? You know, I did think the concert was taking a long time to start.”
So he’s smiling too and I’m thinking about how wonderful it is to have normal conversations.
In the background, a little further away, the one with the darkest skin nudges another boy and mentions how fans always stare at their lips and how you think they tended to burst into song at all moments like characters in Disney movies.
The air tenses up. Suddenly I’m mad. It isn’t my fault that I used to be deaf and had to resort to lip reading. Deafness is a genetic mutations, I’m not to blame! And I’ wasn’t some hysterical groupie, I’d never heard of them and I wasn’t willing to swoon at their feet.
“For your information, I am – that is to say, I was – deaf until a few months ago when I had a Cochlear Implant and am still used to lip reading.”
The air becomes unbreathable and nobody was laughing anymore. None of them were apologizing manically like most people do when they find out. I actually respected them for it because it was the sort of attitude that wasn’t fake.
I’m not mad anymore, because I feel like I dropped a bomb. They couldn’t have known and II shouldn’t have overreacted.
The one with the curly hair looks at the other two and simply says “We’re sorry” and leaves with three of the other guys. I accept his apology (what else is there to do?) and then there’s just me and the offending party, the darkest boy, and he looks at me in this really odd, intense manner and grabs my hand.
“Well, if you were deaf, and aren’t anymore we must go celebrate. Tonight we live while we’re young.”
He winks at me and gives me this look and we leave together the concert hall.
20 minutes later we’re at a coffee shop still in silence. I’m sipping a hot chocolate and he has an Irish coffee. His name is Zayn, by the way.
He coughs. “Hmm look. I really didn’t now and I didn’t want to offend you. I know how hard that is, you know, being deaf. I had a neighbor like you”. He signed that last part in BSL! That was really sweet of him!
“You couldn’t have known. I really didn’t mean to overreact. I shouldn’t have burdened you with all that private information” now I’m signing too.
“Then, I’m forgiven?” he grins and starts talking regularly “Sorry, I’m a bit rusty, I haven’t talked to my neighbor in ages. I really should see her, you know.”
She? Then I think, why am I feeling that twinge of jealousy? I barely know him!
“Oh really? She seems nice”, I try to say innocently.
He grins further. “She is an 85 year old bat and the only reason I want to see her is to know if she still holds the mail from my former address. You are way nicer. Are you sure you’d never heard of me until now? Because you blush like a fan.”
I blush harder of course, smile shyly, mock punch him in the arm and change the subject not that discreetly. “Shut up! Anyways, what’s it like, being famous?”
“Pretty cool you know. But it’d be way better being famous and being Harry Styles”, I look blank and he clarifies “The one with the curly hair.”
I nod. “Why do you say that?”
“Just a while ago, this girl packed herself up in a box and mailed herself to Harry for Christmas.”
I stare. Then I laugh.
“Aww, ok I am, but it did happen to this other guy, Davy Jones, back in the sixties”
“You really don’t know then?” he shakes his head, gets up and tosses a rumbled 20$ note onto the table.
I’m flabbergasted! This is how the evening (even though it’s like 1 am) ends? But I was having so much fun!
“Where are you going?” I ask, in a pathetic attempt not to sound crushed.
He turns and does that dazzling smile. “Come off it! You didn’t think I’d ditch you? You mean were we are going. You’re coming with.”
“Well then, where are we heading?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” he answers with a wink.
“Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolfe?” I sing the line because I notice the literary reference. What Zayn said is the title of the play as a line from it.
“I am, George, I am” he replies, bating his eyelashes in a mock impression of Elizabeth Taylor in the movie version.
“What, have you forgotten who I am already?” I retort teasingly, while it occurs to me that I haven’t as of yet mentioned what my Christian name is.
As we continue talking, we walk down the road. For someone who avoided speech for so long because it made her uncomfortable, I sure as hell have trouble shutting up.
Finally we come to a halt and he orders me to shut my eyes, which, just in case, he covers with his hands. When I’m wide eyed again, they are practically popping out of their sockets. We are at either a really high end, non mainstream, designer shop in the middle of nowhere, or at some sort of really weird costume store.
“Where are we?” I gasp.
“Well, I can’t do anything as myself can I? I’ll get ripped to shreds and so will you, by association. So I’d figured we’d get some new clothes and go undercover. This is London’s best kept secret. Their stuff is great, if you look hard enough. What do you say; can your wardrobe withstand some increase?”
I ponder. “I’d love to, but I haven’t any money… I blew 125$ on the concert…”
“Blew? You… didn’t like it?” he’s looking genuinely hurt and I’m regretting my choice of words.
His face fell.
“I loved it!”
He grins from ear to ear.
“But…” I hesitate.
Now he’s just looking confused.
“I liked meeting you best of all.” and I blush.
Suddenly I notice how close we are. I’m feeling his breath and hear his heartbeat. We’re both silent for once and I’m staring into his eyes. They are super intense and then there’s just him… and me… Until the shop clerk loudly clears his throat, taps his desk and then pointedly looks away. So we sort of awkwardly sidestep, as he proceeds to change direction and give me a quick peck on the cheek and remind me that he’s a freaking millionaire, I could literally buy the entire store and not be over budget.
