One Million Years
One million years from now, the entirety of the human population will be deaf. No joke. Ears will have gone the way of the plains buffalo and the wooly mammoth – useless, extinct, unnecessary.
It’s a good thing too, because a million years from now, people will never shut up. Their lips will be pursed constantly, emanating a high-pitched, droning squeal that can be heard from ten yards away in any direction. Mother Nature will have evolved its most advanced species thusly as a mode of warning to lesser-species around them (deer and other wild game in particular will thrive under these new conditions) and for the simple fact that if there’s one thing Mother Nature hates, it’s the superfluous; humans never made much use of those pesky ears, anyway – they were only ever good for hanging their glasses from.
Richard Masterson would have thrived under these conditions, but he was born three evolutionary periods earlier, in the year 2012. He’d been born with ears – not the callused bump humans will have one million years later – but they were about as useful as his nipples: fun to play with but not good for much else. The same went for his mouth. Try as he might (and he’d tried often throughout his life, and vigorously), he could never force a sound to escape his lips, or hear one that came from someone else’s.
He was considered Disabled by most, but he never felt that way. His parents saw to that much, at least.
His father had been deaf-mute too, and so had his grandfather, and so on down the line of Masterson’s. Their type of hearing impairment was congenital, which meant that, according to some people, God had withheld the gift of hearing from them, and had given them a gift of equal or lesser value in its place. This was utter horse shit, of course – God hadn’t taken a thing away from them, Mother Nature had – but people went on believing it anyway, even after they’d be proven wrong. His mother had been granted the ability to hear and speak at birth, and had used both functions frequently throughout her life as a mother (resorting to physical means to teach little Richie all of life’s hard lessons), a wife (belittling her husband soundlessly in the next room over), and a prosecutor’s attorney (putting the bad guys away and making the world a better place).
It could be said that life for Richard was no better or worse for his disability, it simply was. If you’re reading this and still retain both your auditory and vocal functions, you may be thinking: hog wash. You may think I’m over-generalizing and under-empathizing. But it’s true.
After all, if little Richie could hear or talk, he’d never have met me.