“Richard, did you see that?” asked Marilyn.
“See what?” asked Richard, who was still getting used to driving “on the wrong side of the road”.
“I’m sure that the little girl in that back seat was signing us,” said Marilyn.
Richard sighed. “You know, ever since you took that class on signing, you think everyone who waves a hand in the air is trying to communicate with you.”
“No, I mean it. I think I recognize a few of the gestures. Perhaps she’s been kidnapped. Do you think she’s been kidnapped?” asked Marilyn, her voice rising in pitch.
“Why don’t you translate her message and figure it out, miss Know-It-All,” grumbled Richard.
“Right, of course. Get closer,” she said.
Another sigh escaped from her husband as he gently accelerated towards the Volkswagen in front of them. After several minutes Marilyn frowned.
“That makes no sense,” she said.
“Why, what did she say?” asked Richard.
“The blue fish flies over the silence. Oh dear, I’m afraid I can’t understand her. She must be using British Sign Language,” replied Marilyn.
“What’s the difference? We’re American. We both speak English.” exclaimed Richard.
“It’s totally different in sign. But I know she’s in trouble. We have to keep following that car.”
“Our exit is in a mile. Who knows where they’re going?” argued her exasperated husband.
“Her LIFE could be at stake. Just follow them!” yelled Marilyn.
Mareesa watched with great amusement as the couple in the car behind hers seemed to argue. She found it much more entertaining than the book she brought. She decided to keep signing to them until they reached her grandmother’s house in Bath, over an hour away.
This trip is usually so boring, she thought.
[This is my entry into the Flash Fiction Challenge for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner by Roger Shipp. Write a story based on a photo prompt and introductory sentence in 200 words or less. I’ve gone over again so I’ll issue my usual apologies.
As a point of interest, in writing this story, I discovered that there are a number of different sign languages and they do actually differ greatly. For example, American Sign Language and British Sign Language are almost mutually unitelligible. From Wikipedia…
“In 1815, an American Protestant minister, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, travelled to Europe to research teaching of the deaf. He was rebuffed by both the Braidwood schools who refused to teach him their methods. Gallaudet then travelled to Paris and learned the educational methods of the French Royal Institution for the Deaf, a combination of Old French Sign Language and the signs developed by Abbé de l’Épée. As a consequence American Sign Language today has a 60% similarity to modern French Sign Language and is almost unintelligible to users of British Sign Language.”
So as odd as it may seem, the fact that Marilyn couldn’t understand Mareesa’s signing is actually plausible.]