The store is badly lit with fluorescent lights like those in IKEA. The floor is linoleum and the 80s mannequins sport huge afros, red lipstick as well as envy causing fake lashes. In sum, it’s like a fairytale or a video montage from that same decade.
Cue: me in a red dress with gold heels; a black ruffled skirt with a huge belt and a camisole; short shorts and a long t-shirt…Dozens and dozens of high end shoes… All adorable outfits, but not quite right. At least, despite a few twirls, near kisses, and a couple of grins, I never get the thumbs up.
I find him in the costume section in a new regular Joe -not that he’d ever look regular- outfit, since the clothes he had worn for the concert had been to my regret unceremoniously chucked in the bin, while browsing through the fake moustaches. Zayn looks at me and smiles.
“Beautiful. Finally perfect.”
“But I’m just wearing my normal clothes…”
Normal they are. Burgundy trousers, a bee jumper and a warm jacket.
“You aren’t normal. Stop pretending you are. That’s what makes you beautiful. Because I just love it when you are just you. You’re the one who always looks stunning, not Scarlett Johanson with those ridiculous skirts you definitely couldn’t wear with this weather.”
“You’ve only known me for a few hours and she’s a supermodel!”
“Maybe I’ve only known you for a short while and never even seen her, but that doesn’t make what I said any less true.”
So, of course, in this moment of intense romance, the clerk coughs again! Never mind the fact that we’re the only ones in this God forsaken shop!
“Forget buying me these dresses, you should just get him some cold medicine!” I mutter.
We leave the shop. All in all I’ve got three new dresses that he gave me as a gift and half a ton of make up where as Zayn just got a fake moustache and some sunglasses to use as of that moment as a disguise – never mind the fact that the sun’s been gone for hours.
Finally I gain the guts to ask what we are doing wherever we are. Because a good reason for us to be in this small place in the outskirts of London where most stuff is closed.
“It’s just that… You told me that you yourself are from London. You’ve been to the big city and even though I can see you love it and despite the fact that it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever layed eyes on till today,” he glances at me during that last part “ It’s predictable to us because it’s home. And you’re so special I wanted to drop the standard. I’m going to be real with you because I think we can have more than that, we can be, you know, story book.”
“We can’t be story book and keep it real. It’s an oxymoron. But… I like that. I think so too. We aren’t average. Hey, you know what? This ambience, it really is like it’s written. I’m thinking Catcher In The Rye.”
“Don’t ever tell anybody anything or you’ll start missing everybody.”
“Why would I miss you? We’re never going to be apart.” But I catch the quote and squeeze his hand. Oh, had we been holding hands? Apparently, but it had felt so natural I had barely noticed.
Then I have an urge to quote Catcher too.
“I’m crazy. I swear to God I am.”
“Why do you think I like you?”
Yet again we come to a standstill. This time we stop in front of a record store.
I’m not quite sure what to say. On the one hand I used to have that disability, and I know that if my mom where in my situation she’d have stormed off and vowed never to talk to Zayn again. Then again, why would Zayn be interested in a middle aged woman with ratty hair and a sullen attitude? My mom would never have gotten into my shoes. Besides, I’m aching with curiosity.
Seeing my distress, he begins to talk to me.
“I didn’t mean to be rude (again) or anything, but, I figured that that operation is like a fresh start for you. Not to mention that how often can you cultivate good musical taste from the start?”
I smile and we go into the store. From the window I can see that it’s also badly lit, which makes me wonder if the people of this town have ever heard of this new invention called the light bulb. Above the entrance hangs an old faded raggy cloth sign that advertises a “24HUUR MUIC STOR”, which probably means that with time the letters have begun to disappear. However, despite the unfabulous entrance, there are rows and rows of old Vinils on promotion, as well as huge stacks of fresh CDs.
I’m at a loss because I have no idea where to start. He sees that.
“You know we don’t have to do this.”
“We’re just listening to music… nothing scary about that…”
“Yeah. I got it a few years back and my dad went berserk. It’s a vintage from 1955. I paid like 300 pounds for it. He really did genuinly go insane because it was meant to be money for my school books.”
We browse through the lines.
“Hey, you really should have some classics. No collection is complete without Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. Beatles, Monkees (Headquarters is their best), Mamas & The Papas (If you Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears is my favorite of theirs)… The Kinks obviously, and Queen. Innuendo. Frank Zappa. Hot Rats. Aha?”
“You are aware of the fact that I literally have no idea what’s good or not, right?” but it’s really amusing because there’s like a huge pile of albums that I’m holding and he’s looking really immersed in the lines of remaining albums. Also, the album covers are quite funny. I see no connection with the titles and the pictures on display.
