The months that followed were, even Julian admitted, difficult.
Julian spent hours on end buying Fergus’ milk and researching when to get him off milk and start putting food on his plate. But eventually, Julian figured it all out.
A few months after Fergus arrived, a newcomer arrived at the orphanage. Julian was happy to take him in. Jimmy had been thrown onto the streets at just three years old for being deaf. Surprisingly, his parents hadn’t realised it until then but they then realised how difficult it would be with a deaf child. Then his mother got pregnant again, and his father decided that they wouldn’t be able to afford one normal child and a disabled one.
Someone had seen Jimmy wondering the streets, shouting. They had called a children's home for him but they were “full”. The person who found him, George, knew it was because he was deaf that they wouldn’t take him. Luckily, George had found Jimmy just outside Povolo where Julian’s posters for his orphanage could be seen. So he phoned Julian and he said he would be happy to take him.
Julian had learnt many languages in his schooling years, one of them being sign language; it was easy for him to communicate with Jimmy. Jimmy was still young, so sometimes it was hard but most of the time Julian could understand what was trying to be said.
Bonnie and Mitchell stayed away from Jimmy; they were scared of him. They asked Julian why he couldn’t hear them. He would just reply that he’s deaf and will never be able to hear them unless they talk through their hands. They were hesitant to learn sign language. They found it too hard for a four year old and six year old.
Eleanor, however, took a completely different approach to Jimmy. She was eager to learn sign language so she could make him her new best friend. They were the same age, after all. She and Julian practised everyday when they could.
“Can you remember how to do “a”?” Julian tested Eleanor one day.
She immediately did the sign for a. Julian smiled at her and she beamed back, obviously pleased with herself. They were sat in the kitchen, her on an island and Julian sitting on a stool next to it. They had been practising ever since another episode of Tikkabilla came on a few minutes before.
Eleanor had decided she didn’t want to watch it at all anymore, Julian found this odd but he accepted her choice. Luckily, it had been an episode where a woman stood in the corner of the screen and did sign language, so Jimmy was watching it too. He was sitting on one side of the couch while Bonnie and Mitchell sat on the other end.
Jimmy didn’t really mind them ignoring him. He liked to be alone. He would go to his room sometimes and just sit there on his bed. Julian couldn’t figure out why, he just assumed Jimmy was a very calm and cool kid.
“Ellie, do you think it’s time you try to talk to Jimmy? You haven’t done any of your sign language to him yet. He’d be impressed.” Julian took a drink of orange squash.
“Really?” Eleanor's face lit up and Julian raised his eyebrows. She rushed off to the sitting room without Julian.
Julian followed her in just as Tikkabilla was finishing.
“I think Ellie wants to talk to you.” Julian talked to Jimmy using his hands. Jimmy nodded and looked to Eleanor.
“Hello, Jimmy.” Eleanor signed. Jimmy smiled for the first time since being there.
“Hello, Ellie.” He signed back.
“Would you like to play with me?” She said with the sign language, she had asked Julian specifically to learn that.
“Yes please!” Jimmy jumped excitedly off the couch. No one had ever asked him to play with them before.
“Jimmy, her words aren’t too good, so just tell her to call me if you can’t understand each other. Okay?” Julian signed to Jimmy. He nodded, understanding.
“Go on upstairs then. Ellie, take care of him.” Julian said out-loud and waved them off as they ran up the stairs.
“Julian? How do you do that hand thing?” Bonnie surprised Julian, she had been sitting next to him, but he hadn’t noticed. Mitchell had walked off ages ago.
“Which hand thing? This?” He repeated the signs he had done earlier.
“Yeah. What is it?” She asked, trying to do it with her own hands.
“It’s how Jimmy hears. He can’t hear properly, see? He can only see, and my hands speak to him.” He explained, she still looked confused.
“Maybe one day you’ll want to learn it.” He could see she wanted to know, not learn. He got up.
“What do you want for lunch, Bon?” He called as he walked to the kitchen.
“Pasta!” Much like Eleanor, Bonnie loved pasta. Except, Bonnie loved baked beans on hers, not cheese, Mitchell loved pasta with beans and cheese. Julian always made a huge potful for them all to share. Today was no different. He only cooked a little more than usual for Jimmy.
He hoped Jimmy would approve of pasta. Who doesn’t like pasta? Julian thought to himself, pouring excess amounts of pasta into a large pan with boiling water on the stove.