in a grocery store. this is my chance. i know i’m not allowed to speak. i’m not allowed to look around. but how else will i get out? i hold my white cane in one hand and steer a cart with the other, using it as a scooter to speed away from my overbearing parents. i go to the tiny cafe section and sit on an orange chair in front of my sister-friend. “we’re supposed to meet outside of the capita building then?” she asks, fully aware that i’m not deaf as i’m supposed to lead others to believe. yes, i tell her. meet me 50 feet outside the capitol building. she tells me it’s dangerous that i should reconsider. i tell her i’ve spent plenty of time reconsidering. it’s the only way. they won’t let go of me so i need a new identity. i have to be the one to cut the ties. i have to leave this place. she disapproves, but she understands. she’ll help.