After we’ve covered the classic, and grabbed like 8 albums, we go to the modern music where, not only do we obviously pick up all of the One Direction CDs while Zayn tells me funny anecdotes of stuff that happened during the photo shoots for their Take Me Home, but we also pick up some things from acts like Gotye, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Oly Murrs, Taylor Swift and this unknown group called Paper Lions.
Finally my arms are filled and Zayn already has my clothing bags (Bags? I don’t get that*), so we head to the cash register.
Then we’re walking again and we’re telling each other stuff we’ve never told anybody else ever.
“Go on then. I already told you mine.” says Zayn.
“No! My story is way worse!”
“Hey, offense. Trust me; it wasn’t easy telling you about the worse day of my life. Yours must really suck if it’s worse.”
“Aww… Do I have to?”
“Yup! Hope it’s good.”
“As a kid”, I say, “I really wanted to go to a record shop. I really, really, wanted to because I was just so jealous of how everyone else could just relax like that. I was always a little upset at my parents because of that. I know it isn’t their fault and that it’d have been a waste of money anyways, but it always sort of felt like it was. One time I even ran away from home after this big fight to purchase a CD.”
“I was a kid. Only 11, maybe. I ran but then I froze. It was really scar being alone like that, all by myself, in a place I so definitely didn’t belong in. I just chose a random CD, didn’t even know who it was from (I still remember that on the cover there was this guy called Jimi Hendrix, and those where apparently his 12 greatest hits)… I cued up and all, only then there’s this little boy who’s making fun my choice – I know that because I lip read. The little boy thought the cover looked stupid, like me. So I just stood still and started crying. Then, finally, my dad shows up, and he was mad as hell for me running away. He started to sign furiously, but all I’m thinking is that the boy’s lips are asking is mom if I’m a freak, and she answers back saying that he mustn’t say those things because I’m just special needs. Worse day of my life.”
“That’s tough.” he puts his arm around my shoulder “But you aren’t a freak; you never were, never will be. Love, you have to get past that stuff that hurts because everyone has baggage no matter how flawless they seem. I had to get passed… those issues of mine too. Your burdens just happen to be heavier than most.”
We stop again at his command and I notice we are at an entrance to some underground tube station.
He coughs. “I’m sorry, but you have to go now. I don’t want your parents to think I’m leading you astray before I’ve even met them.”
“But it isn’t even that late!” I whine “It’s just… just… wait, what time it is?”
“Quarter past four. And you said you still have to go to school tomorrow, no?”
“Today…” I nod against my will.
“Yeah you go to Royal Holloway…”
“London College. How do you know?”
“Did you think I’d ever forget something you told me?”
We walk cowardly into the station; buy tickets for both of us since he doesn’t want me to be alone on the station, for my own well being. At the platform we’re still quiet as mice, standing facing each other, bags spilling on the floors.
It’s awkward, as neither one of us wants to make the gesture of leaving. It’s like that part after the movies. The picture ends with everybody happy, but then the audiece’d leave the room, the end credits finish and the characters from the show would probably be like, ok, now what?, and stare blankly at each other. I bet that if they were real, at the end of the flick, Danny Zuko and Sandy from Grease would be like “FUCK how the HELL do we land this flying car??????”
The silence is ridiculous; it gets tenser by the second so I say the first thing that comes to my head.
“Have you ever seen Before Sunrise” I blurt out.
He gives a confused look. “Yeah why? It’s my mom’s favorite movie.”
“Notice how in the movie they’re two people who happen to meet, have these like really deep conversations, and all that? And later because they don’t want to be separated, even though they have to be, they arrange to meet in that exact same spot in exactly six months?”
“Well, yes, but they never did meet did they? The girl’s grandma died, not to mention that I don’t want to see you only in six months.”
“Don’t worry all of my grans are equally dead and I was actually hoping to see you this Friday.”
So then he leans over to kiss me and the moment is magical. Story book, like he said, with no annoying store clerks. We fit into each other perfectly and once again I feel ethereal, only in a different way. It could have been forever, but unfortunately it couldn’t be. It’s like when the music made me feel alive, but now not only that but I feel safe and beautiful and protected. The moment when we kiss could’ve been forever but it wasn’t because then we heard the damned train and he starts to pull away only I don’t want to. I mumble that I don’t want to go but I pull away too.
Then we’re staring at each other again because leaving seems almost unbearable. Then I start giggling because his fake moustache is crooked.
“What’s so funny?” he asks as I point to the moustaches and he’s laughing as well, so now I know I can leave and not be too miserable. A quick peck on his cheek, straighten his moustache, grab the shopping and I go to catch the train.
Inside, I look at him. He looks at me. We smile. But then he opens his eyes wide and looks anguished.
“Wait! I don’t even know where you live or what your name is!”
“I can’t believe I forgot to tell you my name!” the doors start closing, no matter how franticly I press the “open” button “I live in Lancaster Square 388,” the doors are fully closed now, the train speeds and I am starting to shout “746 and my name is…” but then I stop because even a previously deaf person could tell that he might as well have been that exactly because there was no way he could have heard those last few numbers, let alone my name, since by then the vehicle had long since left the station.