Excerpt from The Mind 440
When Louise went in for her appointment with the audiologist, Nick sat outside the padded chamber where she took a hearing test. A large part of the test involved waiting until the first moment she could hear a sound, a knock or a beep, and then raising her index finger to indicate that she had heard it. Louise could see Nick through the window. He looked very serious.
The audiologist wore a white coat, but she had many things about her that were un-doctor-like. She had long hair that she had curled and pulled pieces back with tiny clips. She had charm bracelets and long fuchsia nails, and her ears were pierced all the way up. She had four children, she told Nick and Louise, and had not become an audiologist until they were all out of diapers. This all concerned Louise. She was used to dealing with doctors who were tight-lipped, short-haired, with cufflinks.
After the test, the audiologist said, “Your life is going to be a lot better with a hearing aid,” and Louise started to cry. She had never heard a doctor make promise like that. She and the audiologist hugged.
The audiologist recommended a model with optional Zen sound effects when a knob was turned. A fountain trickling or a thunderstorm would be produced. It was called the Mind 440.
“They can be very soothing. One of my daughters has the same one,” she said.
She told Louise how to care for it, to swab it with alcohol every night and place it in a portable dehumidifier. The way the tubing was cleaned with a tiny rod looked like threading a needle.
“These things are virtually indestructible. We find my daughter’s in her pocket in the laundry hamper, the dog’s food bowl, wherever,” the audiologist said, flipping her hair.
Louise held it in her hand and she and Nick gazed at it. It was golden and curved, like a seashell. The audiologist put it in Louise’s left ear. Her voice sounded electronic to Louise. “That’s the way it’s supposed to sound,” the audiologist said. “You’ll get used to it.” She ran their credit card through a machine she pulled out of a desk drawer, and Louise signed something. The hearing aid cost as much as a semester of school.
This selection comes from Louise Krug’s book Tilted: The Post-Brain Surgery Journals, coming soon from 99: The Press.
Louise Krug is also the author of Louise: Amended (2012), which was named one of the Top 20 Nonfiction Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. She is an Assistant Professor of Nonfiction Writing at Washburn University, in Topeka, Kansas. Some of her recent work has appeared in River Teeth, Word Riot, Parcel and Huffington Post. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband and children.
Noh Anothai was a researcher with the Thailand-United States Education Foundation (Fulbright Thailand) between 2011-12, during which he hosted cultural events for Thailand’s Ministry of Culture and College of Dramatic Arts. Winner of Lunch Ticket‘s inaugural Gabo Prize for Translation and Multilingual Texts (2014) and OUTspoken’s poetry prize in 2015, Anothai’s original poems and translations of Thai poetry have appeared both online and in-print, most recently in Ecotone and The Berkeley Poetry Review. A reader for River Styx’s annual poetry contest, Anothai teaches for the online MFA program at Lindenwood University.
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