by Tory Sampson
My brother and I scampered around our aunt Edna’s feet, giggling and crawling towards the bright yellow room in my grandmother’s Florida condo. It would always be night and the wallpaper seemed to come alive with the exotic flowers that were on it. I sat at the foot of the queen size bed, preparing for a story of a lifetime. My brother excitedly sat next to me; we in our pajamas and chatting animatedly.
Aunt Edna with her jet black curly hair entered the room, commanding our attention. She was in her pajamas as well, but we did not care, we only wanted the tale that she was going to tell. We did not even know which story it was, we just wanted one. My brother and I rapidly signed over one another, until Edna calmed us down with her skilled hands. I remember looking around the charming yellow room, making sure that it was only us that were there because other adults’ presence ruined the tale. Also I remember I said a small farewell, ready to engage in another world created by my aunt’s hands.
My aunt started off with an image of a gorilla terrorizing New York. She imitated the strong movements of the gorilla and asked who the gorilla was. My brother and I eagerly replied, “King Kong! King Kong!”
“Correct!” Aunt Edna replied. She used her powerful hands to vividly paint a picture of people’s terrified faces when they saw the ugly brute attacking New York. My brother and I giggled with every face our aunt made for each person – a man looking up from his coffee and screaming, a woman abandoning her high heels then returning to retrieve them, an old person reading his newspaper for a while before he realizes everyone is gone except King Kong. My aunt then made a shocking announcement, King Kong was deaf! My brother and I gasped and looked at each other, in amazement. Edna slowly nodded her head, emphasizing that he was deaf. The story resumed; King Kong was assaulting New York, he was on a rampage until he spotted a beautiful blonde, unconscious because of all the excitement. King Kong stopped his attack and gently picked up the blonde. Edna showed the gorilla’s affection clearly, she hunched over her shoulders as if she were the gorilla and her hands were softly wrapped around the miniature blonde. Edna was a character herself. We watched in wonder at her characterization. The deaf King Kong was cradling the blonde in his hands when, suddenly, planes and tanks from the military started attacking the big beast. King Kong became enraged and started smashing tanks and grabbing planes out of the air. Edna had an incredible angry face, her teeth bared just like a gorilla would, her eyes afire with anger, and her hands flailing around catching imaginary planes and smashing tanks on the carpet. The attack was too much for King Kong so he spotted a big building nearby, it was more than hundred stories, just enough to get away from the tanks. He proceeded to climb the Empire State Building with the unconscious blonde in hand. Edna wrapped her arms around the building and climbed the building as if it were just a tree. When King Kong got to the top, planes were attacking relentlessly. Fearlessly, King Kong smashed them around, fiery planes hurled towards the ground. Edna used her hands to demonstrate the seriousness of the disaster, explosions and fire everywhere. Our jaws were on the floor. Finally, when the planes were nowhere to be seen, King Kong turned to the blonde and used one finger to wake the blonde up. I giggled at how King Kong used one finger. The blonde woke up and started screaming at the big animal. The King Kong signed, “No, no, I won’t hurt you!”
The blonde replied, “Yes you will!”
“No I won’t. I love you!” Edna was into her character, she was staring at her hand. There was nothing there but a miniature blonde freaking out.
“No! You don’t!” The blonde breathlessly responded.
“Marry me!” With a smack of her hands together, it was the end for the blonde that resided on the gorilla’s hand. The sign for ‘marry’ is hands in a ‘C’ shape and clapping them together. Guess where the blonde was on King Kong? My brother and I erupted into laughter. The blonde had no idea what was coming. Edna got out of her character and started laughing along with us.
ASL literature has been such a big part of my life. It first started when I watched my aunt, an informal but extremely gifted storyteller. She proficiently uses her hands to visualize and paint images. Now that I am older, I have a greater appreciation of ASL literature, and I want to learn more about it, and that’s why I picked this subject for my anthology project.