Sweetwater - Lisa Henry
Reading updates in review since GR doesn't allow long updates or spoilers in them..

Crane smiled, and Elijah couldn't tell if he was being mocked or not. Maybe he'd spoken too quietly, too loudly, or carelessly run his words together. Or maybe it was just a smile.

This is so true. These insecurities is common when you have a hearing disability. Since you can't hear your own voice (only feel the vibrations the vocal cords make in your throat) you can't tell how you voice sounds or how you come across to the other person. You always need to judge a situation by facial expression, which is not an easy thing to do, especially meeting a two-faced character like Crane who's words mean one thing and his expressions means another.
I get Elijah, always assessing, always second guessing, always conflicting, always insecure.

"Yes, sir, I hear you. If it's noisy, I don't hear. I-I gotta read lips then, sir."
"Hmm." Crane's mouth quirked (...) "You ain't stupid, are you?"
"No, sir," Elijah croaked.
"Sound it though," Crane said.

Arg, hurt him where it hurts the most, why don't you, Crane?! You can beat and rape Elijah, but those hurts more than anything.

There was something about him [Elijah] though, something about the way he held himself, silent and watchful. Like he was keeping himself apart. Mostly deaf, Lovell had added, and Grady had understood then. The kid wasn't aloof, wasn't proud. He was just wrapped in silence was all, and not through any choice of his own. (...) Saw enough that he'd guessed the kid wasn't stupid. Just afflicted, and overlooked.

...and aching to be close to someone, be touched and made to feel good.
Gawd, my heart hurts for you Elijah.

He [Elijah] would have taken anything Crane wanted him to take, because Crane has looked in his face and seen him.
Elijah shivered.
The world had tipped last night, and Elijah was afraid he was still falling.

All you want is to be noticed, isn't it Elijah? Because no one really knows the real you, you're just the deaf kid everyone feels sorry for, or "a simple deaf cunt" as Crane calls you.
No wonder you start believing it when the whole world around you thinks so. It rubs off on you no matter what.

Because he wouldn't say no. Because all of those things--the humiliation, the fear, the tears--were the price he paid to be fucked. He ached for it, and Crane knew it.

Please, notice me...!

He [Elijah] wondered what Dr. Carter and the McCreedy boys were talking about, what anyone talked about. Elijah hadn't had enough conversations in his life to put them together in his mind. Words where stretched over the frame of friendly greetings and woven together in ways that he didn't understand; people made patterns of weather, and news, and remembrances and speculations, but Elijah didn't know the secret. He had always been excluded from conversation and never learned the skill.

You never know how much small talk or any kind of conversations you've had yourself or overheard or listened to, either in RL on the bus, the train or at a cafè, or listening to the radio or the tv, means until you know someone who has never really experienced this. Everything you hear adds up and you actually learn from it, you have been all your life, you just haven't been aware of it because it's so "normal", so everyday-like.

That was more than Grady had ever had with anyone. They'd hardly spoken, hardly touched, but there was something. It was fragile and ephemeral. It was fireflies. Grady wanted to catch it and hold it in a jar. He wanted to watch it glow. Fragile and ephemeral, but it was as real as anything else.

Wow, that was beautifully said...

It felt like Elijah had given Grady all his secrets in that kiss because he didn't have any practice hiding them. He wasn't used to being noticed. And Grady had responded to Elijah's vulnerability with protectiveness. Because the kid was hurting. Because he was making a mistake with Crane. Because he was alone, and he was afraid, and he deserved better than anything, and anyone South Pass City had to offer.

Aww, Grady *hugs*

Never been that close to someone. Never.
This strange, dark place where touch made up for sound. Where it spoke louder than any word Elijah had ever heard. Where it sang.

"What else have I got?"
The wisps of clouds trailed above then as Grady stared into his face.
"You got me, Elijah,"Grady said at last. "That enough?"
Elijah didn't know.


There was something inside him now, something working at the ragged edges of his pain, water over a pebble, which promised one day that all the rough edges would be worn away. That maybe he wouldn't have to feel like this forever.

Whaaaat?! Him?!
I never saw that coming.

Finished! Wow, what a read. I'm emotionally exhausted.