~6~

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Once again, I wake with just barely enough time to get to the ground before vomiting.  The ground is covered in fresh snow, and I press my cheek into the icy-fluff, trying to quell the nausea.  I breathe slowly and deliberately for several minutes until I'm sure that my stomach won't rebel against any movement.  I brush my teeth as thoroughly as possible and change into my other pair of clothes. 

I give myself a warm-up, and then dance until the sun comes up, which is maybe forty minutes later.  I force one of the last vitamins down and nibble at the corners of a peanut butter sandwich.  My insides squirm, but I manage to keep from getting sick again.  I look at my watch, and see that I have about an hour before I want to be at the library, so I stop in at the supermarket and splurge on a bottle of ginger-ale and a roll of peppermints.

I get myself set up right away, and smile at Kota as he approaches.  His brow furrows and he frowns as he sits.  "Are you okay, Sang?"  I mumble something incoherent and take a sip of my pop.  He darts a hand out and pushes the back of it to my forehead.  "You feel a little warm, do you want to skip this today and just go and relax at my place?"

I'm touched by his concern, but I can't afford to miss out on any potential students.  "No, thank you, Kota,"  I shake my head, but his disappointment has me amending my statement.  "Maybe we can leave a little earlier, though, if you want."  He nods and pulls out a stack of notebooks.

"Okay, but if you start to feel ill, let me know.  I'm going to be reviewing right here the whole time."  I smile at him and he puts on his headphones.

***

It's dead in here.  I've had one student in the last four hours, and the only other people I see are a man with a little girl, and a couple of guys who are huddled around the computers.

The man points the little girl to a table and she slumps into the chair with her arms crossed and her lips pursed.  He sighs and walks over to the librarian to ask something.  The little girl's eyes follow him and shimmer a little in the light.  Her hot pink tennis shoes swing back and forth under her chair and I can't stop myself from going over to her when I realize that the glimmer from her eyes were tears.

"Are you okay?" I ask as I sit down beside her.  She doesn't answer.  "I'm Sang, and I'll leave you alone if you want, but I'm here if you need me."  I touch her shoulder and she jumps in her seat.

She turns wide eyes to me and scoots away with a shove.  Her hands fly around in front of her, shouting, "What the hell?"

Understanding washes through me and I sign to her, "Are you okay?  I was sitting over there, and you looked like you could use a friend."

Her face transforms and she beams at me.  "Oh my God!  You can talk to me!  I've been so lonely.  Uncle J tries, but he's just learning and I miss my mom."

I hand her a tissue to wipe away the tears gathering in the corners of her eyes and sign, "I'm sorry you're so sad.  I'm Sang, and you can come here and talk to me any time."  I pause and smile at her.  "What's your name?"

"I'm Ali."

She launches into her life story, and soon, I need the tissues as much as her.  She's seven, and was born deaf.  Her mom was in a car accident six months ago, and her dad never wanted a deaf kid, so she moved here from California to live with her mom's little brother, James.  He's only 24, and is just now learning how to sign, so it's hard for her in her new home.  She knows he's trying, but he's really sad too, because he misses his big sister.  She was mad that he dragged her here, but he has some sort of business thing that he needs help with.  She's not really sure, because they can't communicate that well.

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